Music legend and political activist Fela Kuti will have his life portrayed in an upcoming biopic. Hollywood Reporter reports the film will be based on Michael Veal’s book Fela: The Life and Times of an African Musical Icon, which Focus Features recently obtained.
Kuti, who was born in Nigeria in 1938, went to school at London’s Trinity College of Music, where he invented a popular style of music called Afrobeat; a blend of funk, jazz, Yoruba (a West African percussion style), and a kind of Nigerian-influenced “wall of sound” arrangement for guitars and horns.
Afrobeat became popular all over the world in the late 1960s, setting the stage for Kuti to become a political activist and leader. While touring the United States, Kuti was thrown out of the country after becoming involved with the Black Panther Party. Back in Nigeria, he started the Kalakuta Republic, a headquarters and living commune for his band, recording studio, and family.
The Kalakuta Republic was attacked in 1977 after Kuti’s band Africa ‘70 released Zombie, an album criticizing the Nigerian government. In the attack, Kuti’s mother was killed.
These are just a few basic facts about this music icon, so as you can see, it’s almost impossible for Focus Features to screw this biopic up. The hardest part for the filmmakers will likely be choosing what interesting stories in Kuti’s life to cut. Here’s hoping they don’t cut the story behind his album Expensive Sh#t.