Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Seun Kuti & Egypt 80

  • Seun Kuti + Fela's Egypt 80 [Disorient, 2008] A-
  • A Long Way to the Beginning [Knitting Factory, 2014] **
  • Black Times [Strut, 2018] *

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Seun Kuti + Fela's Egypt 80 [Disorient, 2008]
Afrobeat is America's most imitated Afropop style because its Americanization runs so deep, and because its protest component appeals to the kind of Americans who think playing Afropop is a cool thing to do. The loping, polyrhythmic, funked-up groove Fela Kuti invented is pretty surefire, too--until you cue up an actual Fela record and remind your body how dynamic that ride can be. Not that Antibalas should feel bad--African Afrobeat musicians, what few there are, rarely hold up against Fela either, including his well-bred eldest son Femi. That's why this album by Fela's youngest son is such an event. Commandeering his father's old band, he generates surer and leaner propulsion than Fela himself did in the decade preceding his 1997 death, and though Seun's rough pidgin doesn't rivet you like Fela's speechifying shout, he projects a sense of mission and outrage rare in scions claiming a genius's revolutionary legacy. Plus this: Smack in between "Na Oil" and "Mosquito Song" comes "Fire Dance," where Fela's 69-year-old trap drummer Baba Jasco gallops louder than ever before over the cantering legacy of his famed bandmate Tony Allen. A-

A Long Way to the Beginning [Knitting Factory, 2014]
The old grooves are still good grooves, and if only the old imprecations were out-of-date ("IMF," "Kalikuta Boy") **

Black Times [Strut, 2018]
"Till we free, you and me, dem no go see last revolutionary" is more inspiring as a slogan than a line in a song, which is how political music goes sometimes, isn't it? ("Black Times," "Bad Man Lighter [B.M.L.]") *

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