Petite Noir accuses Damon Albarn project Africa Express of musician exploitation
UPDATE 3: Africa Express responds.
Founded in 2006 by Blur and Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn, the Africa Express project brings together Western and African musicians to collaborate. Fatboy Slim, Billy Bragg, Johnny Marr, Femi Kuti, and Songhoy Blues are among the artists who have been involved with the project, and the most recent one-off showcase on February 2 at the Tennis Club JHB in Johannesburg, South Africa included Albarn along with Nick Zinner, Petite Noir, Sibot, Spoek Mathambo, Ghetts, Spoko, Nabihah Iqbal, Infamous Boys, Remi Kabaka, Dominowe, Jakinda and Otim Alpha.
Petite Noir, the musical alias for Yannick Ilunga, posted on Facebook about his experience working with Africa Express, including recording music for an album. "21st century colonization is alive," he writes. "This is the contract that was given out to all the artists AFTER all the music from everyone was done. We had artists from around the world and South Africa come in and collaborate but mostly African artists. White people were heading the project. Some people ended up making about 6 tracks. Once the recording time was done, we were treated like we were nothing all of a sudden." He continues, "Then we were given this piece of shit below which states that they own all the music and we are given 1£... that is obviously all that we are worth right?"
UPDATE: Petite Noir's Facebook post has been deleted.
UPDATE 2: Another artist involved in Africa Express, Nabihah Iqbal, pictured above and FKA Throwing Shade, took to twitter to discuss her experience working with the organization. "Last week I participated in Damon Albarn's Africa Express project in South Africa," she writes. "I got the chance to collaborate with local artists, making music, and it was so inspiring. The project was also a very eye-opening experience for me and it made me realise how things really work." She continues, "At the end of the week all the artists, including myself, received this contract. The terms state that in exchange for a nominal £1 fee, Africa Express gets all the rights to all of the music we made, forever. Regarding royalties, they're saying "we'll pay you if we feel like it." 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. I have told them that I don't just want them to amend my contract, but to amend ALL the artists' contracts. I am still awaiting their response. I will keep updating with any developments. I felt obliged to share this contract because I believe it is in the public interest. People need to know what is really behind the façade of this "charity". As a POC, I know the playing field is not level. It never has been. But unless we take the risk to speak out about these injustices, things will never change." See her picture of the contract below.
Previously: The contract,
which you can view in full below, grants copyright of all recordings and footage to Africa Express, in exchange for 1£ (roughly $1.41)
In consideration of the payment of £1 receipt of which is hereby acknowledged you hereby give and grant us all necessary consents with regards to making recordings(s) of your performance (‘the Recordings”) and to filming you making those Recordings together with any interviews you have have given.