Artist News Releases

Fuse ODG discusses pulling out of Band Aid 30 over its representation of Africa

By | Published on Thursday 20 November 2014

Fuse ODG

The fourth iteration of the Band Aid single, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, is due to hit number one in the UK singles charts this week. It is also already the fastest-selling single of the year so far (a record it broke within its first 24 hours on sale), and by mid-week had shifted over a quarter of a million copies. But, if you’ve been anywhere near the internet this week, you’ll no doubt be aware that not everyone is that happy about the latest Band Aid sing song fundraising venture.

There’s been a lot of criticism of Band Aid, and of Bob Geldof, a lot of which has been quite shouty. But a more measured response yesterday came from rapper Fuse ODG, who – as has been widely reported – pulled out of appearing on the new recording shortly before it took place on Saturday.

Writing for The Guardian, he said that he had been sceptical of the project from the off, having concerns that it would portray (and has portrayed in the past) the entire continent of Africa in a negative light.

“I was sceptical because of the lyrics and the videos of the previous charity singles”, he writes. “And I worried that this would play into the constant negative portrayal of the continent of Africa in the West. Geldof and I spoke at length about this and he agreed with me on many levels, assuring me that we could use it as an opportunity to showcase the positives of Africa”.

However, he continues: “On receiving the proposed lyrics on Thursday – two days before the recording was due to take place in London – I was shocked and appalled by their content. The message of the Band Aid 30 song absolutely did not reflect what Africa is truly about and I started to question whether this was something I wanted to be a part of”.

“[Though] in truth, my objection to the project goes beyond the offensive lyrics”, he goes on. “I, like many others, am sick of the whole concept of Africa – a resource-rich continent with unbridled potential – always being seen as diseased, infested and poverty-stricken. In fact, seven out of ten of the world’s fastest growing economies are in Africa.

He says that he is “not disregarding the fact that Ebola is happening and that people need help” but adds: “That image of poverty and famine is extremely powerful psychologically. With decades of such imagery being pumped out, the average westerner is likely to donate £2 a month or buy a charity single that gives them a nice warm fuzzy feeling, but they are much less likely to want to go on holiday to, or invest in, Africa”.

Fuse ODG’s debut album is titled ‘TINA’, an acronym for This Is New Africa, which represents his vision for showing Africa in a different light.

Read Fuse ODG’s article in full here, and watch the video for ‘TINA’, the title track from the album, here: