This is a repost of a blog entry I made for Provisions Library on July 13, 2011. This post opened the door for me to connect with the producer, Ben Herson a few weeks later:
Africa Underground: Hip Hop in Senegal is another positive story of youth tapping into hip hop to tell stories about their community and the struggles they face. This short documentary features Senegalese rap group Daara J from Dakar. Their lyrics are in Wolof. When on tour, they wear traditional Senegalese outfits.
I find it fascinating how the young Senegalese rappers have embraced this new form of musical expression into their culture. Take for example, the featured rappers in the film are Muslim. They made a conscious decision to uphold Islamic values by refraining from vulgar language. They also rejected exploiting women’s sexuality.
Another interesting aspect of hip hop culture in Senegal is the artists ability to incorporate Senegal’s strong musical tradition. Traditionally, Senegal had a class of musician called griots, who were historians, entertainers, and musicians. Griots were born into this position based on their family and passed on this tradition from one generation to the next. They were key figures in ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, and parades. Similarly, hip hop artists played a role in electing the current president of Senegal in a democratic election in 2000, the country’s first. Hip hop is at the root of pushing for social change initiatives in the country’s modern music scene.