Senegal's Journal Rappé: where French hip-hop gives you news you can use

Wonderful content from our pals at Atlas of the Future - bringing us a fusion of French-spoken hip-hop and current affairs discussion, Journal Rappe, which is intervening in the febrile world of Senegal politics. An excerpt:

It’s a simple idea, skilfully executed: take important news stories, put them to a beat, and throw on an ironic suit and tie. Rappers and activists Makhtar ‘Xuman’ (pronounced human) Fall and Cheikh ‘Keyti’ Sene have been making hip-hop for 20 years, but now their music brings current affairs to audiences in Senegal and beyond. (See the first episode above).

Inspired by a heady combination of musical legends and political activists like Public Enemy, Bob Marley, Nelson and Winnie Mandela, Cheikh Anta Diop and Malcolm X, Journal Rappé’s goal is to “bridge the gap between young people (particularly those of hip-hop) and the news, to keep them interested and engaged with politics”.

They’re here to “push the limits, redefine the norm, combine worlds”: to turn news reporting into something different; to be “journartists”. Rapping in French and Wolof (Senegal’s dominant local language), they bring humour and directness to the country’s most pressing matters – creating videos that have been viewed over 22 million times.

The idea came to rapper Xuman in 2012 following Senegal’s presidential election. The sitting president Abdoulaye Wade had been ousted democratically, after months of demonstrations, arrests and deaths – and Xuman wanted to build on this long-awaited wave of positivity.

“Journal Rappé was created to keep the momentum of such civic engagement which had transformed into a surge of hope among the people”. He and Keyti had been supporters and allies of the Y’en a Marre (‘Fed Up’) collective, who had been protesting against weak leadership in Senegal and getting young people voting since 2011. Being established hip-hop artists, rapping about politics was a natural next step.

More from the article here. Journal Rappe conclude with this point:

Journal Rappé is about much more than just making the news fun. It’s about building a collective future where big questions keep being asked about how we make democracy real. “Culture carries the DNA of the future. It tells us about ourselves and our past, but it also allows us to get ready and (re)shape the future. We would say that in constructing our future every artist is a brick and our collective creativity is the cement that holds us together. Culture and creativity give us the courage to question the world, unlearn, invent and reinvent what’s to come in the hope that it will be better for us all.

“These last two or three decades have not only proven that democracy is at risk in many countries around the world, but that even in countries with a long democratic tradition it needs to be renewed to take into account new demands of the people in general or of specific groups. To achieve new models of democracy will therefore require inclusiveness and creativity. The world will have to think out of the box.”

And here's what a political panel discussion looks like for Journal Rappe: