Mádé Kuti is on the cover of the latest issue of TheWill Downtown magazine

Renowned Afrobeat singer and instrumentalist Made Kuti is featured in the January 23-29 edition of TheWill Downtown Magazine.

The weekly engages in a candid conversation with Made about his musical journey which unwittingly began when he joined his father’s band at the age of six, and what it meant to grow up in the New Afrika Shrine . He also makes mention of what the future holds for him regarding his career trajectory and owning his craft, not as Felathe grandson or Femi Kutibut as a multi-talented Grammy nominee.

Read excerpts from the interview below.

On what it was like growing up

It was enlightening because my father made the shrine with a very clear purpose. It was meant to be a space for liberal thoughts, so anyone who entered felt free to speak and think. All I understood as
a child was that many people misunderstood what the place stood for. I never really understood why because I didn’t have a better understanding of journalism and the media, and the kind of misconceptions they have about family. All I knew was that I watched my dad play four times a week every week, and three of those shows were free. The sanctuary was always full at the time – for each show there were no less than 3,000 people in the sanctuary and across the street. Also, the area we were in was not as hectic then as it is now, so everyone who came there came to the shrine.

As a child, all I understood was that it was a lot of music and politics. People are from all over Nigeria, there are a lot of white people, and a lot of pictures of people I didn’t recognize at the time. People like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Marcus Garvey, etc. Because I didn’t recognize them, somewhere along the line I started to question the images I was seeing, which is really what sanctuary is. If you come here seeking enlightenment, you will find it; it’s that kind of space. And because I did the research to find out who these people are, that then places me and my identity on the kind of path that I now choose to take. If I didn’t know these people, what they did and stood for, I probably wouldn’t be who I am today.

Why it took him until 2020 to release your first single

I was never rushed at first and really wanted to finish my studies at Trinity. But when I got those rejections at those conservatories, before I auditioned at Trinity, I started writing an album in case I didn’t get accepted to college. So before Legacy+ I had already written an album of about 10 tracks and now it’s somewhere in the archives. And when I was done with Trinity, I had the space and the time to write again.

The moment he found out his debut album was Grammy nominated

I became crazy. We were on tour, on a break on a tour bus in Belgium, we had two days off. And I had checked because I knew the nominations were being announced that day, so I was watching live. I expected my dad to get a nod, but he released a solo project, Stop The Hate, at the same time we released Legacy+, so I didn’t know which of the albums they would name. Nominations for World’s Best Musical Performance were announced first and featured Pà Pá Pà, a song by My Dad and I’ve Gone Crazy. I was just happy that he was nominated because it’s like they don’t want to recognize the effort and the amount of musical sense he puts in. Then the Global Music Album category came along and I had already thought that because they named my dad in the previous category, they wouldn’t name him in this one. I actually ran around the bus when Legacy+ was announced. Because the album was not commercially successful, it was good to see that the musicians respected it.

The full interview in the new issue is available here.

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