by Tutu Akinlabi
Children of stars who choose to follow in their parents’ footsteps usually have a tough task ahead of them.
On the one hand, they are often forced to fit into the shoes of their celebrity parent, on the other hand, their individual talent is sometimes overlooked.
Seun Kuti, son of Afrobeat legend, Fela, has revealed in an interview with City People that being the son of the talented maestro brought him more trouble than good.
“I dont believe that being Fela’s son has helped my career. Yes I am fela’s son. Yes I grew up to love music through him. Most people believe it’s easier looking in, when you are out. Everything just seems easier that way.
But I keep saying that the fact that I am Fela’s son, for me it didn’t really help me musically. The fact that I am Fela’s son has brought me more stress than good fortune. I believe if I wasn’t Fela’s son with my amount of talent and what I have been able to achieve, I would have gone far. What people see in Nigeria is ‘Hey, he is just like his father. Who is seun? Oh, he is Fela’s son’ and that is it.
They don’t bother to look deep into what I am doing. I see them singing high praises of people here that for me, musically, I don’t see what they are singing. What I am saying is Yes I am Fela’s son but it still took me 10 years to get my record deal after his death.
Me I believe I have paid my dues. There was no Fela’s name helping me get anything. My brother, Femi, won that lottery, I have to say. There was already one Kuti out there. It’s like that with music families. There is only one person that is pushed by the name.
The others have to strive. Being Fela’s son, especially when you have a brother that is already out there, will make it difficult for you after him. What that does to you is that they listen, but before they listen, they have already set the standard so high.
I am lucky that still with all the talk and comparisons all the time, I am still able to break my own barriers and we are doing our own thing. The band and I, and we have achieved great success. Since the first album, internationally, we have been able to close that chapter of people comparing us. They now know that we are our own force. Right now the band has made more money, played in more places than they ever did under my dad.