BY MSIA KIBONA CLARK, 17 AUGUST 2007
After HipHop came to Africa in the 1980s and went from being a fad to an African youth movement, communities emerged in a number of countries to dominate the continent’s HipHop scene. Among the leaders of this movement are Senegalese artists, who are not only among the best and most political in Africa, but also the most respected in francophone Africa.
The first generation of African youth to make a collective impact on the fabric of politics and society in modern Africa comprised the visionaries who brought its nations to independence. Some took a revolutionary direction and as a result some African states have legacies of radicalism and political action. Senegal was not one of those states. But now, through the art form of HipHop, the youth in Senegal are rising up as some of the most socially provocative artists in Africa.
Senegal’s HipHop scene is distinctive and its artists extremely talented. The country has a history of strong musical traditions, including tassou, which is similar to rapping. Senegalese rap artists today often blend local sounds and, realizing they will have more of an impact rapping in a local language, they rap either entirely in Wolof or a in blend of French and Wolof. Examples of such artists are Daara J, Pee Froiss, and Positive Black Soul (whose music was featured in season one of the American HBO television show, The Wire).
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The country’s first all-female rap group. ALIF, or Attaque Liberatoire de l’Infanterie Feministe, hit the scene in 1997.
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