As hip-hop culture continues to grow in Mali, new artists are finding ways to emerge into the highly conservative society. Among them is Master Soumy, a rapper from Bomako. Born with the name Ismael Doukouré, Soumy has earned the titles of lawyer and activist. Out of twenty brothers, he was the only boy to attend a formal school and university. During this time his radical grandfather was his biggest role model, inspiring him to not finish school but become a revolutionary.
Soumy has always enjoyed hip-hip, listening to various American, French, and African artists such as Daara J and PBS. He personally relates to narratives within the genre, stating “Hip hop was made to denounce injustice and social inequality. It was meant as a way for black men to reevaluate themselves because in American ghettos the life of black people could be very hard.” In a song titled “Ca ne va pas aller,” Master Soumy sings about Malian girls and the commercialisation of sexual relations and material ambitions. He also addresses the increasingly common occurrence of young Malian men turning to domestic servants, who are among the poorest, most disadvantaged, and vulnerable groups, for sexual satisfaction. His translated lyrics roughly state:
“It’s not even worth talking about the girls because the only way to get the ‘Bamako Joliden’ (girls from Bamako) is to give them a brand new ‘Power K’ (motorbike). Alternatively you can lower yourself and go after the ’52’ (domestic servants). The ‘heads of the cooking pots’ become our only hope.”
Fans can clearly tell that Master Soumy sees music as a platform, finding ways to highlight the repressive tendencies of the government and the general struggle of Malians. In a country where it’s a dangerous task to take such a public stance, Master Soumy is eager to use rap to change society and mentalities within Mali.