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Damon Albarn’s Africa Express responds to claims of musician exploitation

Damon Albarn Africa Express
Damon Albarn with Rokia Traoree, Africa Express 1992

Africa Express, the project of Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn that brings Western and African musicians together, was accused of exploitation by two musicians, Petite Noir and Nabihah Iqbal. Both shared a contract that asked for rights to all resulting recordings and footage for a nominal fee. “People need to know what is really behind the façade of this ‘charity,'” Iqbal said. “How is this “committed to supporting music in Africa”? I have contacted the organizers of Africa Express stating that I cannot sign this contract until it has been amended so that the terms are more egalitarian.” Petite Noir, aka Yannick Ilunga, said, “21st century colonization is alive.” He continued, “This is the contract that was given out to all the artists AFTER all the music from everyone was done…once the recording time was done, we were treated like we were nothing all of a sudden.”

Now Africa Express has responded with a statement on Facebook. “AE is not run to make a profit,” the statement reads. “As we pay all the travel, accommodation and other costs for Western artists joining us on trips, we ask them to volunteer their time. They can make a contribution to our costs if they are willing. We do not pay them. All our contracts are negotiated, discussed and agreed, not inflicted.” Read their statement in full below.

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