Culture Watch: Seun Anikulapo Kuti & Egypt 80, 'From Africa with Fury: Rise'
In the wake of the award-winning 2009 musical "Fela!" and an extensive reissue campaign of Fela Kuti's revolutionary body of work, there's hardly been a better time for an Afrobeat revival. While modern groups such as the Budos Band and the house band for "Fela!," Antibalas, have been keeping the torch lit well before this recent resurgence, sometimes there's no substitute for going to the source.
In his second album fronting his father's band, Egypt 80, 27-year-old Seun Kuti establishes himself as every bit the musical powerhouse as his older brother Femi, to say nothing of how remarkably his music also recalls their father. With the great Brian Eno on board as co-producer, this is a laser-focused album steeped in a punchy, funky air of righteous fervor (just look at that title, after all). With his band moving like a taut, multi-limbed organism, Kuti's voice is out in front, calling out Western corporate influence in the loping call-and-response "Rise" and government corruption in "Mr. Big Thief," which features a fluid mix of chugging horns and spiny guitar. Scheduled to perform on July 15 at Grand Performances in California Plaza, Kuti and his band aren't so much carrying the torch as they are lighting a fire of their own.
-- Chris Barton