Album Review: Les Amazones d’Afrique – République Amazone [Real World Records, 10th March 2017]

République Amazone, is a work, crafted by a supergroup of ten divas of African music – Les Amazones d’Afrique, the most well known of them being Beninese international superstar Angelique Kidjo. The album, lively from beginning to end, is primarily concerned with melding rhythm, elegance, and a message against the oppression of women. Here, young and old mesh well, whether it be the difference in age between the singers, Nigerian singer Nneka is a young rapper and singer, whereas Mariam Doumbia (from Malian duo Amadou and Mariam) is of an older generation, or the fact that the new age synth including instrumentals of “Full Moon” thrill against old school, slow singing. “I Play the Kora”, meshes old singing and new school rhythm as music for the dance floor.

Republique Amazone is groovy, as if rooted in urbane feminism wherein one wears traditional garments while contemplating and enjoying the television and radio of the age one lives in. In our time of columns published on the internet, documentaries, talk shows, coffee shops, boutique stores, and other infrastructure for the pursuit of one’s individuality in just about every city in the world, it makes perfect sense that this album’s real strength is its sound. “Kounani” is a vivid example, as a mix of hip-hop instrumentals, and singing, like a river.

The music of different countries in Africa; Benin, Nigeria, Mali, and Gabon, are combined into this fictional republic (republique). It is a work that is dynamic, spiritual, and diverse. If ‘republic’ means that every singer had an equal say in what the final product would be for each song, then what more valuable lesson could the politicians of today learn from its teachings.