Black Times

Black Times

by Seun KutiSeun Kuti


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Just before Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 released 2014's fierce, diverse A Long Way to the Beginning, he and his girlfriend Yetunde George Ademiluyi welcomed a baby girl, Ifafunmike Adara Anikulapo-Kuti. He took the band on tour, but upon returning home, concentrated on being a father while writing music and working with members of Egypt 80 -- the band he has fronted since 1997. Its lineup has remained largely the same since his father Fela formed it. When it was time to record, he re-enlisted Robert Glasper as co-producer, and set about pushing forward his ever-evolving vision of Afrobeat. It retains the basic, driving roots of his father's music, but goes wider, into rock, 21st century soul, Caribbean sounds, and edgy contemporary jazz, without softening the attack. Kuti said of Black Times: "It is an album for anybody who believes in change and understands the duty we have to rise up and come together. The elites always try to divide the working class and the poor people of the world. The same oppression felt by workers in Flint, Michigan is felt by workers in Lagos and Johannesburg." The set's title track first single and video feature tasteful guitar interplay between guitarist Oluwagbemiga Alade's telegraph key vamping and guest Carlos Santana's leads, guided by Shinan Abiodun's drumming. Kuti's chant is a paean to freedom and defiance. Santana's playing is spiky and wah-wah-drenched, and doesn't draw attention away from the band. "Kuku Kee Me" is an anthem of resistance to harassment by government forces. Its highlight, however, is its epic-length trumpet solo. "Corporate Public Control Department (C.P.C.D.)" reveals Glasper's influence, with its jazzy organ, staggered Afrobeat horn attack, and popping guitar and drum duel. It was written during Kuti's time at home and critically reflects on President Buhari's first year in office. "African Dreams" finds Kuti improvising jazz-wise over a bubbling, simmering Afrobeat groove, with Glasper punching up his keyboards and stretching both genres until they melt into one another. "Bad Man Lighter" moves in another direction using funky breaks, vamping guitars, and spacy dubwise effects. Its lyrics condemn hypocrisy and defend the right of citizens to smoke "the good weed." Kuti saves the best for last in the set's final two cuts: "Struggle Sounds" has burning baritone, tenor, and brass delivering an infectious melody that makes room for improvisation; it ties Kuti to Ornette Coleman and James Brown, while the vocal evokes pre-Thomas Dorsey gospel. The distorted drumming on closer "Theory of Goat and Yam" is astonishing, sounding like a heard of buffalo stampeding as it pushes the trumpet, bassline, and striated, syncopated harmonics. While Black Times clocks in at more than an hour, its incessant drive, appended by lush textures, a diverse sonic palette, rich dynamic, and melodic variations keep it edge-of-your-seat compelling. All told, it's evidence that the younger Kuti has come into his own with Egypt 80; he is charting his own path from the roots of his father's music.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/02/2018
Label: Strut Records
UPC: 0730003316326
catalogNumber: 163
Rank: 159279


  1. Last Revolutionary
  2. Black Times
  3. Corporate Public Control Department (C.P.C.D.)
  4. Kuku Kee Me
  5. Bad Man Lighter (B.M.L.)
  6. African Dreams
  7. Struggle Sounds
  8. Theory of Goat and Yam

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Seun Kuti   Primary Artist
Shina Abiodun   Drums
Carlos Santana   Guitar
Iyabo Adeniran   Background Vocals
Kunle Justice   Bass
Alade Oluwagbemiga   Rhythm Guitar
Wale Toriola   Percussion
David Obanyedo   Guitar
Kola Onasanya   Conga
Okon Iyamba   Shekere
Oladimeji Akinyele   Trumpet
Seun Anikulapo-Kuti   Keyboards,Alto Saxophone,Vocals
Ojo Samuel   Tenor Saxophone
Joy Opara   Background Vocals
Adebowale Osunnibu   Baritone Saxophone

Technical Credits

Rilwan Fagbemi   Composer
Matt Thame   Graphic Design
Seun Kuti   Composer,Executive Producer
Lewis Heriz   Illustrations
Arnaud Granet   Executive Producer
Pierre Dozin   Engineer

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