new music: seun kuti and egypt 80 define a new generation of defiant afrobeat on ‘struggle sounds’ #soundcheck

October 6, 2016

Seun Kuti took over Egypt 80 at the age of 14 after his father’s death, and for most of the past 20 years has been running the band as a tribute act to Fela’s music and legacy. Under Seun, the band gave audiences the chance to hear the songs Fela recorded live (Fela famously refused to play any song live once it had been recorded). But in 2011, he put out the first album of his original music with Egypt 80, From Africa With Fury: Rise. On Seun Kuti and Egypt 80’s latest EP, Struggle Sounds, the band doesn’t just pay tribute to Fela’s music, they rise to meet his legacy of mixing dance music with defiant political statements. “You promise me jobs / then you close the factory / but there’s always work at the penitentiary.”

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK contributor

It doesn’t hurt that 3/4 of the band played with and protested with Fela back in the day, but there’s also something to the way Seun places his lyrics more front and center than Fela tended to do. That combined with the immaculate production by Robert Glasper keeps Struggle Sounds anchored in the best of what Egypt 80 has always done, while giving Seun room to carve out his own personality. On the epic “African Dreams,” in particular, Seun and company create a song that is unmistakably Egypt 80, while still sounding new. Seun will always have large shoes to fill, but on Struggle Sounds, he sounds more ready to step in to them than ever.

Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 will be on tour with Ms. Lauryn Hill in November and December.