Catch Kuti: Two chances to see Afrobeat star in Brooklyn

for Brooklyn Paper
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The Afrobeat is back!

The son of pioneering Nigerian musician Fela Kuti will headline two shows in Brooklyn this month, rocking the Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival on July 23 and taking the Brooklyn Bowl stage on July 27. But Femi Kuti says that even though he works in the genre that his famous father created, their music is not note-for-note.

“There are huge differences, and there are huge similariti­es,” said Femi Kuti. “I love my father very much, I played with him, I grew up with his music. This music is the backbone of my development, but I think I was able to find my voice, and that’s why my fan base really developed over the years.”

Femi Kuti has updated his father’s famous style with faster tempos and high-energy performances, and has carved out a substantial career of his own. But his music got boost of publicity after the 2008 Broadway musical “Fela!” based on his father’s life, he said.

“It definitely has created a huge awareness,” Kuti said. “But I was already doing very well, I had a very big song, ‘Beng Beng Beng,’ so my name had already been quite established, but you never say no to press.”

People attending his shows will “see Africa through the music, and they’ll love it,” he said. “They’ll leave the concert hall wanting to come back again.”

Kuti, who lives in Nigeria, last played in Brooklyn in 2015, but says that fans who come out this year will get a very different show.

“This time around I’ll be playing songs from my forthcoming album, and even maybe a song that won’t be on the album — something that’s very, very new,” he said.

Femi Kuti at Bric Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival [Prospect Park Bandshell, enter at Ninth Street and Prospect Park West in Park Slope, (718) 683–5600,]. July 23 at 7:30 pm. Free.

Femi Kuti Brooklyn Bowl [61 Wythe Ave. between N. 11th and N. 12th streets in Williamsburg, (718) 963–3369,]. July 27 at 8 pm. $25.

Updated 6:01 am, July 19, 2016
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