Femi Kuti Taps Money Mark For New LP

Afrobeat singer/saxophonist also considering collaborations with ?uestlove, Common.

Second generation Afrobeat star Femi Kuti has tapped producer/keyboardist Money Mark to collaborate on material for his next studio album, due out in the early fall.

Mark, who performed on several Beastie Boys albums — including Check Your Head and Ill Communication — recently flew to Paris to join singer/saxophonist Kuti for preproduction work on the new record.

The Paris sessions are only expected to last about a week, although Kuti and Sodi, who produced and engineered Kuti's most recent album, 1999's Shoki Shoki, plan to travel to New York in April to finish recording the album with Mark, according to a spokesperson for Kuti.

Mark met Kuti, the son of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, last year when the keyboardist sat in on sessions for the Red Hot + Riot benefit album, which features contemporary artists covering Fela (see "Macy Gray, D'Angelo, More Tribute Fela Kuti").

"We got along pretty well," Mark said. "He showed me a tape of his new stuff, and I was just floored by it. So he invited me to go to Paris, where he'll start recording a new album. I'm pretty excited."

Mark, who has released a pair of acclaimed solo albums, 1996's Mark's Keyboard Repair and 1998's Push the Button, said he was also looking forward to performing alongside Kuti and the Africa 2001 brass and percussion ensemble.

"I think I'll play for sure," he said. "It's kind of open. There are some songs that he has that need keyboards. He likes my feel and taste, which I'm still confused about, to be honest, why people choose me. He wants me to play on it, and I'm honored to do it."

Kuti's publicist said several other guest artists, ranging from the Roots' ?uestlove to Common, may also turn out for the New York sessions, but the list won't be finalized until shortly before studio work begins.

The Red Hot + Riot album, which will benefit the Red Hot AIDS Charity Trust's initiatives in Africa, features contributions from Mark, Kuti, Macy Gray, D'Angelo, Dead Prez, Zap Mama and Bilal, among others, and is now expected to be released in late summer.

As for Kuti, MCA plans to release a single-disc version of the Shoki Remixed import this spring, which includes remixes of Shoki Shoki tracks from the likes of Francois K, I:Cube and DJ Gilb'r.

Kuti will also be taking to the road in April to support the release of Shoki Remixed, starting on April 26 in Austin, Texas.

Dates for Femi Kuti's spring tour, as provided by his publicist:

  • 4/26 - Austin, TX @ Stubb's

  • 4/27 - Austin, TX @ Stubb's

  • 4/28 - Houston, TX @ Houston International Festival

  • 5/2 - New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues - JazzFest

  • 5/3 - New Orleans, LA @ Saenger Theater

  • 6/17 - Los Angeles, CA @ Playboy Jazz Festival