One of the sons of late Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo-kuti, Seun Kuti appearing as guest on a popular radio station in Lagos, CoolFm, warned musicians to stop stealing from the Legacy left behind by his father, insisting rather than trying to sound and appear like Fela, they should accord his father and family the respect they deserve, by focusing more on singing the Afrobeat music genre instead.
Seun was a surprise guest at the Coolfm midday Oasis (Superstar Wednesday) hosted by Kemi SmallzZ and Dotun (Do2dtun) on Wednesday where he was asked several questions on his musical career, family and the controversies.
The first question he was asked was how he has been able to survive given all the struggles, to which he said:
“Every first male child have a musical ancestor in my family, as from generations the Fela family has had musicians, as every male child were one time or the other a musician, especially in Church. They all started and sang from the church” he said.
“My great-grandfather, grandfather, uncles, and my father (Fela) were mostly gospel singers, but it was Fela who changed all that, as he was the first contemporary musician in the family, and sang differently.”
On how musician are using Fela’s name and Afrobeat (Kemi SmallzZ asked the question)
“I do not have a problem with anybody and I have been asked this question a number of times, and I will answer them again,” He said.
Stating further, he said:
“Go to Jamaica no new Bob Marley and although people are still singing Reggae, none of them are trying to be the new Bob Marley, is the Legacy only the Bob Marley family have rights to, which he has left for them and they are making a living through that”. he said.
Relating the Bob Marley’s situation to that of his father, Seun Kuti said:
“Fela is a musical God for the people and although my father created Afrobeats everybody can use and sing Afrobeats, but his Legacy has to be respected which is the property of the family…Fela’s Legacy belongs to his family and not for everybody…I cannot be quiet when people are stealing our Property and wanting to be Fela…
On the issue of Copyrights and making money on Publishing, and why Nigeria’s case seems different compared to what is obtainable in foreign countries. He said:
“Publishing is not being enforced in Nigeria and has never been, and only in the International market that you can have publishing rights to your property and Fela makes a lot from Publishing because I get a lot from what is being paid annually”.
Seun Kuti said his publishing companies whom he has entrusted his songs on are very good, as foreign companies pay well and on time.
“One thing about Nigeria musician they want to have their cake and eat it, after eating with these government officials, you now want to criticize them for not doing the right thing? It will be very difficult my brother…you cannot have your cake and eat it.”
On how Fela managed to protect his songs and derive royalties from them, he said:
“Fela said no Nigerian radio stations should play his songs because they refused to pay him on his rights, and that singular act is what the family are living on till today”
Seun Kuti is not signed to Copyrights Society of Nigeria (COSON) as this is the body radio and TV stations pay to for playing songs of a musician on their Stations and monies received are collected on behalf of these musicians. He was asked if he is signed to the body, he said: NO. But said more need to be done for them to be effective.
“I did not sign to COSON, I signed to a French/black lightening where they have good publishing… I did a voice-over in a game …
About musicians signing a deal with world record labels and if these deals are actually true and if they are not signing ‘bondage’ deals where they are exploited. He said:
“I mind my business”…he said he signed a deal and spoke about the Internet and how that killed records, as musicians now sign 360 deals where they make money from live shows, marketing and promotions…which he said is a prison…
When asked if Music is an obligation to society and if the crop of Nigerian musician so far sees their music as such, he said:…
“Fela could do what he did because he saw music as an obligation to his people…”confusion break bone” is an example. Fela had deals with Sony, Epic records and others and sold 240k copies in the first day of the release of Jewun ko Ku after ten albums before he got a hit record…people cannot sell record here anymore…He advised musician to do a lifetime deal with marketers…
On meeting with Carlos Santana, he said:
A friend was reading Carlos’s book and Carlos talks about me in the book and quoted my lyrics on ” don’t give that shit on me”…I told myself, so Carlos Santana knows me a lot to even quote me? I had my management to make the contact and do some work together and I sent him some songs, and he picked “black time” from the album…Las Vegas…was where he lived...
…He did his own part and sent it back and my management negotiated, and he sent it back saying it was a gift (publishing rights as he will not be getting anything from the deal).
I also met with his family and wife…I was star struck when I met him…he took me on a ride around and we played some game of basketball which was fun…he beats me in a game of basketball…(he joked, saying he used juju…)...