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Made Kuti… Chip of the old block

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Made Kuti | Image: Mobola Odukoya

For Omorinmade Kuti, better known as Made Kuti, spending his lifetime making music and playing his role in keeping the Kuti heritage alive is what he considers as happiness. Hence, his ability to be living above the pressures and expectations of what he should look like and the kind of music he should be making as the grandson of the legendary Afrobeat maestro, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.

As a multi-instrumentalist, Made, made his debut into the music scene last year with his single, Free Your Mind, which he said encourages listeners to live above the chains placed on them by the country’s supposedly limiting education system.

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The single preceded his debut album entitled For(e)ward, which was released last month via Partisan Records, together with his father’s (Femi Kuti) Stop the Hate as Legacy +, in a way showcase to the world the bond between him and his father, and how important the message of his music is to him and the Kuti dynasty.

Throughout the album, the young Kuti offers a fresh take on the Afrobeat sound that his grandfather, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who was revered and referred to as the Abami Eda (weird one), pioneered in the 1970s and ‘80s.

In the project, Made carries the torch of his family’s black consciousness and activist politics, using his songs to address the government’s neglect, police brutality, and the need for progressive action in the supposedly ‘giant of Africa’ nation.

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“I thought that it would be really cool to drop a joint project with my dad. My dad and I then searched to see if any father and child had done any such thing before, but we couldn’t find any. We are the first to do this, to the best of our knowledge.

“We just wanted the message and passion of music and our bond—our relationship to be out there. It happened in a very good and fluid way. I recorded my part of the album and for the mixing, we listened to each other’s side of the project and made sure everything blended,” he said.

In one of the tracks entitled Different Streets, Made notes, “A self-centered way of life will bring all of us down in the end,” adding that, “We must try to find a way to revolt without it being violent. I believe the best revolution will come from the mind; it will come from thinking, it will come from rediscovery.”

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The song starts off on an invigorating note, with an Afrobeat rhythm driven by a pulsing riff, which the artiste delivered in a freeform alto sax solo with laid down thick layers of drums, as he plays all the instruments himself.

“You cannot deny the things that you are taught as a child, and you cannot deny the things that are expected of you as a child as well. You are forced to always think and learn,” the 25-year-old musician added.

Though a toddler when his grandfather, Fela Kuti, died in 1997, his father Femi Kuti, through his own band, The Positive Force, has kept the Afrobeat message alive in more recent decades.

Fela had decades ago became famous across the world for his bold Afrobeat grooves. In songs that routinely filled both sides of an LP, the Afrobeat maestro laid down a potent distillation of West African highlife, lace with Yoruba rhythms, and James Brown-style funk.

Singing in Pidgin English —a widely-spoken dialect in Nigeria that helped him reach a broader audience across the country and continent— Fela lampooned corrupt officials, the military (which he called zombie-like soldiers), and colonial mentalities that still held sway in the years after the nation’s independence from British rule in 1960.

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