★★★ FEMI KUTI: ONE PEOPLE ONE WORLD Afrobeat royalty makes the case for peace and unity
A superstar elsewhere in the world, particularly in West Africa, Femi Kuti still lives somewhat unfairly in his dad, Fela Kuti’s shadow in the West. While this might be somewhat inevitable to those with a limited taste for afrobeat grooves, One People One World needs no family leg-up with its funky guitars and scorching soul-powered brass. This fiery 50-minute rant against the greedy and corrupt has more than enough to satisfy both the head and the hips.
While there isn’t a great deal of either musical or lyrical variety, One People One World never feels dull or worthy. “Africa Will Be Great Again” kicks things off with a funky afrobeat groove, banks of trumpets, and Femi preaching against injustice and corruption. His call-and-response singing with longstanding backing band, Positive Force, may be dealing with serious issues but cries of “Don’t be tired/Be inspired” are all about empowerment rather than misery. “Best to Live on the Good Side” adds an almost Doors-like jazzy organ to the musical stew, while “Corruption Na Stealing” cools things down but even then, it doesn’t let up with its righteous intentions. “Dem Don Come Again” with it’s refrain of “They use religion and the word of God to do their bad, bad things” and “Dem Militarize Democracy” also make it clear that Femi, like Fela before him, hasn’t just got big business and politicians in his sights. It’s not all doom among the good grooves though, and “Equal Opportunity” and “The Way Our Lives Go” have plenty of positivity for these uncertain times.
One World One People is just the remedy for a culture that celebrates bullies and conmen. So, let’s hope that Femi and Positive Force fancy coming over to the UK to lay their thing down on the stage, because we could all do with a dose of these funky grooves and their message of hope.