Follow Us on Twitter

Africa Plays On

Africa Plays On

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE FIFA World Cup 2006 may have come to an end with the joyful sight of Italy holding aloft the trophy, but the contribution of the African teams provided some of the tournament highlights (not least Ghana’s exploits against the Czech Republic and Brazil).

New album Africa Plays On is being released to celebrate their contribution and also to look ahead to 2010 when the first FIFA World Cup to be held on African soil will kick off in South Africa.

It’s a long-player that’s designed to showcases the vivid and rich diversity of the continent’s music and was conceived by PUMA and New York-based music production collective ONDA to support PUMA’s World Cup campaign with the charitable organisation, UNITED FOR AFRICA.

Inspired by the six sub-Saharan African Football Associations who are sponsored by PUMA – Angola, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Togo – it includes tracks from each of these musically-rich nations, plus contributions from artists around the world, including Akon, The Roots and John Legend.

And while it remains an acquired taste, it does very much raise awareness of a different style of music that has much to offer the world-stage – music that we’re bound to hear more of in four years’ time as the eyes and ears of the world descend on the African nations for another festival of football.

Of the collaborations to keep a closer eye on are US-based Senegalese rapper Akon’s reworking of Malian duo Amadou and Mariam’s Coulibaly, which is given a semi-mainstream credibility by Akon’s distinct vocals laid over some unmistakeably African rhythms.

Hip-hop kings, The Roots lend their production expertise to Kettode by Senegal’s Baaba Maal and Silani by Guinea’s Ba Cissoko, which waltzes along on an inspirational bedding of South American style guitar licks, while there’s a distinctly reggae vibe surrounding the Cocody Rock Remix of Alpha Blondy featuring Neg Marrons.

Album opener Please Don’t Stop benefits from a pleasing collaboration between America’s Grammy-winner John Legend his smooth as silk vocals and Cameroon’s Richard Bona, while Amen by King Mensah really succeeds in bringing the spirit of Africa into your living room.

The album closes with a Louie Vega remix of 2000 Blacks Got To Be Free by Fela Kuti and Roy Ayers that merely serves to underline the quality that has been put into the creation of this album.

So while not every track scores highly, and some may question whether it’s too early to be putting it out given that Africa is four years away in football terms, there’s plenty to recommend it to the more adventurous listener who has an ear for world music.

Track listing:

  1. Please Don’t Stop – Richard Bonna feat. John Legend
  2. Kelli Magni – Cheikh Lo
  3. Coulibaly – Amadou & Mariam Feat. Akon [Akon Remix]
  4. Cocody Rock – Alpha Blondy Feat. Neg’ Marrons [2005 Remix]
  5. Wahala – Wahala Project
  6. Number One – Daara J
  7. Kettode – Baaba Maal [The Roots Mix]
  8. Defaal Lur Wor – Wasis Diop
  9. Silani – Ba Sissoko Feat. K’Naan
  10. Watusi – Osibisa
  11. Yaa Densoa – Tic Tac
  12. Ngando – Onda Feat. Manu Dibango
  13. Pitanga Madurinha II – Waldemar Bastos Feat. Chaka Demus
  14. Amen – King Mensa
  15. 2000 Blacks Got To Be Free – Roy Ayers & Fela Kuti [Louie Vega EOL Mix]