Femi Kuti

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Femi Kuti
Kuti performing 10 November 2008
Photo: Carlos Fernández San Millán
Background information
Birth name Olufela Olufemi Anikulapo Kuti
Born (1962-06-16) 16 June 1962 (age 53)[1]
London, United Kingdom
Origin Lagos, Lagos State, Nigeria
Genres Afrobeat, Jazz
Occupation(s) singer-songwriter, instrumentalist
Instruments Saxophone, Vocals, Trumpet, Keyboard
Years active 1978–present
Associated acts Egypt 80, Positive Force, Wizkid, Common, Mos Def


Music sample
Performance at Warszawa Cross Culture Festival – 25 September 2011

Olufela Olufemi Anikulapo Kuti (born 16 June 1962), popularly known as Femi Kuti, is a Nigerian musician, born in London and raised in Lagos. He is the eldest son of afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. and a grandchild of a political campaigner, women's rights activist and traditional aristocrat Funmilayo Ransome Kuti.[2]

Femi's musical career started when he began playing in his father's band, Egypt 80. In 1986, Femi started his own band, Positive Force, and began establishing himself as an artist independent of his father's massive legacy.

His first record was released in 1995 by Tabu/Motown, followed four years later by Shoki Shoki (MCA), which garnered widespread critical acclaim. In 2001 he collaborated with Common Mos Def and Jaguar Wright on Fight to Win, an effort to cross over to a mainstream audience, and started touring the United States with Jane’s Addiction. In 2004 he opened The Shrine, his club, where he recorded the live album Africa Shrine. After a 4-year absence due to personal setbacks, he re-emerged in 2008 with Day by Day and Africa for Africa in 2010, for which he received two Grammy nominations. In 2012 he was both inducted into the Headies Hall of Fame (the most prestigious music awards in Nigeria), was the opening act on the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ European arena tour and became an Ambassador for Amnesty International.[3] He continues to expand the diversity of his artistry on his new album (2013) No Place for My Dream. Femi Kuti was a judge on Nigeria’s huge TV show Nigerian Idol Season 3.[4]


Femi was born in London to Fela and Remi Kuti and grew up in the former Nigerian capital, Lagos. His mother soon left his father, taking Femi to live with her. In 1977, however, Femi chose to move in with his father. Femi started playing the Saxophone at age 15 and he eventually became a member of his father's band.[5]

Like his father, Femi has shown a strong commitment to social and political causes throughout his career.[6]

He created his own band Positive Force in the late 1980s with Dele Sosimi (Gbedu Resurrection), former key-board player of Fela Anikulapo Kuti. His international career began in 1988 when he was invited by the French Cultural Centre in Lagos and Christian Mousset to perform at the Festival d'Angoulême (France), the New Morning Club in Paris and the Moers Festival in Germany.

In 2001, Femi collaborated on his album Fight to Win with a number of U.S. musicians, including Common, Mos Def, and Jaguar Wright.[7]

In 2002, Femi's mother, who had played an influential role in Femi's life, died at the age of 60. Femi's son currently appears as part of his act, playing alto saxophone.

Also in 2002, Femi contributed a remake of his father's classic song, "Water No Get Enemy", to Red Hot & Riot, a compilation CD in tribute to Fela Kuti that was released by the Red Hot Organization and MCA. His track was created in collaboration with hip hop and R&B artists, D'Angelo, Macy Gray, The Soultronics, Nile Rodgers, and Roy Hargrove, and all proceeds from the CD were donated to charities dedicated to raising AIDS awareness or fighting the disease.

Femi Kuti's voice is featured in the videogame Grand Theft Auto IV, where he is the host of radio station IF 99 (International Funk 99, described as "playing a great selection of classics from West Africa, the US and elsewhere").[8]

In similar fashion as his father, there have been complaints of Kuti's criticism of his homeland Nigeria, specifically in the song "Sorry Sorry".[9] "What Will Tomorrow Bring" and "97".

Femi has been nominated for a Grammy award four times in the world music category in 2003, 2010, 2012 and 2013 but has never won.[10]

On 19 December 2014 a management deal between Chocolate City Music Group and Femi Kuti was reached. The news was announced via the Chocolate City Music official instagram account, as well as Audu Maikori social media accounts.[11]


Femi, the son of Afrobeat pioneer and political activist Fela Kuti, inherited his father's zeal for both music and activism. He started playing the saxophone and keyboard with his father's band when he was 16 and stepped into the spotlight, writing and singing after his father’s demise. Femi remains politically inclined grooving to high energy funk, jazz and traditional African-fueled songs about political corruption, poverty and primitive living conditions suffered by most inhabitants in Nigeria's oil-rich nation.[12]

His album, "Africa for Africa," emphasized "Bad Government" as a major problem in Africa. Before the 2011 elections in Nigeria, where former President Goodluck Jonathan prevailed over a former Military Head of State Rtd General Muhammadu Buhari , Femi reached out to the people that there was "no difference between the three candidates contesting for the presidential seat in Nigeria". He added, "we could say we're moving in the democratic process. And it's probably better than going to war, but corruption is still very rampant. The people are hungry and sick. And the government controls the media, so it can't be critical".

He also said "It's a very hypocritical situation. People settle for putting a meal on the table, but they don't know that the rest of the world doesn't suffer every day from power outages and water shortage. Nigerians don't even know about the history of African slavery, because it's not included in the text books." He echoed the same sentiments in the 2015 elections by releasing a remix to the song “Politics Na Big Business" featuring Tuface Idiibia and Sound Sultan through his management company, Chocolate City.

