Yes, that's 45 albums over the next 18 months.
The late, legendary Afrobeat bandleader Fela Kuti is a figure so compelling and influential that bands have based entire careers on single strands of his music. But for years, many of his records remain hard to find in America. Not for long, though. Knitting Factory Records is getting set to reissue pretty much everything the man ever did– 45 albums, to be exact.
Knitting Factory's reissue series will kick off on October 27 with the career-spanning anthology The Best of the Black President. The compilation collects 13 Fela tracks, with the deluxe edition including a DVD that will feature bits of the film Music Was the Weapon, along with footage of Fela at the Berlin Jazz Festival and Glastonbury Festival, as well as other goodies.
The reissue campaign will take place over the next year and a half, and it will mark the first time these albums have all been available on vinyl in North America. It will also feature the first official release of the entire catalogue of Fela's 1960s band Koola Lobitos.
The timing of these reissues is no accident. Fela!, Bill T. Jones and Jim Lewis' musical about the Nigerian legend's life, is set to make its Broadway debut later this year. The show, which ran off-Broadway last year, features arrangements from Afrobeat new jacks and Fela disciples Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra. Allhiphop reports that Jay-Z and Will Smith are among the investors behind the show's Broadway run. Fela! will open at the Eugene O'Neill Theater on November 23.