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  Femi Kuti  

Femi Kuti was born in London in 1962. He quit school in 1978 to play saxophone in his father's band Egypt 80. In 1986, while Fela enjoyed huge popularity which attracted government disapproval, Femi took up the pioneer's afrobeat mantle and formed his own group: Positive Force. Over the next ten years he gradually freed himself of his father's musical influence finally achieving full recognition in his own right in 1994 when he signed with the legendary Motown label.

His eponymous album, which came out in 1995, established Femi to a wider audience on the international scene with a more accessible but equally demanding conception of afrobeat.

After two years, in 1999 Femi brings out a new album on a new label. "Shoki-Shoki" driven by a relatively traditional afrobeat receives public recognition as well as the critical acclaim of his early works.

 

In 2001 "Fight to Win" continues to evolve this development of a democratization and an openness in afrobeat instigated by Femi since his first album. Containing Nigerian jazz-funk rhythms with a touch of hip-hop, Femi collaborated with American rappers such as Mos Def and Common, and soul singer Jaguar Wright, creating an album of universal critical acclaim.

After three years spent between studio work and touring, Femi seemed to want to look elsewhere and returned to the roots of a musical and political movement of which he is, as of now, the unique symbol and only representative. He decided to invest his success in the reconstruction of a new Shrine, a musical temple, erected, displaced and rebuilt by Fela following repeated attacks against the old ones by a corrupt military power. Just as his father before him, Femi and his "Positive Force" continue to make of this place a space in which music is the weapon of the future.

1997 was a tragic year for Femi, as despite his first professional breakthrough in which he achieved international recognition, it was also the year in which he suffered the loss of his father, and within only months, the death of his sister Sola. Tragedies that would inspire one of the most moving songs from the inheritor of "the Tiger": "97".

For this heir to afrobeat it's a turning point. Having achieved recognition on the international scene since the 1990's, Femi could have chosen to live in a western city such as Paris, London or New York, all cities which have taken him to their hearts. But it's in his hometown of Lagos, one of the most explosive cities in the world, conceptualised by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, that this descendent of an illustrious line of Yoruba intellectuals has decided to pursue the fight.


 
DIDIER AWADI
 

Didier Awadi is without a doubt the most prominent figure on the Francophone African rap scene. Winner of the RFI Music Prize in October 2003 and Best African Rap Artist in the TAMANI awards (Music awards in Mali) in December 2004; he can cast his eye back at a faultless career as a pioneer of a music genre which has become, over the last few years, the main genre of music for African youths and the world at large

Didier Awadi was born in Dakar in 1969 into a family of schoolteachers, son of a Beninese father and a Senegalese mother. In 1989 he formed the group Positive Black Soul with Doug E Tee and they produced several albums of impeccable artistic quality, which appeared in Europe and the United States. In 2002 he released his first solo album “Kaddu Gor” (“Word of Honour”), followed by “Un autre monde est possible” (“Another world is possible”) released in 2005. He is both an artist and an entrepreneur (He is an artistic producer, radio and television presenter, runs a studio, record label as well as various musical organisations). He puts his musical talent and technological knowledge to the service of a music that is always conscientious, a music with roots and messages, through which he addresses the world, because he has things to say. His latest album “Présidents de l’Afrique” (Presidents of Africa) was released to great acclaim in 2007.


   
BIG D
 

Born on 11 November 1974 in Kaolack, Senegal, Armand Alexandre Angrand Damas, alias Big D, is a long-time follower of rap music. With his imposing present he is a hard person to ignore. Known as one of the largest yet also gentlest people on the Senegalese rap scene, he was one of the first artists to bring out a rap album in Senegal. In 1998, with his group “Fatyu” he brought out the memorable album “Stop les agresseurs”. This was followed by the release of three solo albums “Jackpot” (2000), “XXL” (2002) and “Jamm: la Paix” (2004). In 2007 his latest album “Amine” hit the stands; its diversity further proof of his musical talent.

 


BOBBY  

Known as the calming force of Togolese Hip Hop, Bobby comes from a small town near the Ghanian/Togolese border. He was first interested by reggae music but quickly grew to enjoy ragga rhythms and hip hop. Founding the group WORLD REALITY at the start of the 1990s, Bobby became one of the pioneers of Togolese Hip Hop. Supported by RFI in particular, the group became successful. Following the strikes in Togo in 1993, the group gained new members and took on a new dimension thanks to Bobby’s hard work and determination. En 1996 the group DJANTA KAN was born; nicknamed the Four Lions of Togo, the first group to regularly represent Togo at international festivals. Renowned for the quality of their songs and lyrics, Djanta Kan has created its own sound, a blend of African folk music and rap. They are currently recording in France and will be taking Europe by a storm as they complete a European tour in March 2008.



