Being the son of one of the greatest musicians of all time was extremely challenging and pregnant with expectations, Kuti said.
In an interview with Wazobia Max, Kuti spoke about starting out with his father’s band- Egypt 80- before leaving to kick off his own music career in an era when his father reigned supreme.
“I think it is very important to understand why I decided that. I started to listening to jazz, my father introduced me to jazz, I hated jazz in the beginning,” he said.
“I got to a junction and when I understood what the jazz players were doing, their improvisation, I knew I could be Charlie Parker, Myles Davies or I could be Femi Kuti.
“The mathematics was the same I applied to my father. Playing in his band, he took over everywhere. I knew I could never be him. And being his son, the love I had and the appreciation, people always looked at it like a challenge.
“And I didn’t see that way. I didn’t see it that way. All I saw was the man I loved, adored and respected so much. So I didn’t see the competition. But everyone expected I wanted to be like him and I was constantly being told I couldn’t be like him but it wasn’t my aim.
“I wanted to find myself in the chaos surrounding me. I used the same mathematics- I can never be Fela Kuti but I can be Femi Kuti- and decided I’m not going to turn up for rehearsals anymore. My father was very angry.
“Everyone was scared for my fate but I knew that this journey would be tough. Even if it meant going through a brick wall, I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew I had to start then before it was too late.
“So I closed my eyes and mind and did it. For like a decade nobody wanted to listen to my music. And so I decided to make a name in France, Switzerland, and Germany.
“Then I broke into America before ‘Wonder Wonder’ became a hit in Nigeria and people wanted to listen to my music.
“So it took eight to ten years before people gave me a chance.”