There's no doubt about it: Femi Kuti is the undisputed king of Afrobeat. Kuti himself is the eldest son of Afrobeat founder Fela Kuti. A rarity in pop music, the title is hereditary (Femi's son Made is already occasionally performing with his father's band). Together with the Positive Force Kuti's live performances are world renowned. Femi Kuti's last CD was the magnificent "Live at the Shrine". And now there's "The Definitive Collection". The title says it all: Femi Kuti's 10 best songs.
The music on Disc One is brilliant. The rhythms are uplifting, the horns explosive and the vocal interplay between Femi and his back-up singers utterly addictive. Femi's father, the late Fela Kuti, wasn't a great fan of compilations. Neither was he of remixes of his songs. Femi differs, of course, because Disc Two contains 10 remixes of his most famous songs, plus one song with rapper Common. Some producers have done some interesting things with Femi's music. But for two revivals, like Eregele and Victim of Life, I find the remixess a bit bleak. Well, maybe it's just me. I'm not a big fan of remixes and prefer Afrobeat in its "organic" live environment.
WHAT I DON'T UNDERSTAND...
Now it was only 2 years ago that Femi Kuti released his last "best of" compilation. How many studio albums has Femi Kuti made? Answer: 3. How many greatest hits compilations? Answer 2. This seems a bit of an uneven ratio to me. Seven of the 10 songs on disc one of The Definitive Collection already appeared on "The Best of Femi Kuti". None of the songs on Live at The Shrine are included on The Definitive Collection. So why Femi would want to release another compilation without having made a new studio album in the meanwhile is something that makes me wonder.
This album gets only three stars, because there's hardly anything new on it and the remixes are only moderately interesting. I don't hope the term "Definitive" implies that we will hear no more from Femi Kuti as that would be a great loss to world music. I would have rather heard something new than another compilation.
Julio Punch (Webmaster of The Shrine: The Unofficial Website for Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti and Afrobeat Music)