Name of Album: Fight to Win
Ratings: Personal - 4 General - 4
Release Date: Out Now
Comments: Femi Kuti is following in his fatherís footsteps with small leaps. Fela Kuti, a musical pioneer who made a giant step for Afro-pop passed into the land of legends in 1997, and now his son is attempting to lead from where he left off. Although Femi is apparently struggling to step out from the shadow of this paternal icon into his own light, he has an impressive voice and much musical talent, as he is not only the composer-singer-song writer, but also the lead sax soloist. Hence, there is much promise for this rising sun.
As with Ziggy (Marley) who has earned the right to his own spotlight, but may never grow to achieve the statuesque reverence of father Bob, Femi is in the same imposition of living up to the same inherited ground-shaking standards, and also never really expected to rattle the earth as forcefully, or perhaps even discouraged from doing so. The overbearing pressure is so apparent that Femiís introductory liner notes are devoted to justifying why this prodigal son set out on his own, after breaking off from his dadĎs band.
Fight to Win, overall, is an album well-worth listening to. However, the opening track, Do Your Best, seemed too simple of a composition for a such a talented artist and his rich accompaniment. Femiís sax solo attempts to be its saving grace, but fails to recover this song. Moreover, the Mos Def collaboration on this first track was a grand mistake. This track really should have been omitted from the final cut, for the rest of the album is truly superb.
Tracks 2 and 3 in particular, and the entire album in general are reminiscent of Ska in the Ď80s with the likes of The English Beat, reggae like that of UB40 and even early Police (Walking on the Moon, Everything She Does...). Track fiveó Ď97 óthe tribute to Femiís fatherís death, even echoes of the same passionate voice heard from Bob Marley on his Legend album. In fact, the influence of sounds of the Caribbean resonates throughout, especially with the strong use of a horns which puncture the thin wall between being the background accompaniment and as a lead part of the song alongside Femi.
Born in London, Femi sings in English, although the music has a rich strain of contemporary African music running side-by-side with the social-political commentary speaking to issues endemic in Africa, from the wrath of military coups and corruption, to the national strife to overcome differences and emerge from the never-ending stigma of being a developing continent.