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Seun Kuti

In an interview earlier this year with the Independent, Seun Kuti bluntly stated, "I'm crazy. My father was too." There's something heartening about the progeny of a famous musician clearly stating an alliance with his elders, but the youngest son of Fela goes even further than simply picking up the politically minded, wild-man torch of his dad. Pivoting away from the attempts made by his older brother Femi to modernize the sound of Afrobeat for contemporary audiences (and Common fans), Seun fully and deeply indulges his heritage. Not only does the gruff-voiced 25-year-old offer a strikingly solid imitation of his dad's rolling vocal style and circular sax-playing but he also breathes new life into the big-band funk of Fela's last group, Egypt 80. That frenetic orchestra has been oiling its funk machine for the past decade or so on stages in Lagos, and its stunning tightness here is as refreshing as it is explosive. Seun lets the Afrobeat run wild on his debut record, and most of the cuts clock in at the seven- or eight-minute mark. While this is still a fraction of Fela's penchant for album-length "songs," it's also nearly twice as long as many of Femi's more pop-oriented numbers. Further, Seun doesn't allow modern production techniques to polish off any of the rickety rough edges, so the horn lines blast through with all due force while a chorus of vocalists strains to keep up. In true Kuti family fashion, there's not a moment on this album that sounds like it couldn't have been recorded live, and in that, one finds the truest — and most admirable — homage to Seun's family line. 

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Jason Ferguson

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