Seun Kuti dismisses notion of artistic success based on Fela Kuti's legacy


Internationally acclaimed Afrobeat artist, Seun Kuti emphatically asserted that his artistic recognition and success, along with that of his older brother Femi Kuti and nephew, Made Kuti, are not merely attributed to their lineage as the offspring of Afrobeat pioneer, Fela Kuti.

Seun Kuti made this declaration in an exclusive interview on Nollywood actress and entrepreneur Iyabo Ojo's Goldroom show on Sunday, December 17, 2023.

The Grammy-nominated saxophonist emphasized the importance of deliberate efforts and dedication in achieving success in the music industry, debunking the notion that their familial connection to Fela Kuti played a significant role in their accomplishments.

Seun highlighted the achievements of his older brother, Femi Kuti, who is 60, and his nephew, Made Kuti, in his 20s, emphasizing that their dedication to the craft has been the driving force behind their musical triumphs.

Seun Kuti went on to draw attention to his family's musical heritage, noting that Fela's father, Reverend Israel Ransome-Kuti, was also a musician. Despite Reverend Ransome-Kuti's contributions to music, Seun pointed out that he never received recognition for his son Fela's success.

The saxophonist further delved into his family's rich musical lineage, citing his grandfather as a musician who recorded albums and wrote numerous hymns. Additionally, Seun highlighted that his great-grandfather holds the distinction of being the first person in Nigeria to record a song.

Dismissing the idea that their success is solely tied to being Fela's children, Seun Kuti challenged the perception, stating, “It is not because of our dad that we are successful in music. My brother, Femi Kuti, is 60. I am 40. My nephew, Made Kuti, is behind us now too, and he is in his 20s. And he is actually the best of all of us. That’s what it means; it continues to progress because we are really dedicated to it."

“It’s not just because we are Fela’s children. I mean, nobody says Fela is a musician because his father was a musician. Nobody knows that Fela’s father was a musician. My grandfather was a musician. He recorded albums, and he wrote a lot of hymns. My great-grandfather was the first person in Nigeria to record a song. We came from a lineage of musicians," he added.

He illustrated a point by mentioning a brother who grew up in Australia, unaware of his Kuti lineage until his 50s. While not a musician, this brother excelled as a creative art director, underscoring the family's innate creativity.

“We even have a brother that grew up in Australia that didn’t grow up with the family, he didn’t even know that he was a Kuti until his 50s, he’s not a musician but he is a creative art director. It’s what we are. We are creative people. So, when people say we are successful musicians because we are Fela’s children, they are just being half clever,” he said.