ASAP: the Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project

ASAP: the Afrobeat Sudan Aid Project

BandWorldFunk

Featuring the hottest Afrobeat musicians from around the world, “ASAP” has already raised over $130,000 to aid those suffering in Darfur. Our work is far from done: over 400,000 people have died from dehydration, disease, and violence. Join with us to save the millions of lives still at stake.

Biography

"ASAP" was the brainchild of two college students in the summer of 2004, as the violence in the Darfur region of Sudan escalated in both brutality and media coverage in the summer of 2004. Modiba Productions co-founders Eric Herman and Jesse Brenner, having recently returned from extended studies abroad in Africa, were working at the time on a documentary about African music in New York for the NPR-affiliated Afropop Worldwide.

Watching with increasing horror at the atrocities being perpetuated in Darfur, Herman and Brenner dropped everything and began working on ideas for a Darfur music benefit. Afrobeat immediate came to mind as the sound and message that an urgent campaign like this required.

Having earned an international reputation since the 1970s as a music of infectiously funky grooves, Afrobeat is inherently a music social and political action and change. Nigerian Fela Kuti, one of founders of Afrobeat, was famous for his political outspokenness in criticizing the corruption within the Nigerian government and others. Africa's Bob Marley -- nicknamed "The Black President" -- Fela Kuti was the voice of the discontented masses in Nigeria and throughout Africa for nearly three decades.

Since his passing in 1997, there has been a resurgence of activity in the Afrobeat movement. An accessible and danceable blend of funk, West African styles, pop, jazz, and hip-hop, its appeal stretches across a broad range of ages and demographics. In today's turbulent international political climate, artists throughout the world have seized upon Afrobeat as a way to amplify the voices of those who are suffering.

In short, Afrobeat was the ideal soundtrack to mobilize relief for the victims of this new and dire African crisis.

Bringing in sound engineer Dave Ahl and graphic artist Adam Tuck, all Modiba needed now was a sponsor. A close friend connected Brenner and Herman with Ben Cohen of “Ben & Jerry’s” ice cream fame, a philanthropist, social activist, and early celebrity advocate for the Darfur cause.

Cohen helped secure funding and support of the “ASAP” project through his political action non-profit, TrueMajority.org. By Christmas 2004, “ASAP” was on sale online as a CD and on iTunes as digital downloads. Within a single week, “ASAP” had reached the #1 World Music spot on the iTunes charts, and perhaps even more impressively, reached #24 overall, passing acts like Usher and Jessica Simpson on their way up the charts.

The youth market was especially enthusiastic about embracing the “ASAP” mission. College students from over 40 campuses across North America have sold “ASAP” to their peers. Music from “ASAP” was featured on Darfur public service announcements on MTV. Modiba also ran a promotional campaign in partnership with fashion giant Urban Outfitters, distributing free postcards with information about Darfur and ASAP in UO stores nationwide, and was also a featured album on UO’s music store.

With 100% of proceeds from album sales going to Oxfam-affiliated Kebkayiah Smallholder Charitable Society and Save the Children, “ASAP” has raised over $130,000 to date to help bring food, water, and medicine to the hundreds of thousands in need.

Discography

"ASAP" has been played on over 100 hundred college and independent radio stations in the U.S. and Canada, with numerous interviews and appearances, including Amy Goodman's acclaimed "Democracy Now!" news media program. The first track on the album, Akoya's "Star Wars - Modiba Darfur Remix," has been featured in an MTV PSA starring Don Cheadle and has been adopted across the nation by students and other activists as one of the "songs of the movement."