To an older generation, Femi Kuti is the eldest son of Fela Kuti, the fiery Nigerian bandleader and activist whose life story was told in the hit Broadway musical, “Fela!” To a younger generation, Femi is featured in the video game “Grand Theft Auto IV,” where he plays the host of a radio station. Regardless of age, Femi is a worthy successor to his dad’s intoxicating Afro-beat rhythms and explosive lyrics that target political abuse in Nigeria and other African countries, as well as in Haiti and the Middle East. Femi’s urgent, rallying-cry vocals find him living dangerously in the title track (where he fears ending up a “dead hero,” a likely reference to his dad) and the desperate pleas of “No Money No Job No Money” and “Action Time.” Femi’s masterpiece remains his 2001 album, “Fight to Win,” where he expanded his palette to include hip-hop guests Mos Def and Common. This new record is a return to his trademark jazz-and-funk Afro-beat grooves but is solid throughout if you appreciate energetic big-band arrangements, a theatrical backup chorus, and Femi out front wailing from the heart and giving hope to the voiceless. (Out now)
Essential “No Work No Job No Money”
Steve Morse can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.