“Respect the Nubians”

Hip Hop requires authenticity. No matter how you define authenticity it is the central element to hip hop. As stated in The Struggle for Authenticity and Against Commercialization in Tanzania “to be considered hip hop you need to stay true to the origins of hip hop as a tool of resistance and a voice of the people. For some authenticity is about skill, staying true to hip hop’s emphasis on lyrical skill and creativity, even if one is not overtly politically or socially conscious.” Ghanian and Senegalese hip hop is a form of art used to promote a message of social and political change. The hip hop artists produced from Ghana and Senegal infuse in their music a message of resistance and a voice for the people. Hip Hop is just one of many tools used to incite change for the people of Africa.

Senegalese hip hop group Positive Black Soul is a demonstration of how hip hop music is a form of art used to make a political statement. Their name alone, Positive Black Soul, is an affirmation of deconstructing the derogatory view of blackness. One of their songs with a political message is “Respect the Nubians”. The song is a rally cry to respect everyone especially black women and men. The songs seeks to reinforce the positive image of what it means to be Nubian, dispel the negativity associated with Nubians, and display the beauty of Nubians. In the last verse of “Resect the Nubians” they rap, “Sometimes I wonder, under the sun/ I used to ponder ‘cos we’re in the same situation/Here and yonder, there just trying to divide to rule/Takin’ us for fools, teach us lies from the early school/Don’t let no one put the blame on your brotherman/That’s a sham, you’re a true nubian, damn”. Positive Black Soul outwardly speaks to the common struggle that is faced by black people no matter where one is on the map. Black people share a common struggle of being divided for the sake of greed and being taught a one-sided story of black history. They tell their listening audience don’t allow your blackness to be the blame. Blackness being used for self-interest is part of a bigger scheme and “you’re a true nubian,” not just a commodity. The song is a message of resistance and a cry for a change in the treatment of Nubians.

Positive Black Soul incorporates activism in their music. The song “Respect the Nubians” is a demonstration of resistance. Positive Black Soul is using their music to change the dialogue surrounding blackness and to disprove the western aesthetic. Black people and black culture is often deemed inferior to that of whiteness. Using hip hop as a weapon to change black inferiority and promote black empowerment can change the white/black binary. Positive Black Soul and other artists out of Senegal are ensuring that hip hop remain authentic and remain a platform to be a voice for the people.

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Positive Black Soul is known as one of the first rap and hip-hop groups in the country of the Senegal. Based in Dakar, Senegal, the group began as a collaboration between two members from the Didier Awadi’s Syndicate and King MCs. Didier Soutou Awadi and Doug E. Tee got to together to form the group Positive Blacks Soul known for their use of traditional Senegalese instruments, political rhyming, and mostly Wolof language. The two were originally rivals who competed against each other and were from different neighborhoods. The two eventually performed together instead of against one another, and it was at that moment they realized that they had a lot in common. Positive Black Soul got momentum after their performance at a music festival hosted by the Dakar French Cultural Center. They got noticed by French rapper MC Solaar. The group was asked to open up for him at his show in Dakar and throughout France. The group went on to put out their first album called Boul Fale, and their career took off from there. They received an opportunity to work with Senegalese musician Baaba Maal, which in turn got them a record deal with Mango Records, who Baaba Maal was signed with. The group continued on to gain international acclaim and had the opportunity to work with artists such as American rapper KRS-One, Red Hot organization, Res, Tony Allen, Ray Lema, Baaba Maal, and Archie Shepp.

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