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No Place For My Dream

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Album Review

Throughout his career, Femi Kuti, eldest son of Fela, has sought to establish his own musical identity while being the torchbearer (along with his younger brother Seun) of his late father's legacy. That truth can be easily envisaged on the cover of No Place for My Dream, where a woman is walking with a basket on her head through an enormous field of garbage. Recorded in Paris, the album sticks close to the heart of Afro-beat, but Kuti, infuses the music with Latin, African-American, and Caribbean sounds as well. The message is the message. Kuti has no choice but to deliver it song after song—"Nothing to Show for It," "No Work No Job No Money," "Politics Na Big Business," etc. all speak truth to the power of oppression The righteous indignation is everywhere, presented in beautifully written tunes orchestrated by himself and Positive Force's bandleader/guitarist Opeyemi Awomolo. But there is real vulnerability here as well. Check the slippery Caribbean Afro-funk of "The World Is Changing." In addition to the interlocking call and response of his organ and the saxophone and brass sections, Kuti offers a vocal atop his backing chorus that states his case — referring to Somalia, the tsunami in Japan, the earthquake in Haiti, the poverty and suffering from Bangladesh to Rwanda. His voice almost breaks with empathic pain, even as the music charges on. Kuti's organ takes center stage and fuels a deep Afro-Cuban groove on "Carry on Pushing On," while "Na So We See Am" melds Afro-beat to salsa in furious tempo. His tenor kicks things off in the jazzy funk of "One Man Show"'s call to world revolution. Throughout, Kuti sticks close to the heart of Afro-beat's musical drive and heartbeat, yet he moves its boundary. Besides the slamming tunes, another notable thing about No Place for My Dream is the way Femi mirrors his father's musical innovation. Where the elder Kuti brought other musics into the one he was creating as a new language for liberation, Femi uses Afro-beat as the jumping-off point that explores and connects other sounds to build bridges to other cultures. He acknowledges and celebrates musical difference, allows for those tensions to reveal themselves inside his music, and creates a dialogue that uses rhythm and harmony as unifying signifiers in his political language. Brilliant.


Born: June 16, 1962 in London, England

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The eldest son of Afro-beat legend Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Femi Kuti (born Olufela Olufemi Anikulapo Kuti) spent years playing in his father's band before eventually rising to superstardom following his father's death in the late '90s. Since few artists can match the elder Kuti's musical legacy, Femi's association with his father has been both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it's never been difficult for Femi to garner press or attention, and MCA went out of its way to push his career with...
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No Place For My Dream, Femi Kuti
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