Fela Kuti, legendary Nigerian musician, producer, political radical, arranger, and outlaw – has been nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The originator of Afrobeat also currently leads all 2021 nominees on the official “fan ballot” leaderboard. Fela is nominated alongside other varied and esteemed artists such as Jay-Z, Tina Turner, Rage Against The Machine, Foo Fighters, + more. If elected, Kuti would become just the second African-born member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Inductees will be announced in May, and the 2021 Induction Ceremony will take place in Cleveland this fall.
2021 also marks the 50th anniversary of some of Fela’s most beloved recordings, including his album ‘London Scene’ as well as the legendary record he made with Ginger Baker of Cream. Special versions of each will be reissued later this year via Partisan Records. 2021 will also see the release of the fifth installment of on an ongoing vinyl reissue box set series (previous volumes have been curated by Erykah Badu, Questlove, and Brian Eno). More information on all upcoming Fela releases in 2021 to be announced soon.
This year, Partisan Records (home to Fela’s catalog) is also launching a scholarship program at the famed Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London (Fela’s alma mater, back when it was known simply as Trinity College of Music). Further details on the scholarship to be announced shortly.
Fela’s legacy spans decades and genres, touching on jazz, pop, funk, hip-hop, rock, and beyond. While he never achieved true icon status during his lifetime, the last (roughly) decade has seen a broad resurgence in his popularity, and a critical reevaluation of his life, music, and influence. In 2008, the biographical musical ‘Fela!’ (co-produced by Jay-Z and Will Smith) became a surprise hit off-Broadway and then on Broadway itself. Since then, Beyoncé performed Fela’s “Zombie” at Coachella, he’s been called out as an influence by everyone from Paul McCartney to Questlove, and sampled by Missy Elliott, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Nas, and more. Vice President Kamala Harris even used Fela’s music at her and President Biden’s first joint event together.