Aminata Gaye brings a feminist flair to Hip-Hop in Senegal with her conscious rhymes and unapologetic messages. 27-year-old Gaye is a veiled rapper in Dakar, Senegal who goes by the stage name Mina la voilée (Mina the veiled one).
In the early stages of her career, the backlash from the public was very harsh and demeaning. Many people felt as though a Muslim woman rapping in a veil was inappropriate but those opinions could not stop Gaye. Rather than being deterred from her passion for music and social justice, Gaye used this platform as an opportunity to educate the public on the human rights abuses that happen within her community. Many of her songs call attention to issues like rape and oppression and empower women to speak out as well.
In an interview with The Guardian, Gaye describes how difficult it can be in the rap industry with so many varying identities. Simply being a woman, in a society that often devalues the voices and perspectives of women can be extremely difficult but navigating the almost entirely male-dominated music industry is something Gaye has begun to do with ease.
In her song “Girl Power“, she discusses the importance of women taking ownership of their circumstances and allowing men to manipulate them. Some of her lyrics call attention to the word muñ which in Wollof refers to women who allow men to dictate their lives and take their freedom without putting up a fight. The word embodies the complexity of silence/ patience and how such behavior lends to a culture that tolerates rape and the victimization of women.
Through her music, she hopes to encourage women to see the ways in which they can oppose structures of abuse and violence by using their voice and finding strength in their image. Gaye is not alone in the diffusion of this powerful message. She is a member of Genji, a group of over 70 female Senegalese rappers, singers DJs and graffiti artists whose music embodies the empowerment and amplification of women’s voices through art. Together Gaye’s mission to free stonger feminist minds with her powerful lyrics and rhymes has become even more of a reality in Senegal.