Les Amazones d’Afrique ‘République Amazone’ LP/CD/DIG (Real World) 3/5

2017 is gearing up to be another weird year of hopeful and needed progression for Women’s Right’s in the Western World, but what of female’s position in West African society? Violence, abuse, and unequal access to education are amongst the oppressive forces facing African women.

Cue Les Amazones d’Afrique, a collective of twelve female musicians singing for gender equality. World renowned names, from Mali, Benin, Nigeria, and Gabon, combine to combat the issues. Kandia Kouyaté holds the Mande title of ngara, Mariam Doumbia, of Amadou and Mariam, has challenged the perception of blind musicians, and Angélique Kidjo is a multi-Grammy Award winning artist. It’s a fantastic line-up which works well together, not dominated by any one person.

Collaborative projects such as this are often completed by individuals recording their own vocals and sending them back and forth. Amazones is no Live Aid, however; all members record and perform together. It’s a demonstration of unity when unity is most needed, a notion at the forefront of the first single, ‘I Play The Kora’, an instrument which was denied to women for years.

Having Irish producer Liam Farrell, a.k.a Doctor L, behind the mixing desk allows the record to be played anywhere, from clubs in Berlin, to down your local pub. Doctor L has built a reputation for respectfully preserving the culture of the many African musicians he has worked with throughout his varied career, most notably producing Tony Allen’s 1999 album ‘Black Voices’. However, Doctor L’s involvement is also the record’s downfall, at times injecting too many cause-drowning dance beats.

Saying that, the members of Les Amazones d’Afrique can rank themselves amongst Margaret Ekpo, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and Gambo Sawaba, who were key members of Nigeria’s 20th-century independence and emancipation movement. Their funk, dub, and blues influenced République Amazone has a world-resonating message, and gives more insight to the challenges we face so universal equality is achieved.

Les Amazones d’Afrique full line-up:
Angélique Kidjo, Kandia Kouyaté, Mamani Keita, Mariam Doumbia, Mariam Koné, Massan Coulibaly, Mouneissa Tandina, Nneka, Pamela Badjogo and Rokia Koné.

Sam Turnell