The Writah Raps

Hip-hop is as much a literary genre as it is a musical one, and as a means of storytelling the medium of hip-hop has lent its ability to convey meaning to both traditional and modern aspects of African society. And with a mic as his pen, P.P.S. the Writah crafts lyrical masterpieces that connect Senegal’s proud traditional history with it’s push toward the future. Continue reading “The Writah Raps”

Sister Fa: A Human Rights Activist

Sister Fa, formerly known as Fatou Diatta, was born in Dakar, Senegal. She debuted her first demo tape in 2000 and officially entered the stage or West African rap. Her songs are meant to expose the realities of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Continue reading “Sister Fa: A Human Rights Activist”

Excuse my Wolof

My last article discussed Youssoupha’s album NGRTD. While reading the lyrics of his song entourage, I realized Youssoupha discussed many of the same themes MC Solaar touches on in his early albums produced some 20 years ago. While you could write a novel on the thematic similarities of African hip hop produced two decades apart, there was one distinguishing factor of Youssoupha’s newer music that, hopefully, is indicative of improvements in African communities at home and abroad: the in-your-face nature of NGRTD across a top-5 album in the French music charts. Continue reading “Excuse my Wolof”

HHAP Episode 22: Thiat of Keur Gui on Hip Hop and Activism Beyond Senegal

In a time when hip hop culture has been under heavy criticism for the lack of political content in commercial hip hop, Keur Gui reminds us of what hip hop culture is capable of, in terms of both social commentary and political action. As founding members of the social and political movement Y’en A Marre (Enough is Enough), Keur Gui has provided heavy social commentary in their music for over 20 years. Coming out of Senegal, which is perhaps one of the most political hip hop scenes in the world, Keur Gui has used hip hop culture to engage with their audiences and to confront the state. Y’en A Marre is one of the only social movements deeply rooted in hip hop culture to effect political change. In Senegal, Y’en A Marre was involvement in mass mobilization campaigns, helped register voters, engaged in social protest, and promoted an ideology known as New Type of Senegalese (NTS). The idea behind NTS is that calls for social change go beyond requests for government action, but also rests in responsible citizenship. While the people may call for government-led development, the people also need to take responsibility for their contributions to environmental and social problems.Y’en A Marre is an ongoing movement, which has focused on Senegalese helping Senegalese. One of the projects Keur Gui is currently working on is a fundraiser to build a recording studio in their hometown Kaolack. The fundraiser can be found at http://projects.keurgui.net.
Follow Up with Keur Gui
Facebook: /KEUR-GUI-53925096450/
Twitter: @KEURGUIOFFICIEL
SoundCloud: /keurguicrewofficiel
Keur Gui on iTunes: /keur-gui/275586170
In this interview we speak with Thiat, one of the MCs in Keur Gui. Thiat discusses Keur Gui’s involvement in Y’en A Marre, the spread of the movement outside of Senegal, revised perspectives on Pan Africanism, the role of MCs in civil society, and more.
Episode Breakdown
6:33: “Nothing to Prove”, f/Kokayi (https://twitter.com/kokayi)
9:50: History of Keur Gui & their involvement in politics
20:49: Hip hop in Senegal
23:46: The rise of Y’en a Marre
27:57: New Type of Senegalese (NTS)
31:10: The spread of activism outside of Senegal
36:28: A new type of Pan Africanism
41:22: Hip Hop in East Africa
43:33: MCs as politicians and MCs as part of civil society
45:13: Upcoming music projects
47:28: Their fundraiser for the Kaolack studio
49:43: “Marginaux”
Scholarship on Y’en A Marre and Keur Gui
Berktay, Aligul. (2014). Pikine’s Hip Hop Youth Say “Enough is Enough” and Pave the Way for Continuous Social Change. Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati.
Fredericks, Rosalind. (2014). “The old man is dead”: hip hop and the arts of citizenship of Senegalese youth. Antipode, 46(1), 130-148.
Gueye, Marame. (2013). Urban guerrilla poetry: The movement Y’en a Marre and the socio-political influences of hip hop in Senegal. Journal of Pan African Studies, 8 (3), 22-42.
Lo, Sheba. (2014). Building our nation: Hip hop artists as agents of social and political change. Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati.
Prause, Lousia. (2013). Mit Rap zur Revolte: Die Bewegung Y’en a marre. Prokla, 43(1), 23-41.
Senghor, Fatou Kande. (2015). Wala Bok: Une histoire orale du hip hop au Senegal. Amalion Publishing.

