Senegalese rap duo Daara J are most known for their rap style and thought provoking lyricism. The group consists of N’Dongo D and Faada Freddy and the name “Daara” refers to the traditional Islamic school where children learn the Qu’ran and “how to become men.” According to Faada Freddy, the J means to sow something, hence they believe that in a more philosophical way, Daara J means ‘the school of life. Their music takes influence from hip hop, Afro-Cuban rhythms, and reggae and is performed in English, French, Spanish, or Wolof.
Due to the philosophical and socially conscious aspect of their music, it helps relates to many different groups within the Senegalese community and stays in the essence of Senegalese hip hop. Both Fredy and Ndongo agree that it was very difficult to get involved in music, because in Senegal if you don’t belong to a griot family, it’s hard for your family to accept your decision to continue down that path. It is common for Senegalese parents to tell their children to focus on their studies and not look anywhere else. Hence, the duo had to surmount their parents’ perception of rap as being framed in the language of gangstas, and its relationship to gun-related crime which was seen in American hip hop culture. Daara J stated in an interview with Independent from London: “We had to convince them that you could be a rapper and still abide by your roots. For us it has always been very important to get our inspirations from African music and the African lifestyle.” Their inspiration from African Music and African lifestyle was evident in their album “Boomerang.”
In 2003 the Senegalese rap duo Daara J released an album entitled Boomerang, based on the idea that when Africans were forced to leave the African continent during the transatlantic slave trade, what helped them was keeping in touch with their musical traditions, which evolved into hip-hop ultimately returning to Africa in the 1980s. These music traditions that were taken with enslaved Africans have grown and were refined during their time in the Americas and included drumming, rapping, and storytelling. This concept is seen throughout the song “Bayi Yoon.”
In their hit single “Bayi Yoon”, Daara J seem to be giving a moral lesson to all young Africans. However, what may seem like a school lesson in the song is just the reality of the situation for Daara J. Throughout the song a variety of topics come up in, in particular he states that Africa has passed the martyrs’ cape but there are still things that must be said and done. In the song he says “ Deug deug xam sa boppa geun gnou wakh la ki nga doon” meaning it is more important to know yourself rather than letting people tell you who you are. Therefore, there is this belief that many historians have falsified African history. Hence, they are calling for social change and reminding their audience that it is their duty to echo and speak to the next modern Pan-African generations. “Bayi Yoon” was a worldwide success especially in West Africa where it was baptized as the “anthem to the Africans.” The music video highlights the cultural richness of Africa in the noblest sense of the term. It glorifies more than ever Africa, its past, its history, its position as mother of the world. The importance of this video and through its lyricism is that young Africans must be willing to make a change in their communities whether it be through activism or simply embracing their culture.
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