Olufela Olufemi Anikulapo Kuti is a Nigerian artist who is the oldest child of Fela Kuti, the father of Afrobeat, and the grandson of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, a political activist, women’s rights advocate, and traditional patrician. Femi Kuti began his career as a member of his father’s band, Egypt 80. In 1986, Femi formed his own band, Positive Force, in order to carve out a career as a musician apart from his father’s legacy.
Early Life and Education
Femi Anikulapo-Kuti was raised in Nigeria’s old capital, Lagos State, and was born in London on June 16, 1962, to Fela and Remilekun (Remi) Ransome-Kuti (née Taylor; 1941-2000). His mother abandoned his father soon after taking Femi to live with her. Nonetheless, Femi made the decision to live with his father in 1977. Femi began studying the saxophone at the age of 15 and eventually joined his father’s band. He received his primary education at Baptist Academy and his secondary education at Igbobi College.
Femi, like his father, has dedicated his life to social and political causes. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, Femi’s grandmother, was a political activist and advocate for women’s rights. Despite the fact that he is the son of an international legend, Femi believes that his mother, Remilekun Taylor, has had the greatest influence on his life. Positive Force was formed in the late 1980s by him and Dele Sosimi (Gbedu Resurrection), a former Fela Anikulapo Kuti keyboardist. His international career began in 1988, when he accepted invitations from the French Cultural Centre in Lagos and Christian Mousset to perform at the Festival d’Angoulême (France), the New Morning Club in Paris, and the Moers Festival in Germany.
Femi collaborated with several US musicians on his 2001 album, Fight to Win, including Common, Mos Def, and Jaguar Wright. Femi also contributed a version of his father’s timeless song “Water No Get Enemy” to Red Hot & Riot, a compilation CD honoring Fela Kuti released by the Red Hot Organisation and MCA. All CD sales proceeds from Femi’s song, which was created in collaboration with hip-hop and R&B artists D’Angelo, Macy Gray, The Soultronics, Nile Rodgers, and Roy Hargrove, were donated to AIDS organizations.
Femi Kuti’s voice can be heard in the videogame Grand Theft Auto IV, where he hosts radio station IF 99. (International Funk 99, which “plays a great selection of classics from West Africa, the United States, and elsewhere”). Kuti, like his father, has faced criticism for his criticism of his native Nigeria, most notably in the songs “Sorry Sorry,” “What Will Tomorrow Bring,” and “97.”
On December 19, 2014, Chocolate City Music Group and Femi Kuti signed a management agreement. The news was shared on both Audu Maikori’s social media pages and the record label’s official Chocolate City Instagram account. Femi Kuti and his son Made Kuti will release Legacy+, a two-album project, on February 5, 2021, through Partisan Records. The collection includes Femi’s eleventh album, Stop the Hate, and Made’s first album, For(e)ward.
Femi was nominated for a Grammy in the category of global music four times—in 2003, 2010, 2012, and 2013—but he never won.
The son of Fela Kuti, an Afrobeat musician and political activist, Femi carried on his father’s passion for both music and politics. When he was 16 years old, he joined his father’s band and learned to play the saxophone and piano. After his father passed away, he took centre stage and began writing and performing. Femi continues to be politically motivated while grooving to upbeat funk, jazz, and traditional African music that is fueled by lyrics against government corruption, poverty, and the substandard living conditions that the majority of Nigeria’s citizens endure.
In his album Africa for Africa, Femi Kuti stressed the issue of “bad government” in Africa. He informed the populace prior to the 2011 Nigerian elections that there was “no difference between the three contenders running for the presidency in Nigeria.” He added, “We could say we’re moving in the democratic process.” And it’s probably better than going to war, but corruption is still very rampant. The people are hungry and sick. And the government controls the media, so it can’t be critical. “
“It’s a very hypocritical situation,” Kuti added. People are content to put food on the table, but they are unaware that the rest of the world is not plagued by power outages and water shortages on a daily basis. Nigerians are unaware of the history of African slavery because it is not taught in school. Following the 2015 elections, he released a remix of the song “Politics Na Big Business” with Tuface Idibia and Sound Sultan through his management company, Chocolate City, echoing the same sentiments.
