In a weird show of solidarity, two media titans and unlikely partners in rhyme or business have chosen to combine their numerous resources again in an effort to bring a little known but lauded musical to life. Former Crack rapper Sean Jay-Z Carter and clean, “Kiddy” rapper Will Smith, are both throwing their Herculean financial strength behind Fela, a play which documents the life and struggles of world renowned musician and activist, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
At the cost of $11 million dollars, the Broadway musical is set to debut on November 23rd, and will include many of Kuti’s classic songs as well as other African, Jazz, and Funk influences. Sahr Ngaujah, whom received accolades for his off-Broadway performances of the character, will reprise the roll that has garnered him so much attention.
Fela Kuti, whom was loved for his musical contributions, was also revered for his staunch stance against injustices of all origins. A well known human-rights activist, Kuti drew much of his socio-political understanding from the American Black Power Movement and the social figures that dominated its progression. He died in 1997 while in jail due to his activism resulting from HIV complications in 1997.
Previews of Fela will begin on October 19th at the Eugene O’Neill Theater on New York’s 230 West 49th Street. They are set to run until April 4th.
The Fresh Prince and Jay-Z are also financial investors in the beauty line Carol’s Daughter.