   
EGALITARIAN  

Egalitarian, or Momadou Lamin Bah, was born in Brikama in Western Gambia in 1981. The son of a classically trained violinist, Egalitarian began singing and performing at the age of 14. Forming his first band “D Tribunal” in 1997, he left it a year later to pursue his solo career. In 2004 he released his debut album "Fellow Sufferah" which was very well received. His latest album is entitled “Indigent World” and features several famous West African artists such as Gaston from Senegal. The album draws on themes of love, unity and peace.



JO DAMA  

Adama Mamadou Diaara (Jo Dama) a former Masters students at the socio-anthropological University in Bamako. He was one of the founding members of the popular Malian rap group “Tattapound”. “Tattapound” was created in 1995 following its winning success in a rap competition. It is made up of Jo Dama, Ramses (Sidy Soumaoro) and Dixon (Mahamadou Dicko).

The three rappers have been friends since childhood having grown up in the same neighbourhood (Badalabougou Sema in Bamako). They share the same passion for rap and the same sources of inspiration: the street, scientific and historical writings and reggae and rap music. Amongst their favourite artists are Barrington Levy, Bob Matley, IAM, Tupax, Salif Keita and Public Enemy. Their three albums, “Cikan: The Message”, ”Ni Allah Sonama” and “Rien ne va plus” have given it a reputation as a worthy contender on the international stage.



KEYTI  

Keyti, or Cheikh Sène, was one of the first hardcore rappers in Senegal and was one of the founding members of the hardcore group “Rap’Adio”. They recorded their first album “Ku Weet Xam Sa Bopp” in 1998 and in 2001 they brought out “Soldaaru Mbed” (Street soldiers), denouncing the evils of Senegalese society with a hardhitting moralising voice.

Keyti decided to go solo in 2002 and the following year he brought out his first solo album “Ci Kaw ci Kanam” (“On Top in the Future”). In this eight track album, Keyti continues to denounce the youth problems, political power and money. He is committed to using his music to bring about change in the world.



MIRIAM  

Myriam was one of the founding members of ALIF (Attaque Libératoire de l’Infanterie Féministe) (Women’s Infantry Liberation Army), a band created by three hip hop dancers in 1997 in Dakar. ALIF was the first all female rap group in Senegal. They recorded their first album “Viktim” in 1999. In 2004 Alif recorded "Dakanérap"; in which the trio of rappers (Myriam Diallo, Oumy Ndiaye and Ndiaya Guèye, fight for women’s rights. They tackle issues such as polygamy and forced marriage; singing in French, English and Wolof. They have been well received in both Africa and Europe.



MOUNA  

A Senegalese artist of Beninese extraction, Mouna was born in Benin on 10 October 1984. Tongue in cheek she calls herself DCH (Dangerous Cool and Hot) : “it’s just an expression that reflects my personality”. She grew up in Cotonou where she completed her studies; after obtaining her baccalaureat she moved to Senegal. She has travelled extensively in West Africa, having visited Ghana, Burkina, Niger and Nigeria. This travel experience has helped her to develop relationships with a variety of diverse communities.

Her father, a music connoisseur, used to invite the great names of the African music scene to the house and Mouna grew up rubbing shoulders with stars such as Angélique Kidjo, Kassav, Nayanka Bell, Aicha Koné and many more. The range of artists she met helped her to develop her passion for music.

 


MOUSSA  

Moussa Camara represents the Guinean wing of AURA. He is one of the members of the group Degg J Force 3. The band was created in 1997 in the district of Boulbinet, a fishing district in the Kaloum region in Conarky. Moussa, Skandal and Mouzis together form arguably the best Guinean urban music group since Killpoint.

In a continual search for perfection, these young talents draw their inspiration from the African continent and seek to increase awareness on themes that they tackle in their albums. Knowing that in life there are “Ups and Downs” (the name of their first album “Des Hauts et des Bas”) they do not hesitate to give a “heartfelt cry” (their second album:“Cri du Coeur”) as they commit themselves body and soul to fighting to improve the conditions of young Africans.

 



PHENO-B  

 

 

Born in Dosso in Niger on 23 December 1972; Pheno B is known as the “Taximan Rapper”. In 1993, as he was driving his taxi through the streets of Niamey, Pheno literally fell in love with the rap music that he heard on the radio every day. In 1999 he created the band KAIDAN GASKIA. Kaidan Gaskia means “Act truthfully”; in other words: “Respect the truth”.

Between 2001 and 2005 four opuses came out of Niger; thanks to the support and collaboration of Didier Awadi. Given the complete lack of interest shown in the youth population of Niger by those in power; the group decided to emigrate to the United States. However Pheno B stayed behind; believing that anything was possible in Niger if one gave oneself the means to achieve.

