February 07, 2000 12:00 PM

Femi Anikulapo-Kuti (MCA)

Album of the week

If the surname sounds familiar, it’s because the 37-year-old Femi is the son of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the revolutionary Nigerian musician and political force who pioneered Afro-Beat in the 1970s and who died of complications from AIDS in 1997 at age 58. Like his late father, Femi marries the muscular grooves of James Brown-style funk to the substantial beats of African music. While the hypnotic and rhythmic forays that Fela embarked upon often clocked in at 20 minutes plus, Femi’s path is more direct: His sturdy, multilayered songs are shorter and more poplike. Femi, like Dad, also plays saxophone and uses his songs to address such weighty topics as political oppression and the struggle for human rights. That he does so while still getting his groove on would make his pop proud.

Bottom Line: Son of a legend lives up to it

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