As the eldest son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti was groomed from an early age to become Fela’s natural successor. The only problem was, Femi Kuti wanted to carve out his own musical identity instead of taking over his father’s band. While inspired by his father’s vision, he knew he had to blaze his own trail instead of limiting himself to carrying on a family legacy.
Femi Kuti put together his own band, the Positive Force, and successfully mixed African rhythms and melodies with jazz and funk on his 1995 self-titled debut album. On his eighth release, No Place for My Dream, he sounds more confident than ever with a strong batch of songs brimming with global social commentary. His message is direct and clear throughout this set. Titles like “No Work No Job No Money,” “Politics Na Big Business” and “Wey Our Money” hardly need an explanation. Kuti forgoes metaphors and poetic license in favor of simple, conversational lyrics that everyone can relate to. He speaks of corrupt politicians running wild, lying and cheating while they exploit natural resources as the public suffers from hunger, poverty and hopelessness. On “No Place for My Dream,” Kuti is told to stop dreaming about world peace because “great men have had the same dream and you’ll end the same way. A dead hero.”
Bright, warm horns embrace Kuti’s powerful, gritty voice as his band locks into tight, interwoven grooves. While Fela was known for epic songs lasting up to thirty minutes, the longest track on this CD is just over six minutes. Femi Kuti has refined his approach as a songwriter and each song gets to the heart of the matter without extended solos from the band. No Place for My Dream offers up a full, dynamic style of Afrobeat that makes it jump through the speakers with vigor and purpose.
Originally published in RootsWorld Magazine.