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Africa Plays On From The Puma Compilation

Posted on July 13, 2006 by

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The influence of West African music is inescapable. From the mbalax rhythms of Senegal to the reggae of the Ivory Coast; the heavy funk of Cameroon to the hip life of Ghana, Africa has been planting the seeds of modern music for generations while its roots continue to spread throughout the world.

Transcending borders, languages and cultures, these roots have spawned new voices, unique stories and shared passions. African artists are now influenced by the very music they inspired, creating an ongoing musical dialogue that continues to evolve.

This is the spirit of Africa Plays On, an album that was conceived by Puma and NY-based music production collective Onda. Puma is current kit supplier to Football Associations of African countries Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia. With five of these teams playing in the World Cup, and PUMAs partnership with charitable organization UNITED FOR AFRICA, PUMA enlisted Onda to write a musical score for their Welcome to Football advertising campaign. Shortly afterwards, Onda proposed a compilation CD featuring artists from the musically-rich region, enlisted Paris-based record label Because Music and Africa Plays On was born.

Rene Arsenault, Executive Producer of the album notes, We saw a great opportunity to feature some of the most amazing musicians in the world, and our partners (Puma and Because) shared our vision and let us run with it. What we found is that West African artists are equally influenced by music from around the globe as they are by their own traditions. Its like a conversation in the purest form, which represents the true spirit of African music its something that should be shared in order to grow. This is what we wanted to capture on the album.

Africa Plays On features a number of collaborations, including Senegalese rapper Akons reworking of Malian duo Amadou and Mariams Coulibaly, The Roots-produced Kettode by Senegals Baaba Maal and Silani by Guineas Ba Cissoko and Sudanese rapper KNaan. Cocody Rock, the Ivory Coast classic by Alpha Blondy is remixed and features Frances Neg Marrons, Angolan vocalist Waldemar Bastos features Chaka Demus on a rework of Pitangha Madurinha while Cameroons Manu Dibango (of Soul Makossa fame) joins Onda for Ngando, which is a remix of the Puma Welcome to Football advertisement.

The final album version will also include collaboration between Grammy-winner John Legend and Cameroons Richard Bona and a Louie Vega remix of 2000 Blacks Got To Be Free by Fela Kuti and Roy Ayers.

Among the other tracks: Kelle Magni by Senegalese multi-instrumentalist Cheikh Lo, which was produced by Nick Gold (Buena Vista Social Club); Wahala by The Wahala Project, featuring musicians from Fela Kutis band; Defaal Lu Wor by Wasis Diop, a roots-inspired interpretation of The Talking Heads Once In A Lifetime; Yaa Densoa, a hip-life track by Ghanan rapper Tic Tac; Watusi, by Ghanas Osibisa, best know for their fusion of rock, chant and pulsating rhythms; and Amen by King Mensah, known as the golden voice of Togo.

Antonio Bertone, Puma Global Director of Brand Management explains Pumas involvement in the project:

The CD is just one element of a special charitable collection which allows us to assist UNITED FOR AFRICA on their mission to support humanitarian efforts across Africa. Much like music, football in Africa has become the language of freedom and we view this compilation as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on these often-overlooked African artists. Africa Plays On creates an inextricable link between African football, its music and culture and will benefit local African projects under the umbrella of UNITED FOR AFRICA.

The CD will be available on June 5th at major music retailers worldwide, PUMA concept stores and UNITED FOR AFRICA retail trams in Berlin throughout the World Cup.

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