Those who have followed his career and have experienced his music know this for a fact: Femi Kuti never felt just satisfied with being the King's heir. He freed himself from his father's legacy in '85 by putting together his own band, The Positive Force, and thereby working to find his own voice. He became, during the '90s, a renowned artist in his own right with a distinctive, colorful and balanced style. His records tell the story: After a short spell at Motown, he took on the Afrobeat sound with his first international album in 1998 Shoki Shoki, before rubbing shoulders with the modern urban style of his American peers such as Mos Def and Common on the album Fight To Win.
Returning to Lagos he worked on rebuilding the new Shrine and released an unbelievable live project recorded in the heat of the moment in his own venue Live at the Shrine. Finally his first studio record only came about in 2008, having found inspiration in Paris. This unanimously celebrated release Day By Day was his most successful one.
Femi Kuti's recordings and live performances have garnered considerable critical acclaim. Time Out New York recently said, "Kuti sends a political message as powerful as the horn line in his band," and The Village Voice said, "His youthful wiles lend a Westernized, accessible spin to the genre his father once reigned over." And LA Weekly praised Femi, saying, "his exultant music inspires unrestrained dancing and celebrates such subversive notions as freedom and equality...this is simply great rock and dance music, inspired as much by Miles Davis as James Brown."
More than just a simple musician, the 48-year old composer has become a true African Ambassador, in its most honorable sense. Femi was in Johannesburg to sing for Africa the opening ceremony for the Football World Cup. There he sang one of his hits "Beng Beng Beng", and took the opportunity to meet a few of the anti-Apartheid heroes. Shortly after, he was heading off to New York to see the famous and very successful Broadway musical about Fela, where he also got to appear on stage, invited by the actors at the end of the show. "It's truly extraordinary, they really understood my father's struggle and his mindset This show has got to travel the world, and come down to the Shrine", he says naturally.
His legendary music venue Shrine has become one of the only last dynamic temples for live African music. Erykah Badu, Damon Albarn, Hugh Masekala have recently made appearances, as have the Lagos Police, who regularly raid the place, picking up and frightening off the local crowd, as they try to close down this highly regarded resistance venue.