Friday, July 11, 2008

Seun Kuti, Afrika Bambaataa and U-Roy with Love Trio at Central Park Summer Stage

(Photos by Abraham Amkpa)

Central Park Summer Stage took its Afrocentric programming credibility to a new level last Sunday when Seun Kuti and Egypt 80, Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation, and U-Roy with Love Trio put on an energy-packed show that kept the crowd dancing from start to finish. All three acts are icons of their respective genres, and all three lived up to their prestigious reputations.

U-Roy and Love Trio opened things up. U-Roy is a legend of Jamaican music and founder of the reggae sub-genre dub. In the early 60's he pioneered toasting, or rapping over popular songs in dancehalls to liven up the party. He used his same signature style on Sunday, acting as lead vocalist with Love Trio, bridging the generational gap between a founder of dub and those continuing the tradition.

Next on stage was Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation, one of hip-hop's founding fathers. They kept the crowd jumping and gyrating while interjecting Afrocentric and political charged messages into their rhymes. Some were more overt than others; Afrika Bambaataa spoke only once at the end of the set, "Peace, Love and Unity, One Nation Under a Groove, and Fuck George Bush."

Closing out the show was Egypt 80 and Seun Anikulapo Kuti, son of Afrobeat pioneer and international protest figure Fela Kuti. Seun took the climbing energy from Afrika Bambaataa and U-Roy and vaulted it even higher. Egypt 80 took the stage first warming up the crowd and setting the Afrobeat groove. Seun made a dynamic entrance and automatically demanded the attention of the crowd. Everything from his appearance to his sound was highly reminiscent of Fela. His dance moves reminded me of his father the most, but when he introduced himself as "the best singer in the world," I knew the apple couldn't have fallen far from the tree.

Seun Kuti Myspace

No comments: