Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Chicago Afrobeat Project, DJ Joe Bryl | Concord Music Hall | International | Chicago Reader

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Chicago Afrobeat Project, DJ Joe Bryl 17+ Member Picks Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Mon., July 14, 8 p.m. 2014

On the back cover of his new album, A Long Way to the Beginning (Knitting Factory), Seun Kuti bares his shoulders, where a tattoo reading “Fela Lives” spells out his devotion to the politically urgent Afrobeat forged by his father. After a pair of records where Kuti proved himself worthy of inheriting Fela’s band Egypt 80, he’s now establishing his own identity—he coproduced A Long Way with jazz keyboardist Robert Glasper and recruited Dead Prez rapper M-1 and Ghanaian-American MC Blitz the Ambassador for guest appearances. The new album’s ferocious opener, “IMF,” brings a classic Afrobeat groove to a full boil with chattering brass and choppy, cross-cutting funk—and the lyrics don’t hold back either, renaming the IMF “International Motherfuckers.” The following track, “African Airways,” also aims its bitter sarcasm at outside forces exploiting the continent; the song’s metaphorical airline uses “Chinese engines,” “World Bank radars,” and “Western pilots.” On “Ohun Aiye,” which includes a rollicking piano solo from Glasper, Kuti and Egypt 80 tap into the percolating rhythms of Congolese kwassa kwassa (Vampire Weekend appropriated the term three decades after the fact), and on “Black Woman” they opt for a slow, soul-inflected vamp to salute the strength, courage, and intelligence of black women. —Peter Margasak

Price: $26.50, $22.50 in advance

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