Although resident in the US, Nigerian singer Babatunde Kuboye maintains a respectable attachment to motherland that is evident in the sonic and import of his music. The multi-instrumentalist who was born and raised in the atmosphere of music began this journey at an early age, listing his days of watching and listening to his parents (Tunde and Fran Kuboye) perform alongside the late Afrobeat maestro, Fela Kuti as a propelling factor.
Baba, as he is often referred to, has spent a lot of his days outside the borders of Africa. He lived his early years shuttling Lagos and England, obtained a certificate in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Birmingham, UK, a Masters in Mobile Communications Systems from the University of Gildford, Surrey, UK and is currently based in America.
His years outside the continent hasn’t however, made him blind to the plight of his people, as his music although pop, carries a heart that breaths the struggle of his people and a heart that beats the melody of his roots. His newly-released sophomore album titled ‘One Day’ in abstract, is a ‘woke musical buffet’ as it is both conscious, and laudably holds soothing melodies, offered in variety.
Released in July to lend a voice in the fight against police brutality, ‘Things Are Hard’ – the first track on the album was a musical protest against the unsavory activities of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS). The socially charged record also shone a light on the continuous decadence of the Nigerian economy and the hope of a better Nigeria. “Me I want hustle make my life better o, but how I want work if I no get NEPA, No light no petrol, no water o”, he sang opening the track.
In commemoration, of his late mother Fran Kuboye who passed away in 1997, days after the demise of her uncle, Fela Kuti, Baba samples her vocals in the albums lead single, One Day. Late Mrs. Fran Kuboye and her husband Tunde Kuboye are reputed to be one of the pioneers of Jazz music in Nigeria. They reigned supreme with their band, Extended Family from the late 70s to mid-90s when Mrs. Kuboye departed.
In her honour, Baba sampled the vocals from her 1995 album, Jisting and enlisted his senior cousin, Femi Kuti, who did harmonic justice to the prophetic pop record. As he explained via an email to NET, Baba Kuboye says; he grew up performing alongside his mother but never anticipated losing her at an early age; which was his source of inspiration in creating this song, even 20 years after her demise: “…a long overdue tribute to her memory.” he said.
Not just a musical genius, Baba Kuboye is also a civil and women rights activist. His musical prowess and social awareness are the elements that form the core of the 8-track One Day album. It is a 31-minute ride of positivity and creativity all embellished with a decent amount of “wokeness”.
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