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Carrying his dad's Afro-pop torch forward

The Definitive Collection
The Definitive Collection
By Femi Kuti

Wrasse Records: 2007

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This review first appeared in Turbula in July 2007.

The son of the late pioneer of Afro-pop, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Femi Kuti has become popular in his own right – in both Africa and abroad.

Still, just as Jakob Dylan and Ziggy Marley can attest, being the son of a music legend is a double-edged sword. That connection to fame can open doors that might not otherwise swing your way, but the expectations start out unrealistic and rarely are lowered. A new two-disc "Definitive Collection" shows that Femi has created a solid body of work in the decade since his father passed. And the opening track, a duet with American rapper Mos Def, shows that Femi is as interested in musical cross-pollination as his father was – little surprise in that Femi played in his dad's band for many years. Singers Jaguar Wright and Macy Gray also are featured on different tracks.

The first disc is a compilation of 12 songs taken from his previous albums, and show Femi continuing his father's combination of African motifs with American jazz and R&B strains. The second disc is what really sets this album apart from his earlier "Best Of" album (which has quite a bit of overlap with the first disc of this set) – it's 10 of his songs remixed by various d.j.s, giving his already modern Afro-beat sound an even sleeker, almost Euro-beat sheen.