The Way I See It: Artists on Politics
Kuti, Seun, New Statesman (1996)
Should politics and art mix?
Definitely. Art is like checks and balances for government. For a Afrobeat it's very important that art cannot be for entertainment alone you have to ask for change.
Does money corrupt an artist?
I don't care how much philosophy you have, if you want to be professional these days you have to be a businessman-and business ruins an artist. I'm going through that process at the moment, thinking: "Fuck all the money, I don't care if I'm broke, I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing."
Which artists do you most admire, and why?
My dad [the Afrobeat musician Fela Kuti], because of what he stood for in music. Not only politics, but his ideology, his belief in the equality of all African men.
Which artist do you least admire, and why?
The kind who thinks music is a machine for making money. I dislike the Pussycat Dolls and the Neptunes. I'm big hip-hop fan, but some things don't lie well with me.
What inspires you?
My environment, my society, where I'm from. Our lives in Africa. Lagos is exciting, but if you don't know anybody there, don't go-you might not even make it out of the airport alive. What do I like about Lagos? Everybody's a Lagos boy-your Lagos mentality stays with you wherever you go: sharp on your toes, nothing gets by you. London has a lot of posers. Blacks trying to be white, whites trying to be black, Indians trying to be white. I think, "Who are you, man?"
If you were world leader, what would be your first law? …