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 22: Thiat of Keur Gui on Hip Hop and Activism Beyond Senegal”

Représentez Représentez

Growing up all around the French capital and hailing from all parts of francophone Africa, the Parisian hip-hop collective Sexion d’Assaut has proven that there is power in diversity. The variety of styles present in a given track mixed in with their individual lyrical collaborations combine to form a hypnotically rhythmic creation often imparting a good deal of knowledge as well. And in keeping with their powerful lyrical presence and melodious accompaniment, their track “Africain” does not disappoint. Continue reading “Représentez Représentez”

Diaspora Rappers

Diaspora based artists like K’Naan, Blitz the Ambassador, M3nsa, Wale, and French Montana, and Tabi Bonney have been covered heavily in this blog. There are several other first and second generation African MCs around the world who have not been covered as much in this blog. As students in the Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa course this semester are discussing Diaspora based artists, here are some of the artists those students are looking at. In the coming week students will be putting up posts on these and other African MCs that are based outside of the continent. Continue reading “Diaspora Rappers”

Toussa

Toussa is an up and coming female rapper in Senegal. Hailing from Dakar, she is one of the few female hip-hop artists that have gotten recognition. She resists patriarchy in many ways, including the way she dresses. She resists the stereotype that women should dress in a “respectable” manner. She created Gotal (which is a women’s group dedicated to promoting women in hip hop). The video showcases Toussa’s rap skills. One important thing Toussa says is that rap is something that one does, while hip-hop is something that you live. In the video, you get to see Dakar through Gotal’s eyes. We get a glimpse at the skills of all these women when they rap. One of Toussa’s rap songs called “Trompreur” describes that rap is not a game, but a rebellion. The best line, in my opinion, is “the rapper must speak between the people and the state line”. This is very important because women need to use their platforms to speak out for themselves and for those who do not have a voice. Toussa advocates for freedom of speech and for democracy. Another song that Toussa has written is called “The Life” where she talks about the difficulty in succeeding. There is definitely a challenge in succeeding in Senegal, but more so for women. She says that the people need a female rapper. I think the world needs female rappers. They overcome stereotypes and pursue their dreams that were previously unavailable. Gotal is collaborating with non-profit to promote women’s success and leadership. One woman in the group is the first female producer in Senegal. The video also takes care to show them in their communities like at the beach and in the Dakar streets. It is clear that Toussa is a key member of her community despite her rising fame and success.

 

Dakar’s Female MCs and the Power of the Cyp(her)

In a hip-hop scene as developed and competitive as Senegal’s, the cypher continues to act as a platform by which talented, young rappers make their debut. The fast-paced intensity of a hip-hop cypher is the perfect way for new artists on the scene to prove to their worth to the public. And in a society where women must give it their all to make an impression in the musical community, the cypher allows female MCs to show everyone that they are just as lyrically passionate and complex than their male counterparts— if not more. Continue reading “Dakar’s Female MCs and the Power of the Cyp(her)”

Toussa, or all-inclusive

Who is Astou Gaye, and how did she set the contemporary precedent for aspiring female rappers in the banlieus surrounding Dakar?

Better known by her stage name Toussa Senerap, Astou began her career calling out a highly-patriarchal Senegalese culture that withholds respect for women in both marriage and the hip-hop industry. There is no questioning Astou’s commitment to overturning society’s status-quo: her first experience with rap was in 50 Cent’s international banger, “In da Club” – a testament to selling drugs and pimping women that Astou transformed into a struggle for women’s emancipation. Continue reading “Toussa, or all-inclusive”

“Comment pouvez vous dormir?”

“How can you sleep?” was just one of the many jabs Senegalese rapper Eyewitness took at then president Abdoulaye Wade in his 2012 track “Message au President” or “Message to the President.”

Continue reading ““Comment pouvez vous dormir?””