He is known for remembering past African leaders. His song "Make We Remember” calls on people to remember the words of his father and "great black people", who fought for the emancipation of Africa. For a very long time, Femi has been using music to inspire, change and motivate African people.


Felabration is an annual festival of music and arts that commemorates the life and times of Fela Kuti. In 1998, the idea and concept of Felabration as an annual celebration originated from his eldest child Yeni. The most important part of this celebration is that it always runs through the week of October that includes the 15th ensuring that Fela’s posthumous birthday celebrations are part of the Festival.

Felabration has taken place yearly, and has grown into a mega week-long musical event in Nigeria which attracts thousands of visitors annually to the New Africa Shrine from all over the world and is an official tourist destination of The Lagos State Government who are major sponsors of the event. Over the years Felabration has attracted many high class musical acts from all over the world. The roll call include Hugh Masakela, Femi Kuti, Lucky Dube, Awilo, Baba Maal, Les Nubians, King Sunny Ade, Lagbaja, Asa, TuFace, Seun Kuti and many others.

In 2008, over 50 international artistes came together from the United States, Great Britain, France and Senegal to perform

at Felabration under the banner, African Express. Every year Felabration features exciting line ups of artistes designed to whet the appetite of music lovers. Felabration is an opportunity for music fans to watch some of Nigeria’s biggest artistes performing together or individually.

Femi Kuti performance alongside Keziah Jones gave fans an awesome experience. The talented musicians jammed and entertained fans on the third day of the 2015 annual Felabration event. Some of the biggest artistes that performed include Olamide, Iyanya, Lil Kesh, Timaya, Mode 9, Adekunle Gold, Chinko Ekun, Kayswitch, Ketchup, Vector, Solidstar, Remi Aluko, Oritsefemi, DJ Jimmy Jatt, YQ, Burna Boy, Kiss Daniel, Tekno, Olu Maintain, Small Doctor, CDQ, Naeto C amongst others. The festivals always include various creatively diverse activities. ‘The Fela Debates’, symposium series, the secondary schools debate for schools in Lagos State, Dance Troupes, Photo Exhibitions, The Fela Street Carnival Parade with musical floats and costumed dancers The Fela Week Partners events and much more.

Felabration is an exhilarating week-long festivity celebrating the iconic status of Africa’s best known musical figure Fela Kuti.[13]

Live Performances[edit]

On 22 November 2014, Femi Kuti light up the BMO event with a captivating performance where he shared the same stage with his new label mate M.I (Jude Abaga).[14]

Kuti performing in London

On 24 April 2015, Femi Kuti headlined the 2 Kings concert alongside his brother Seun Kuti. The concert is significant as it is the first concert that the brothers have performed together.[15]



Live albums[edit]

  • Africa Shrine (Live CD) (2004, P-Vine)
  • Live at the Shrine (Deluxe Edition DVD) + Africa Shrine (Live CD) (2005, Palm Pictures/Umvd)


  • Le Cabaret Suavage Black Summer Festival, Paris (Afrobeat concert, 2015)
  • Garforth Festival Garforth, Leeds (2015)
  • The Lantern Bristol, UK 2015
  • Band on the Wall Manchester, UK 2015
  • Latitude Festival Suffolk UK 2015
  • Larmer Tree Festival Salisbury UK 2015
  • Walthamstow Garden Party, London, Lloyd Park 2015[4]


  • The Best of Femi Kuti (2004, Umvd/Wraase)
  • Femi Kuti The Definitive Collection (2007, Wrasse Records)




  • No Cause For Alarm? (1989, Polygram)
  • M.Y.O.B. (1991, Meodie)
  • "Ala Jalkoum" (on the album Rachid Taha Live) (2001, Mondo Melodia)


Year Title Album Director Ref
2013 The World Is Changing No Place for my Dreams N/A [17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A Short Story About Femi". Femi A Kuti Official Website. 
  2. ^ "Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti". 
  3. ^ "Femi Kuti". afrobios.com. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  4. ^ a b "Femi Kuti Official Website". Femi Kuti Official Website. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  5. ^ "A Short Story About Femi". Official Website of Femi A Kuti. 
  6. ^ "Femi Kuti: Blending Afrobeat And Politics". CNN. 11 November 2009. 
  7. ^ "Fight To Win". Wrasse Records. 
  8. ^ "Femi Kuti Builds on His Father's Legacy". CNN. 11 May 2011. 
  9. ^ Okechukwu Jones Asuzu (2006). The Politics of Being Nigerian. Lulu.com. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-4116-1956-2. 
  10. ^ "Breaking news: Femi Kuti Loses Grammy Prize". Nigerian Entertainment Today. 12 February 2012. Retrieved 7 March 2012. 
  11. ^ "Femi Kuti Biography". AFROBIOS. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  12. ^ "The Shrine: Femi bio". www.afrobeatmusic.net. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  13. ^ "Forever Lives Afro Beat". www.felabration.net. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  14. ^ "News and Entertainment – Latest Updates in Nigeria | Pulse.ng". pulse.ng. https://plus.google.com/100115682035467089710. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  15. ^ "‘2Kings Concert’: Femi & Seun Kuti To Perform Together For First Time". Sahara Reporters. 22 April 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015. 
  16. ^ "Finding Fela - a Film by Alex Gibney, official website & trailer". Finding Fela. Retrieved 2015-10-23. 
  17. ^ "New Video – The World Is Changing By Femi Kuti". Pulse Nigeria. Pulse Mix. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 

External links[edit]