In his song “Make We Remember,” Kuti urges listeners to remember his father and other “great black people” who fought for Africa’s liberation. For a long time, Femi has used music to uplift, inspire, and empower Africans.
The Afrobeat legend’s mother died in 2002 at the age of 60, and his father died in 1997 as a result of AIDS complications. His siblings include Oluseun Anikulapo Kuti (born 1983), Omosalewa Anikulapo Kuti, an attorney; Oluwayeni Anikulapo-Kuti (born 1961), a dancer; Kunle Anikulapo Kuti (born 1971), and Sola Kuti (born 1963; died in 1997).
Femi Kuti’s sons are Ayomide Kuti and Made Anikulapo Kuti (born in 1997). The latter was the result of his marriage to his ex-wife, Funke Kuti.
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- No Cause for Alarm? (1989, Polygram)
- M.Y.O.B (1991, Kalakuta Records)
- Femi Kuti (1995, Tabu/Motown)
- Shoki Shoki (1998, Barclay/Polygram/Fontana MCA)
- Fight to Win (2001, Barclay/Polygram/Fontana MCA/Wrasse)
- Day by Day (2008, Wrasse Records)
- Africa for Africa (2010/2011, Wrasse Records/Knitting Factory Records)
- No Place for My Dream (2013, Knitting Factory Records).
- One People, One World (2018, Knitting Factory Records)
- Stop the Hate (2021, Partisan Records)
- Africa Shrine (Live CD) (2004, P-Vine)
- Live at the Shrine (Deluxe Edition DVD) + Africa Shrine (Live CD) (2005, Palm Pictures/Umvd)
- Femi Kuti and M.I. (Jude Abaga) shared the stage at the BMO event on November 22, 2014, when they both performed.
- Alongside his brother Seun Kuti, he participated in the 2 Kings concert on April 24, 2015. The concert is notable because it is the brothers’ first time performing together.
- On May 15, 2017, Femi Anikulapo Kuti was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for holding a single note on a saxophone using a technique called circular breathing. 51 minutes and 35 seconds was the record he set.
- Le Cabaret Sauvage Black Summer Festival, Paris (Afrobeat concert, 2015).
- Garforth Festival, Garforth, Leeds (2015)
- The Lantern, Bristol, UK, 2015.
- Band on the Wall “Manchester, UK, 2015
- Latitude Festival, Suffolk, UK, 2015.
- Larmer Tree Festival, Salisbury, UK, 2015.
- Walthamstow Garden Party, London, Lloyd Park, 2015
- The Best of Femi Kuti (2004, Umvd/Wrasse)
- Femi Kuti: The Definitive Collection (2007, Wrasse Records)
- “Vampires” (on the album Radio Retaliation by Thievery Corporation) (2008, ESL Music)
- Hope for the Hopeless (2008) collaboration with Brett Dennen
- Finding Fela (2014) is a documentary film directed by Alex Gibney.
- “Arabesque” (on the album Everyday Life by Coldplay) (2019)
- Grand Theft Auto IV soundtrack (2008, IF99)
- No Cause For Alarm? (1989, Polygram)
- M.Y.O.B. (1991, Meodie)
- “Ala Jalkoum” (on the album Rachid Taha Live) (2001, Mondo Melodia)
Awards and Nominations
- Femi was honoured in the Headies Hall of Fame in 2012, which is home to Nigeria’s most prestigious music awards.
- The City People Movie Special Recognition Award
- The Legend of Legends Award
- City People’s Movie Lifetime Achievement Award
- World Music Award for World’s Best Selling African Artist
- He also accepted a position as an Amnesty International ambassador.
- Femi has received four Grammy Award nominations in the Best World Music Album category (2002, 2009, 2011, and 2013).
- Femi and his son Made were nominated for the 2022 Grammy Awards in the categories of Best Global Music Album and Best Global Music Performance, respectively.
His net worth is currently unknown, but he has done well for himself over the years, but still lives a moderate life.