Since 2013 the Senegalese news show «Journal Rappé» merges rap with daily news. The concept of the two hip hop pioneers Keyti and Xuman is innovative and creative, as our authors think. The means of parody has thereby become a crucial piece: powerful aesthetics whereby the artist goes even further into the derision of national polictics. A commentary from the Norient book Seismographic Sounds (see and order here).
In Senegal, hip hop is a sentinel for the social and political interests of the people. It does so via committed activism, the actions of its participants on the ground, and what it does best: the music and its messages. From «Fass», a popular area in Dakar, Xuman is one of the pioneers of this movement, a key player for over twenty years, and quite popular among Senegalese youth. His success comes from his dedicated activism, his eloquence in denouncing a perverted system, his brilliant capacity to describe the society, and his distinctive way of doing it all with humor, subtlety and fine details of his own.
Appropriating the Political Debate
With such an explosive cocktail, the hip hop star initiated the «Journal Rappé» (JTR) in April 2013, with another hip hop pioneer Keyti. JTR is an innovative and creative concept in which the two artists produce a show that covers a selection of national and international news. Born on YouTube with no sponsors, and before being aired on the second TV channel in Senegal (2STV), the JTR has gained the support of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and has been launched in the Ivory Coast in 2015. Institutional politics in Senegal generally don’t aim at laying the ground for an informed political debate; rather, they are more preoccupied with and focused on partisan interests. As such, the JTR uniquely fills in a considerable gap between the official politics and a great part of the population by providing a fun and alternative political reflection. Appropriating the political debate and informing the broader population through distinctive critical lenses, it renders public debates accessible, especially to the youth (in Senegal and abroad) that are huge hip hop lovers.
The Derision of National Politics
Xuman’s parodies have become crucial pieces of the JTR: powerful aesthetics whereby the artist goes even further into the derision of national politics. This episode is about Karim Wade, the former President Ablaye Wade’s son who, appointed «super minister» by his «powerful» father, was recently sentenced to six years in prison for wrongfully acquired properties. Xuman couldn’t have chosen a more powerful song than the one of Stromae to tell the story of a «fallen prince», to whom the father dreamt and literally planned to offer the country on a silver platter. It was unthinkable for son and father that one day the people could hold him accountable. His astonishment, his unconsciousness, and his arrogance, are wonderfully staged in this parody, a parody that is just formidable!
This text was published first in the second Norient book Seismographic Sounds.