MHD briefly leaves the set of a new PUMA campaign to talk to SoccerBible. The young Afro-Trap artist is in Yaounde, Cameroon, with a brand that shares his love for African heritage, and to star in a new film with Roger Milla and the Cameroon squad to launch their new home shirt.

MHD has shot to stardom in the past two years, from delivering pizzas to selling out tours worldwide. His meteoric rise to the top is part influenced by his passion for football, a passion which he references throughout his music. Letting us in on his relationship with the game, MHD talks to us about his explosive career, the cross-over between music and football, and his role in the new PUMA Cameroon shirt launch.

MHD, you were delivering pizzas less than two years ago. Can you tell us about your career so far? It must be crazy?

Yes, so much has happened since then. Everything happened very fast for me, from the moment I started the Afro Trap series things have quickly accelerated and sometimes it's hard for me to realize everything that’s happened to me in the last two years. But it is a positive thing; travelling, doing concerts, my fans...

You've chalked up 600m views on YouTube in just over a year. Why do you think your career has taken off at 
such an incredible rate?

I think that I came on the scene at the right time, the public wanted ambient, dancing and festive songs. And then there was the big Afro wave that arrived in France, when I published my first freestyle on the instrumental of P Square, the public was ready and waiting for this type of song and I was quickly asked for part 2. Everything happened naturally in the end.

At what point did you realise things were getting serious?

I realized that things were growing as the concert dates began to fall. I was offered to play everywhere in France and then quickly in Europe. I said at that moment that there really was a craze. And then, of course, on social media, the number of messages I received was increasing every day.


Afro-Trap. You’ve pioneered that genre. Can you tell us about it?

In fact, Afro trap is a mixture of genres. A mixture of the music I listened to as a child: Afro, whether the traditional kind that my parents listened to or the new wave, with artists such as P Square, Wizkid, Davido, and rap music with which a lot of young people of my generation grew up.

You’re obviously a big football fan. Why have you chosen to bring football into your music?

Football has always been a part of my life. Since being little, I followed the matches and competitions… I also played football... to be honest it is a sport which plays a role in my daily life.

Was referencing football in your tracks something you planned on doing? Or did it just happen?

It really came quite spontaneously, like I just said football has always been a part of my life. When I wrote the song “Champions League” for example, it was the night of a football game, I was with my friends and I launched this gimmick like that, to have a laugh in conversation. It was the same thing for a song like Roger Milla who is an essential African player and his dance had touched me. In fact, it is simply a subject that inspires me.

What did football mean to you when you were growing up?

Football is the sport that I follow the most. When I can, I’ll go to the stadium, I like the atmosphere, the moments of joy and adrenalin that it brings. Very much like music, it’s part of my life and it drives me.


How has the game influenced your music career?

I can say that football has helped me, because when the footballers began to celebrate goals with my dance (le mouv) it brought a huge spotlight to my music. I know that there are a lot of footballers who listen to me and I am also following their careers, there is a lot of support and respect for our respective fields.

Your references to football in your music has caught the attention of many footballers. You’re good friends with Paul Pogba, how did that come about?

First of all, we are both of Guinean origin. With regards to how we know each other, it was his brothers, the twins (who also play football), who were the first to come up to me at a concert, and then they played my music to Paul who got in touch with me, it was done very naturally, we are in the same spirit...

Which other players have you become close to?

There are several who I get on well with. I get the chance to travel a lot for my concerts, and often footballers come to see me and that’s when I have the opportunity to meet them, and get some of them on stage to dance le mouv.

You've got a track titled Roger Milla. Can you tell us how that happened?

Roger Milla is a legendary African footballer. I used to watch videos of his celebratory goal dance on the internet and it directly inspired me to write this song.


You were three years old when Roger Milla first did the dance. How did you become aware of it?

Through YouTube videos. And I had already often heard his name because in Africa he is very famous among football fans.

Someone like Roger Milla was a true performer, an entertainer. Do you see similarities between football and music in that sense?

Yes totally, in music it's like in football, you have to train, work, prepare to be ready and when the time comes you go for it. After that it’s also a lot about image, we are public people, therefore inevitably we have some influence on young people.

Has Roger told you what he thinks about the track?

Yes, he enjoyed the song, I had the opportunity to meet him several times and each time it went very well, there is a good feeling between us.

You’ve got a huge collection of football shirts. Can you tell us how you've assembled them?

I have too many of them! I have more now because of travelling. There are the ones from my favourite African teams, the big French clubs like PSG and Bordeaux that I have supported for a long time... I really have a lot, I would have to empty my wardrobe and sort them one by one to be able to talk about them!


What was your reaction when you were asked to come to Yaounde and launch the new Cameroon shirt?

I was honored to represent an African country already and not just any of them because they are the champions of Africa. Also, there is continuity in the story with the Roger Milla one so it made sense to me.

What do you love most about visiting Africa?

There are many things, the people’s mentality, the atmosphere, the food... Africa is my roots, I feel good there.

How does the culture of football in Africa compare to football in Europe?

The culture of football is also very important in Africa, we have seen with the CAN, Africans are great supporters. Football matters a lot in Africa, and just like here, it makes the youngest people dream.

You’ve shot a video with the Cameroon players. How was that experience?

It was a really good experience, I was happy to be able to do things there, with them. The welcome was everything and more.


How was the experience of going to visit the local pitches in Yaounde and meet the kids?

It’s always a great experience meeting kids, to give them a little bit of joy from our humble level. Football makes children dream from all over the world, and it's still a sport, so in some ways it also participates in education, rules and learning team spirit…

What does it mean to you that these kids are recognising you and know your music?

It’s always made me happy, especially since the beginning I have been particularly sensitive to my fans in Africa. And of course, the kids are always very moving.

You’re very close with your African roots. What does it mean to you that these countries are happy for you to represent them in their football shirts?

I feel flattered. Africa has brought me a lot culturally and musically, so perhaps in some way I’m trying to give it back at my best by representing and helping to convey a good image of African culture.

You have a big attachment to Africa, as does PUMA. Is that one of the reasons you chose to work with the brand?

Totally. I find that the brand has the desire to show off the continent and promote it, these are values that I obviously share.

Go behind-the-scenes of the MHD x PUMA Football Cameroon film here.