Idris Elba to Release Nelson Mandela-Inspired Album, ‘mi Mandela’

Idris Elba steps onto the music scene with new album, 'mi Mandela,' scheduled to drop on November 24th.

During 2013, Idris had the prestigious opportunity to play the role of Nelson Mandela in the film, ‘Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom.’ Throughout the course of learning the role of Mandela, Elba was instantly inspired by the idea of ‘mi Mandela’ in Johannesburg.

"South Africa has numerous different tribes and each one has a musical expression, and each one has a very unique, different sound style," he explains. "At the time I had my studio at the apartment I was staying in while I was making Mandela – a little keyboard, a laptop – and as an experiment to myself, I vowed to keep making music."

It took the influence of another great man to bring the concept to fruition. Idris premiered the film for his father, who then encouraged him to bring the musical album to life. With tracks recorded between trips to Johannesburg, London and Mali, the album has a variety of contributors including Mumford & Sons, James Blake and George The Poet.

"I just want to embody South African musicianship, and what I love about UK musicianship, and see what would come out of it," Elba explained to Noisey. "Phuzekhemisi, for instance, isn't exactly well known to us, but he's an amazing Zulu guitarist who has sold over 30 million records to his own people. I also felt in touch with some producers who aren't getting the light of day outside of their own townships, yet they are dope."

The lead single, "Aero Mathata," is a further testament to this merging of different worlds, blending harmonies from veteran female Mbaqanga vocal group Mahotella Queens over an afro-tech concoction from producer Aero Manyelo.

Check out a few of the highlighted tracks from ‘mi Mandela’ below and pre-order the 11-track project here.