While Africa is full of elected officials who wish they were kings, Femi is the heir to his father’s throne but does everything in his power to deserve his good fortune. He practices longer, works out harder, prepares more rigorously and generally goes the extra mile in everything he does as a musician.
Most music DVDs are GEOFF (Good Enough Only For Fans) but here is a rare gem: a genuinely interesting musician with important things to say in an unusual place with good film makers.
His reward? The unquestioned dedication of his thousands of fans and staff and an unending shower of plastic bottles
He has built the New Africa Shrine to be a place of entertainment but also an asylum (in every sense). He tells us that at times there are two thousand people there just for rehearsals. So he has decided to live his life in the open and even the songs that are to be chosen for his next album are voted on following vivid debate. A big dispute breaks out on one occasion with proponents of one of his tracks complaining that it is not in the running. The result, well, it is on the album and the DVD.
His reward? The unquestioned dedication of his thousands of fans and staff — some of whom even see him as a prophet, nay a god — and an unending shower of plastic bottles as he performs some of his tracks like the crowd-pleaser ‘Shotan’. The audience does little better as plastic chairs are casually tossed in the air to land where they may. All this despite — or could it be because of — his requests for mannerly conduct and the unambiguously erotic motions of the dancers.
Particularly well done is the moving sequence illustrating the song ’97’, which is about the year in which both his father and sister die, it is intercut with scenes from his father’s life. Fela’s shadow is long indeed.
There is something quite moving about this beloved but ultimately alone figure cut by Femi. The only person you can trust is yourself, reasons Femi, before adding that you can’t even trust yourself as you realise how many times you don’t even do the things you tell yourself you’ll do.
Brave, dignified, talented, outspoken and above all disciplined, Femi is not like his father in some ways but where they differ Femi represents what Fela believed African men could be — even when he himself fell short. The king is dead, long live the king. The lion born the lion.
See our review of the album, Africa Shrine, which also has the dates for his current tour of Europe.
Extras include a lengthy and revealing interview with Femi and extra tracks like his cover of ‘Water No Get Enemy’ and his own ‘Yeparipa’
Release Date: 11 October, 2004
Director: RaphaÎl Frydman
Cat. No:1169190019(PINNACLE VISION) [Discograph]
Category:Music/Performing Arts:Music – Popular:Rock & Pop
Interview with Femi Kuti
Link: Pictures of Femi Kuti live at the Barbican in London