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Femi Kuti Talks Legacy, the Future of Afrobeat, Crossover Success for African Artists & More In New Interview

The renowned afrobeat musician sat down for a keynote session with OkayAfrica's music editor at Midem Music Conference in Cannes, France.

Midem, the annual music conference, described as "the leading music industry event for the music ecosystem" is currently underway in Cannes, France and OkayAfrica is on the ground for the action, starting with a keynote session with the legendary Femi Kuti.

In an extensive interview with OkayAfrica's very own music editor Kam Tambini, the celebrated afrobeat musician and head of the New Afrika Shrine, speaks on his vision for empowering new African musicians, the current status of afrobeat—the genre spearheaded by his father—the power of music in addressing pressing global issues, his new album and much more.

READ: Femi Kuti Is Leading Afrobeat Into the Anti-Trump Era


The artist spoke in detail about passing on his musical legacy to his son who is also an artist, and the importance of young artists pursuing music out of passion instead of fame that it brings. "Music inspires every other profession" says Kuti, likening being an artist to being a doctor and helping to alleviate listener's pain. "Music is a medium that higher forces use to give people joy and love," he adds. He urged new artists to study their craft, and advocated for better learning institutions on the continent for aspiring artists and musicians.

When asked about young African artists like Davido and Wizkid who are striving for crossover success in global markets, Kuti urged them to look beyond "gimmicks" and focus on making music that leaves an impact in the long run.

He also spoke about the fight for social progress on the continent. "Do we surrender to injustice, or do we stand and confront this injustice," said Kuti, adding that it will likely be younger generations who will hold the torch in tackling these issues. "They have to fight for a better life for their children, and for their neighbors," said Kuti.

The artist, who was named Midem 2019 Artist Ambassador, was later joined on stage by producer Sodi, who spoke about his experience working with both Fela and Femi Kuti, and resisting making "standardized African music."

Check out the full interview below.

Midem Talks, a Talk with Femi Anikulapo Kuti, Singer, New Afrika Shrine (Nigeria) www.youtube.com

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Kayode Kasum’s Quarantine Watchlist

From 'Wives on Strike' to 'Goodwill Hunting' here's what the Nigerian filmmaker is watching while stuck at home in Lagos.

Kayode Kasum, like most filmmakers, has been stagnated by the coronavirus pandemic. The director behind the blockbuster Sugar Rush and the critically acclaimed Oga Bolaji was working on the post-production of his upcoming movies, The Fate of Alakada: Party Planner and Kambili—a collaboration between FilmOne Entertainment and Chinese Huahua Media— when the Nigerian government announced the lockdown order.

While post-production on Alakada has concluded, the stay-at-home orders have delayed work on Kambili. "Since the team cannot meet at a single point, we are moving hard drives left and right," he says to me over the phone from his home in Lagos. "It is a challenge, but the beautiful thing about a challenge is, when you make it work, it is fulfilling."

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Kasum has turned to books and films for an escape from the unpleasant realities of the pandemic. "I have been reading Elnathan's books: Born on a Tuesday and Becoming Nigeria," he tells me. "I have also been reading film directing books, Directing Actors by Judith Weston." However, Kasum longs for the movies. "I miss going to the cinemas; I miss that experience," he says. "There are times during this pandemic that I'm like 'na wa o, I wish I can go to the cinema.'"

Below are five films he recommends you watch during this pandemic.

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