Haven’t never heard anything Seun Kuti has ever done, I was pretty stoked when the boss asked me if I will be interested in representing Jaguda at the concert. After an awful experience in Nigeria, with me not being able to enter a concert as promised, I was a little hesitant though, but still I called up the homie “D” and we headed out.
I was sick all day, so we headed out late, getting in with absolutely no problems as Seun Kuti and the Egypt 80’s band start to perform. Before I go on let me just say this, except you are guaranteed that there will be seating room for everyone, never wear heels to a concert, especially once you know you are going to be late. I was on my feet for all 2hrs in 5inch heels and the Nigerian in me (unlike the American lady besides me who removed her top and was only in a bra) would not let me take it off. It was not pretty.
The first thing you notice is that there were very few Nigerians there, the place was packed and overflowing but mostly with Whites, Asians, Indians and tons of other races. They were young and old, of different shapes and from different countries and they were loving it. Note that this is not such a NY event where anyone can come in, you pretty much had to have known, wanted to come and then paid for your ticket to attend. They were also clearly oblivious to more than 80% of the lyrics and yet they were happy and dancing and vibing to each sound. I mean I have been to see Fela on Broadway and I saw them go crazy, but that I could understand, it was after all FELA ANIKULAPO KUTI. But this was Seun and I would have thought the lesser known of the Kuti’s and boy was I wrong.
He started off the concert with a popular track of his late father – Zombie, which if you have ever seen the video, involves a lot of “Theatrics” and he embodied it every step of the way. Then he took us through his last album From Africa with Fury: Rise performing “Slave Masters” “You Can Run” “Rise” “The Good Leaf” and “Mr Big Thief”. Most notable of those was “Mr Big Thief” which sees him calling out our late president (amongst other things) Olusegun Obasanjo a Big Thief. It’s a bold song, and he made so much sense. I laughed so hard understanding what he was saying in Yoruba, and some of those around me looked at me with envy because they would have loved to understand it, I could only smile.
Another notable perfomance was “The Good Leaf” which is a song that he calls “his advocate for marijuana”. He argues that, since its a natural occurrence that God put on earth to make us happy in the midst of other natural occurrences that kill thousands of people like “earth quakes” and “tornadoes”, the government has no right to sanction it. That made everyone hype and that was probably the loudest the room ever got. You know folks don’t be playing with their weed. With that said you already know I copped this album right? Its pretty great stuff and I am glad I got a chance to see him do this live.
He also performed “African Problems” from the 2008 album Seun Kuti & Fela’s Egypt 80 which according to him was the first time he had actually ever performed it ( although I’m sure he meant it was a new song on his set for the tour) and it was without doubt my best song and performance of the night. You really ought to hear this.
Now obviously there is something to be said for the fact that he plays with his dad’s band and they are a great band. I really liked the fact that he gave most of the instrumentalists a one minute solo performance. He also had two lovely dancers with him and they did some phenomenal things with their ass. But with all that said, Seun himself is a remarkable performer, entertainer, instrumentalist and he’s just like his dad. I unfortunately never heard his dad perform but as someone with a dad that loved him so much and had tears in his eyes when he got a box set of all his work as a gift, I’ve always thought none of his son’s ever did him justice. Its why I never listened to Seun cos I felt like more than Femi, he was really trying to copy his dad. Is there a resemblance there? Absolutely, but I think you can also see that he is himself out there. He is in my opinion better than his older brother Femi, although I am yet to see Femi perform live, but even the random strangers I spoke to from the Netherlands, who had also seen him perform over there and now got a chance to see him in New York and have seen Femi perform concurred.
That’s the thing about stereotypes, they are almost always unfounded. The one white woman who I walked by who was gushing about him saying “he is just a normal guy” made me laugh so hard, because I was wondering why she would think that he was not normal. But she probably is not as bad as me, who seemed somewhat surprised that he was very well spoken and educated and funny. I guess my point being that at the end of the day, GOOD MUSIC, trumps all and what Seun Kuti does is Great Music that I am proud of. Proud he is a Nigerian, proud he is able to pull a diverse crowd and still stay true to being African and proud and happy that he is successful doing that. Its truly a good look.
He is still on tour till the end of the month so if he is in your city, make sure to check him out. Its definitely worth your money.