HIPHOPMIX MAGAZINE MEETS FEMI KUTI – SON OF AFRO-BEAT LEGEND; (words by Abiola Alaba Peters)
“The older generation of press didn’t do justice to my career” – Femi Anikulapo Kuti
Sitting and chatting for hours at the African shrine, Ikeja, Lagos, as son of Afro-Beat music legend, Femi Kuti shares with Abiola Alaba Peters for Hiphopmix Magazine, his life, music and pains about the level of corruption that ravished the country, enjoy…
An insight into your background and your journey into music?
My name is Femi Anikulapo Kuti, I started music at age 16, I played in my father’s band for six years, I joined him in 1979, I did my first recording with him in 1979, and its titled, Africa centre of the world, I started my own band called the positive force band, in 1986, I went on my first international tour in 1988, France and Germany, another one in 1989, Switzerland and Germany, my first hit in Nigeria was “wonder wonder” I got my first international breakthrough in 1989, “shoki shoki album, bang bang” so my career has been quiet good, I believe I was the first Nigerian to win the KORA award, the first Nigerian to win world music award, some people don’t like to admit the fact, but it is the fact..”I am the first Nigeria artiste to break ground internationally”
Did your father, Fela talk you into music?
He did not influence me as such. I always knew I would go into music. It was just a question of how and when. He was however a big motivation in my life because every child wants to be like his or her father. The son of a plumber will want to be like his father, especially if he is learning the trade early. If the son loves the father, he will want to emulate him. I am not a different son. I love my father and wanted to do what he was doing. The only question hanging over that ambition was whether I could fulfil that ambition perfectly.
How would you describe the level of growth for Afro-music in Nigeria/Africa?
I love it, very encouraging and improving, I don’t know why people have problem with the music, I find it very hard to critized young people trying to do positive things, if they were armed-robbers, you know none of us would sleep at night, so let’s try to encourage the young ones who are doing a positive things, Afro-music is doing fine and we going higher
What’s your take on corruption?
Our government capitalises on the iliteracy of our people, let me give you an example, if you take a villager to Muritala international airport, the villager will say, what is this Mr Anikulapo talking about? This man is just a confusionist, because this villager has never been to the airport in New York, or any other part of the world, so when they see our international airports, they will say, this government is great, until now, we are yet to understand why there are suicide bombers, you see, our people value lives, for someone to go into bombing his own live and the lives of others, you need to understand that there’s a serious problem going on somewhere, all these are some of the things our government have failed to tackle, we in Lagos don’t know the extent of the poverty in the north, education won’t let us care about the level of poverty in the north, they said the hausa’s have been in control over the years, what’s our business and so on, they made us tribalistic, they divide us, they cause this problem because its called divide and rule, the more we are divided, the more they get away with the coruption, this police woman is going to be dismiss because she extort a hundred naira, but Alamesia who stole millions and billions of naira, that would have contributed to the growth of each and everyone of us, was granted presidential pardon…money that would have helped improved on good education, water, health and elcectricity, was stole by a governor and he was freed eventually, so many like that…
What’s next from Femi Kuti…what should your fans expect?
My last album was fantastic, it was my best, I’m working on beating it, so my fans should expect, big and better songs, I have been having series of sleepest nights, trying to put new songs together for a new album, beating my last album has been very hard for me, because I’m tired of singing no light no water, been doing that for thirty years now trying to keep it real like my father, I haven’t touch my love stories, I wanted to go abstract, but I don’t know if Nigerians would like my abstract songs, I’m very international in my approach, because I don’t want to leave my people behind, so you see? I’m caught between two walls, I have always like to carry my people along, even if the older generation of press has failed to follow my career properly, only few followed properly, talking about coruption again, its a sad and surprising that the Nigeria press were trying to extort money from me in my days, and because I refused, they took veagance on me, by wrtting negatives things about me…things like “Femi is mad…he was seen in stalk naked in Oju-elegba smoking igbo” and when I tried defending myself, saying, “if I must smoke igbo, why would I go to Oju-elegba, when I know that, with just three step in the shrine, I will see igbo, so is it not crazy, just because I refuse to give them money, as time would have it, time was on my side, when these group of young guys who internet has done no good, so they took it up by saying, if this man(Femi Kuti) was a nuicance, how come he travel in and outside of the country, how come he as been nominated for grammy three times, somebody must be disturbing information somewhere, the press as at my time did me no justice, samething with my father, but as God would have it, Fela’s name is still the biggest in the history of Afro-music in the world and the continent of Africa, his music is still be played and listened to all over the world, Fela still win award even in death
Sir! What’s the hope of Nigerian in the 2015 election, from your own perspective?
I have never voted and I will never vote, its true…you ask me why? They said I should give my life to christ, the last property I have left been my vote should now been giving to you to be my boss, no ooo…its not possible..I rather keep it to myself, and let me also advice you, as much as I preach against coruption and all, I do not advice or encourage violence…nobody must think violence for this country, I am not for violence of any kind, do you see what happened in Libya? I discussed it with people around me almost everyday, especially, with my sister, too many blood shed, because when they kill your children or your wife, who are you going to forive? Its going to take them time to retify that problem…we can’t imagine blood shed in Nigeria, who’s going feed us, is it the UN who can’t feed other nation who are been denying peace in their nation?
What legacy would you want to leave behind…here in the shrine?
I hope it will always remain a shrine, originally, the ideal of the shrine was not mine, it was my father’s, so I hope my children will protect the intergrity of their grand-father’s, my father (Fela) didn’t have the place of his own
What is it between you and your younger brother Seun Anikulapo?
We are cool, there’s and there was never a problem, I could understand why the people around him were teaching him how to be rude and its how custom and tradition to be respectful of our elders, when you check out all the Africa’s custom and tradition, they said its the first son that must uphold the house, but in the case of the Anikulapo’s, they said it is the last son that must uphold the house…this is where I was brought up, when everybody was throwing this at me, I felt sad and pained, but I didn’t allow it distract when am coming from or where am going to, he grew older and realized everybody around him was his enemies, if he’s truly an Anikulapo’s, then he would know for sure, I am not his enemy, because culture and tradition on our shore will always protect my intergrity, and if I mean him any bad, culture and tradition will teach me a lesson, its a simple logic, you see, I am very spiritual and Godly in my dealings, if I hurt you, I know I will be hurt, so why will I bother to hurt you, karmal will catch up with me, so I wish him everything good things I wish myself, he comes and played in the shrine, we talks, so there was never a problem, the press tries created one just to sell their papers, and that’s exactly why I said what I said earlier about the press, because, I can’t understand why? If I am a journalist, I wouldn’t do such
Your final words to your fans?
To my fans, they should keep supporting Afro-music