Thanks to his production studio, the studio KOUNTCHE Productions, Pheno continued to work as a producer, up until he met Safia. In 2006 Kaidan Gaskia was reformed with Safia and in 2007 they released their latest album: “Dieu est grand”.


PRISS'K  

Born in 1985 in Ivory Coast and attracted to music from a young age, Priss K was once the youngest face of Hip Hop and she is considered today to be the Queen of Ivoirian rap. Priss’K (pronounce Prisca) is the number female Ivoirian rapper. In 1996, when she was only 11 years old, she joined with her older brother Isaac to form a group called: “6 TEM d’Alarme” in Abidjan. In 1997 the group brought out its first album: “SUPERSTAR”, followed in 2000 with the second opus “LA MARAINE” in which Priss K covers Alpha Blondy’s “Rasta Poué”. In October of the same year she performed a duet with the famous star at Paris’ Bercy stadium. She also appeared on the albums of Neth Soul and Faday Dey, two great reggae legends in Ivory Coast in the song: “Prend ma main” (“Take my hand”) singing for national reconciliation.



SAFIA  

Safia was born in Khartoum (Sudan) on 15 April 1982. She spent part of her childhood in Saudi Arabia before moving to Niamey with her family. In 2002, whilst completing higher education in Morocco, she joined a professional Moroccan music band with whom she remained until 2004. It was during this time that she learned to master playing solo guitar. She also was involved with the polyphonic choir of Rabat for one year.

She has been a member of Kaidan Gaskia since 2006, the group that re-formed around Pheno B following the departure of its former members to the United States. She also continues to pursue a solo career thanks to the support of the Kountche studio in Niamey.



SMARTY  

Smarty aka Kiekieta Louis Salif is a member of the burkinabé group « Yeleen » ; one of the most well known rap groups from Burkina. Created by Smarty and a Chadian, Célestin Mawndoe, they are known for their commitment to social issues, a commitment reflected by their song lyrics. They tackle problems such as AIDS, drugs, (neo)colonialism, and the situation of Africa’s marginalised youth. Yeleen’s melodic tunes blend together African and European elements. Having released three successful albums in Africa, Yeleen took the plunge in 2007, when, following a tour of European musical festivalsm they released their first releasing their first international album: “Juste un peu de lumiere”.



SMOCKEY  

Smockey is undoubtedly one of the most important icons of Burkinabe rap. Born in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) on 24 October 1971 to a Burkinabe father and a French mother, Serge BAMBARA alias Smockey comes from Bissa in south east Burkina.

In 1991 he left Burkina to study in France where he gained experience working in a recording studio with his Cameroonian friend Koto. It was there that his passion for rap music was unleashed. In 1999 he signed with EMI and released his first feature single with the famous French singer Laam. It was at this point that he took on the pseudonym of Smockey (“se moquer” is the French word for “make fun”).

In March 2001 Smockey returned to Burkina with the intention of setting up a recording studio specialised in rap in order to promote this genre of music and to make it one of the emblems of Burkinabe culture. In September 2001 in his studio called ABAZON, he created and produced his first album entitled “Epitaph”. Two years later he completed his second album: “Zamana” which means “people” in Bissa, his mother tongue.



   
   
WARABA  

Alioun Fall Brahim, or Waraba (which means ‘lion’ in bambara), is one of the most talented Mauritanian rappers of his time. He has an unparalleled freestyle technique and raps in wolof to hiphop, dancehall or even reggae tunes. He first started rapping at the age of 12 under the pseudonym “Big Power” and he has not looked back. In 2001 he met a young composer, Tom Select they decided to work together. Winner of the Forums of the French Cultural Centre (CCF) in 2002, this enabled him to record his first song: “Toh Allah”. In 2006 he brought out his first album entitled “Yomboul”; released in both Africa and Europe and received to great acclaim in Mauritania.



XUMAN

 

Xuman aka Makhtar Fall has been making a name for himself since he arrived on the music scene in the 1990s with his rap group Pee Froiss. Xuman was born in Ivory Coast and grew up in Senegal. He wrote his first songs growing up in the district of Fass in Dakar and was greatly influenced by the members of “Positive Black Soul” whom he met there. His group focuses on hip hop beats and committed lyrics. The group has played a number of festivals over the years both in Africa and in Europe. A particularly fervent fan of Bob Marley, Xuman can be found in concert on 11 May ever year, playing sets to commemorate the birth of the reggae legend. In 2001 Pee Froiss released its international album: “Gunman” which deals with the problems faced by young Africans and young Senegalese in particular.

 

 

 


 


 

 

 

Kojo Antwi


blends West African music and Afro-American rhythm and blues. Over two decades, the Ghanaian musician has gone from bubbly vocalist through introspective songwriter and lead singer to consummate musician, arranger, producer and enigmatic performer.

 

 

 
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