‘Fight To Win’… Not meaning earning more money, such as unceasingly pushed forward to do in these Westernized modern societies we’re livin’ in. But to live in a better world whereas the happiness of the one would no more be synonymous with the misfortune of the other… Here is where to be found Nigerian artist Femi Kuti, the words of which were to be given another dimension, following the tragical Sept. 11, 2001 NYC’s attack…
Sept. 21, 2001. Femi Kuti is back to Paris. Not to have his saxophone repaired, but to respond to the growing demand of the press, further to the upcoming release of his new album. And here we go back together again, 18 months after a memorable concert in New York City; the man and yours truly, comfortably installed in his manager’s barge on the river Seine where he’s due to spend the comin’ week…
Kerri Chandler and Jerome Sydenham evoked these countless meetings/collaborations between African musicians and House Music producers. And here we go… Femi Kuti going ‘Beng, Beng, Beng’! Or differently said, Femi Kuti inda house with a Remix album…
“I loved it. I found it so refreshing to see my music expressed from different perspectives…”
Has this been for much in the recognition that seems to be yours in the House Music circuit?
“Definitely looks like it. These remixes have been the opportunity for some to dig further into my music, while discovering the original versions. Gotta thank my record company for this!”
That leads us to your new album (‘Fight To Win’) and as a direct consequence to your repertoire. A deliberately engaged repertoire. In other words, you in the footsteps of what his dad (Fela) or Bob Marley used to do. Could it be, like for so many people in Africa, that music is the only way left for you to express yourself. In other words, that you use it as a medium?
“Certainly, even though there are always various degrees of perception as far as music is concerned. You would see for instance the ones who’re only interested in the melodic and/or rhythmic part(s) of it, the ones who’ll check the lyrics, then those who feel like related to the themes that are expressed…”
Has this been hard for you to be the son of your dad, in the elaboration of your own identity as an artist, as… Femi Kuti?
“I don’t think it’s ever easy. As a matter of fact, I’ve just tried to not care of this. I’ve done whatever I felt was good…”
Should this album be taken as another record regarding what’s happening in your Nigeria homeland, in Africa, and more widely in these countries where no one seems to be taking the expectations of the populations into consideration???
“Exactly. What I’m talkin’ about is in no way lies! The way the Power behaves, the difficulties encountered on day to day life. War, diseases, all these things that ruin our lives one day after another…”
This leading us to the tragic NYC attack…
“I was just talkin’ about the subject a few hours ago. Without diminishing in any single way this absolute horor, this is sadly the kind of reaction one may expect whenever a part of the world gets disconnected from tho other one. This ends up generating abscesses that, at a moment or another, end up bursting. This is a cancer which affects the whole world, economically speaking, regarding the day to day life, with all the threats of a generalized conflict that such a situation might create. We all know for example that there’s a problem in Israel, but our leaders keep on doin’ as if it didn’t exist, as if they were not concerned. I think power should no more been seen as a way to set up domination, but an opportunity to solve problems…”
Hard not to remember of Gil Scott-Heron’s famous ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’, when bein’ confronted to the images of the WTC’s ruins. Is it to say this might happen again, should we keep on not caring about what’s happening at the neighbor’s next door?
“Looks like it. There are, on one hand, those who get into music in order to make money without a single concern about the situation. And on the other, the ones doin’ music with the will to share their experiences with the wish to abolish the castes…”
Is the human being only disposed to accept to be reported about what reputedly get us mad, to make themselves ready to give time to it? To share with his neighbor next door?
“I do think so, even though the current educational systems, given a push by the media, tend to teach selfishness and arrogance. Each of us though remain left with the ability to gather himself into a certain form of spirituality while takin’ the time to wonder for instance as to where we’re comin’ from, where we’d like to go. That would be a nice start, as if not chances are great that things will get worse along with time, like corruption in Africa…”
Do the Westernized societies care, judging by the little concern that seems to be theirs on their every day running???
“That reality will end up reachin’ you one day or another. Some 20 years ago (30 nowadays), should a European not be happy about his life in Africa, he then could leave and go back. We could eventually tell ourselves that everyone had to stay home in their native continents. It’s not true anymore today. The migration streams from Africa to other continents have changed everything, including as far as the mentalities are concerned. What the White farmers are facing today in Zimbabwe is a clear illustration to this. It’s the result of centuries of accumulated bitterness. What else but violence can we ever expect in return whenever using it to our own profit? If preaching love and peace, then chances are great you’re gonna get love and peace in return. Differently said: as you make your bed, so you must lie in it!”