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Seun Kuti Calls Out Nigerian Media for Overlooking His Achievements

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Nigerian media gave Burna Boy credits for records I set - Seun Kuti

In a recent interview with The Public Republic, Grammy-nominated Afrobeat artist Seun Kuti has voiced his frustration over what he perceives as the Nigerian media’s tendency to credit Burna Boy for records that he and other artists have set in the Nigerian music industry. The 22-year-old musician, known for his outspoken nature, did not hold back as he recounted several instances where his contributions and those of his family have been overshadowed by the media’s focus on Burna Boy.

Setting the Record Straight

Seun Kuti, the youngest son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, recalled the widespread reports in 2020 that celebrated Burna Boy as the first Nigerian artist to perform at the prestigious Coachella music festival. Kuti, however, performed at Coachella eight years earlier, in 2012. “It’s as if my achievements don’t count because I’m from Togo,” Kuti remarked, his voice tinged with both frustration and incredulity.

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The Afrobeat scion also pointed out that before Burna Boy’s acclaimed album “African Giant” earned a Grammy nomination for Best World Music Album, his elder brother, Femi Kuti, had already received multiple nominations in the same category. “My brother [Femi Kuti] has been nominated at the Grammys multiple times. They’ve nominated me too, but it’s like the media doesn’t want to acknowledge it,” he said.

Overlooked Achievements

Kuti’s grievances extend beyond his family’s legacy to his own career milestones. His album “Black Times,” which was nominated for Best World Music Album at the Grammys years ago, did not receive any recognition from African award organizers. This, according to Kuti, is a glaring oversight that reflects a broader issue within the industry.

Despite his significant contributions to Janelle Monáe’s “Age of Pleasure,” which earned a nomination for Album of the Year at the 2024 Grammys, Kuti noted that his name was conspicuously absent from Nigerian media reports about the 66th Grammy nominees. “It was only my name that they didn’t mention among the Nigerian artists who were nominated for the 66th Grammys. That’s what they do every time,” he lamented.

A Pattern of Erasure

Kuti’s comments highlight a recurring pattern of erasure and misattribution within the Nigerian music industry. By continually overlooking the contributions of artists like Seun Kuti and his family, the media not only distorts the historical record but also undermines the rich legacy of Afrobeat music. This genre, pioneered by Fela Kuti, has had a profound influence on global music and continues to inspire new generations of artists.

The tendency to prioritize newer artists like Burna Boy, while understandable given his recent global success, should not come at the expense of acknowledging the foundational work done by earlier musicians. Kuti’s frustration is not merely about personal recognition but about ensuring that the history of Nigerian music is accurately represented and preserved.

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The Way Forward

For the Nigerian music industry to thrive and maintain its cultural heritage, it is crucial that all artists’ contributions are recognized and celebrated. This includes acknowledging the achievements of both contemporary stars and the pioneers who paved the way for them. By doing so, the industry can foster a more inclusive and accurate narrative that honors its rich and diverse history.

Seun Kuti’s call for recognition is a reminder of the importance of giving credit where it is due. As the son of a musical legend and a talented artist in his own right, Kuti’s contributions to Afrobeat and global music deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated. His recent Grammy nomination for his work on Janelle Monáe’s album is a testament to his enduring talent and influence.

Conclusion

In an industry as dynamic and rapidly evolving as Nigerian music, it is easy for the achievements of earlier artists to be overshadowed by the success of new stars. However, it is essential to remember and honor the contributions of all artists, past and present. Seun Kuti’s call for recognition is not just about personal accolades but about preserving the integrity of Nigerian music history. As the industry continues to grow and gain international acclaim, let us ensure that every artist’s legacy is acknowledged and celebrated.

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