AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange

My Friend Fela and Birth of Afrobeat

Season 12  Episode 1

MY FRIEND FELA provides a new perspective on the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, in order to counter the most often portrayed narrative of Fela “as an eccentric African pop idol of the ghetto.” The complexity of Fela’s life is unraveled through the eyes and conversations of his close friend and official biographer, the African-Cuban Carlos Moore.

As the documentary unfolds, it reveals the many influences and forces that shaped Fela’s extraordinary life: from the relationship he had with his mother to his many and problematic relationships with women, from his ties with his spiritual advisor Professor Hindu to his mutually influential encounters with African Americans. By placing Fela’s personal history in a pan-African context, the film becomes not only a portrait of one man but also of a pan-African generation.

What do music icons, Brian Eno, Questlove, Erykah Badu, Flea, Dilla, Damon Albarn, and Mos Def have in common? They each collaborated with or have been influenced by legendary drummer, Tony Allen. In 2017, Allen was invited to America to executive produce the band, Chicago Afrobeat Project. During his visit, he recounted how he and partner, late musician Fela Kuti, laid the groundwork for what would become Afrobeat. BIRTH OF AFROBEAT, a hybrid live-action/animated film, illustrates Tony Allen's story.

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