Beninese Hip Hop and Activism: E-Ray

Artist E-Ray

A longtime veteran of Benin’s scene, Régis Ezin ‘E-Ray’ is an Beninese activist rapper not afraid to speak out on social issues. His discography, ranging from 2005 to 2015, repeats his core messages of social change and personal progress. He released his first single in 2005 and has continued since. Recently, he has released singles Black Sun Son and Ma Prière. He has released two albums: EXPERIENCE (2007) and E.RAYZISTIBLE (2010).

E-Ray’s philosophy and approach to life lies in his work. Ma Prière and Encore, two of his singles, are great representations of what E-Ray is about. Throughout the tracks, universal messages of self-improvement, respect, social/social activism, tolerance, and education. While these songs clearly state his worldview, each of his hits are embedded with his core values. Take E-Ray’s 2013 single, Black Sun Son, as an example.

Less messaging focused than his other songs, Black Sun Son showcases E-Ray as he parties at a club. Yet here is where E-Ray challenges the narrative and puts his own twist on a classic music video. Rather than portray drinking and partying to demonstrate his toughness and social capital, E-Ray instead flips the script and delivers personal verses focused on his growth as an artist. Instead of a rowdy party, E-Ray and his friends appear to be chilling and having fun, intermixed with scenes of a crew recording the song. The main point possibly being that making music (as well as making an identity as an artist) can be a fun, inclusive activity. Overall, even at a party E-Ray continues speaking to issues he cares about.

That E-Ray’s messages are interlinked and carefully sprouted throughout his albums and singles is no accident. E-Ray has a Masters in Intercultural Management and Translation from the Institut de Management Interculturel et de Communication in Paris, France (this helps explain the prominence of French in his songs). Clearly, he is using his education and international talents for good.

For more E-Ray, check out his website, Facebook page, and Youtube channel

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