Knitting Factory Records is pleased to announce that Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 will release its new album A Long Way To The Beginning on May 27, 2014. The follow-up to 2011's From Africa With Fury: Rise, the upcoming record from the reigning prince of Afrobeat was co-produced by Grammy winner Robert Glasper and features appearances from M-1 of dead prez, Blitz the Ambassador and Nneka.
In support of A Long Way To The Beginning, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 will tour the US this summer. Beginning on June 10th in New York at the Highline Ballroom and ending June 21st in San Diego at Catalyst, the tour also includes an appearance at Bonnaroo Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. Full tour dates are below.
With a clenched fist and a blast of his alto-sax, "IMF" finds Seun Kuti launching into his tightest, most electrifying album yet. This time around no one escapes the Afrobeat warrior's ire: not corrupt Nigerian leaders or sly western powers. Not bankers, corporate greedheads or any lying, cheating international motherfucker anywhere.
'My people are coming for what's ours,' sings Kuti, 31, in his powerful, stentorian voice on "IMF." 'Going all out 'cause it's now or never, 'breakin' the chain, we gon' sever...'
It's been a struggle to get to now. There were those who criticized his decision to front his father's band; who said it was arrogant, even hubristic, to try and fill his father's shoes. This was never Seun's aim: "Fela will always be Number One," says the Lagos-based scion, who inherited the extraordinary Egypt 80 orchestra in 1997 when his father died.
"What I want is for young people in Africa to believe in Africa, to come together for Africa." A smile. "What I want is to inspire change."
And so Fela's youngest child has full-steamed ahead with his own inimitable brand of Afrobeat: a sound as compelling as it was when Fela Anikulapo Kuti first fused jazz, funk and soul with highlife and other African rhythms - but with topical lyrics and contemporary influences giving it a modern twist. So far there have been two critically acclaimed albums: 2008's Many Things and 2011's From Africa With Fury: Rise.
With A Long Way to the Beginning, we've arrived where the journey starts.
"This is the beginning of the reign of Afrobeat music," says Kuti. "Afrobeat is not just about being Fela's son anymore. There are hundreds of bands playing Afrobeat around the world, from Australia to Israel to the US. What began with my father has become a global movement."
And A Long Way To The Beginning is at its vanguard. Co-produced by the Grammy-winning American jazz pianist Robert Glasper, the album features a clutch of young artists from the African diaspora - the singer Nneka, rappers M-1 of dead prez and Blitz the Ambassador. It's a recording that lassos all the passion, adrenalin and searing truth of a Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 live show.
From the stage to the studio... never from the studio to the stage.
"This album is a soundtrack for the mindset of most young people in Africa today," says Kuti of A Long Way to the Beginning. "As African youth we have to stand for what we want."
"I have to believe that I am making Fela proud," says Kuti, whose shoes are one size larger than his father's anyway. "Over the years the band has come back to its peak, to the place they were in when Fela was fronting them."
He pauses, smiles. "And now," he says, "we go forward."
Seun Kuti tour dates
:6/10 - Highline Ballroom - New York, NY
6/11 - Howard Theatre - Washington DC
6/12-15 - Bonnaroo Festival - Manchester, TN
6/14 - Pisgah - Black Mountain, NC
6/19 - SF Jazz Center - San Francisco, CA
6/20 - Sierra Nevada World Fest - Boonville, CA
6/21 - Catalyst - Santa Cruz, CA