The stories, rage and rhetoric present all through Femi Kuti’s ”Day By Day” album alongside its blissful musical arrangements and rich instrumentals take listeners on a satisfying experience of life through the eyes of a pained African.
Earlier in the year, Femi Kuti released his 10th stuido album, ”One People, One World” and as I sat in the crowd watching him perform and interact with his fans at the listening party in September, one could not help but try unravel how his journey has fared leading him to become one of the biggest, most respected and successful musicians of his generation.
Being the son of the late Abami Eda, Fela Anikulapo Kuti is enough weight to bear for any individual, being constantly compared to him and then leading your own band, The Positive Force is extra pressure, one that Femi Kuti’s smile every time he steps on stage does not reveal.
Femi released his debut effort, the eponymously titled album, ”Femi Kuti” in 1995, with two other projects [”Shoki Shoki” and ”Fight To Win”] delivered within six years.
Then he took a break, a very long one, not from performing or touring but from recording music and it took him seven years from when he released his third studio project, ”Fight To Win” in 2001 to when he released the ”Day by Day” album in October 2008.
The theme of the 12 track album at the point stayed true to Femi’s message but it was a strong project that further showcased his unique identity, growth, influences, confidence and vocal discipline.
From ‘Oyinbo’ where the bass drums welcome you to his world as he refuses to be distracted by happenings around him while finding joy and peace through music, ”Oyinbo don kill Africa finish”, he declares.
The longest record on the tape, ‘Demo Crazy’ runs for over 7mins 30 seconds as Femi goes on a journey of the ills fostered under the guise of democracy; the instrumentals, drums and horns at play on this is the reason why Afrobeat as a genre always makes a delightful live concert.
He challenges the African man to ask poignant questions on ‘You Better Ask Yourself’, with his rich and controlled vocals highlighting denials, the contradiction in being the richest continent but also one of the poorest people and underhand practices over an infectious jazzy beat.
‘Tension Grip Africa’, ‘Dem Funny’, ‘Inside Religion’ and ‘One Two’ are other notable gems birthed from the album.
While the huge cloud of bearing the same last name as that of a giant in Fela Anikulapo Kuti will in some quarters hang over him till the day he stops making music, ”Day By Day” was perhaps that landmark project that saw Femi come out of his shadows and fully become his own man.
Released in 2008, ”Day By Day” was a certified masterpiece and a decade later, the album is timeless in sound and message as it represents the present state of the African man and brilliantly stands out in his illustrious and well storied discography.