[New Releases] IDRIS ELBA
“Idris Elba Presents mi Mandela”
Label: Warner Bros Records
Playing Nelson Mandela in 2013’s film “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,’’ clearly struck a chord with British actor Idris Elba.
On “Idris Elba Presents mi Mandela,’’ a 14-track project on Elba’s own 7wallace imprint, the actor offers an uplifting journey inspired by Mandela and his late father. The music incorporates a variety of South African rhythms and styles, including Marabi, Kwela, Mbaqanga and Mbube, mixed with Western sounds.
Elba largely wrote the album on a keyboard and laptop while in Johannesburg during filming of “Long Walk to Freedom,’’ but it’s far from a solo venture. The lilting opening track “Aero Mathata’’ blends vocals from famed Mbaqanga group Mahotella Queens with producer Aero Manyelo’s Afro-tech beats. “So Many People,’’ featuring British actor-singer Shaun Escoffery, melds light African rhythms with ’70s-style Isaac Hayes soul.
It’s always tempting - and somewhat cynical - to dismiss efforts such as these as vanity projects, but “mi Mandela’’ feels more like a labor of love that Elba approached with an appropriate degree of humility. AP