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Rhythm & Views

Seun Kuti and Egypt 80

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Any progeny of the late Nigerian revolutionary and Afrobeat mega-star Fela Anikulapo Kuti is a chip off a mighty big block, but, based on his self-titled debut CD, his son Seun is up to the task. Not only does he share some of his father's vocal mannerisms, drive and passionate devotion to uncovering social injustices; he has a real ringer in his pocket: Egypt 80, Fela's stupendous last band.

If Seun is fazed in any way by his heritage (Fela was a huge international star and spokesman for oppressed people everywhere; his grandmother was Nigeria's leading human-rights activist), he's not showing it. More husky-voiced than his father, but every bit as vocally and lyrically dynamic, he and Egypt 80 deliver a debut CD to rival any.

More a communal orchestra than a band, Egypt 80's 16 members play like a force of nature. Although their overall sound hasn't changed much over the years, they've been given a harder-edged, even more propulsive sound by producer Martin Meissonnier. Led by furious ensemble drumming and layers of rhythm guitars, they pile on blazing horn charts, wildly inventive group vocals and just enough technology to bring it into the 21st century. Except for the sexy "Fire Dance," virtually all of the songs here are fueled by righteous rage reflected in the song titles, including "African Problems," "Mosquito Song" (about malaria), "Na Oil," and "Don't Give That Shit to Me."

The Kuti family heritage has a new dynamic visionary and torchbearer.

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