|Like father, like son. The undisputed inheritor of the genius of Nigerian Afro-beat superstar Fela Anikulapo-Kuti is his 37 year old son, Femi.
Femi's version of Afro-beat is the most exciting new sound to emerge from Nigeria for years, borrowing the best elements from his father's powerfully polyrhythmic prototype: a funky, jazzy, heavily percussive sound that took James Brown's beat back to Africa. Femi adds to that winning formula the freshness and exuberance of young Lagos and its taste for the new R&B and dance music of America and Europe.
Femiís songs, averaging five to six minutes in length, differ from those of his father, whose hypnotic jams often topped thirty minutes each when recorded, stretching to over an hour when performed live. Writer David Hecht describes the musical similarities and differences of father and son in his July 28, 1999 New York Times article titled "A Son Builds on His Fatherís Afro-Beat and Politics":
Femi first rose to international prominence in 1985, when he appeared at the Hollywood Bowl, fronting Fela's forty piece band, Egypt 80. Fela had failed to make it onto the plane, having been arrested at Lagos airport and jailed on a trumped-up fraud charge. Femi, already a member of his fatherís band, came to the rescue that night, giving a show that brought the audience at the packed Bowl to its feet. Even though the fans had paid to see and hear the charismatic Fela, Femi was able to fully satisfy them with the same rude, muscular sax style (soprano, alto, tenor and baritone) and lean self-confidence bordering on arrogance.