Master Soumy - the rap singer, voice of Mali's young generation, whom corrupt politicians listen to alike.
He is sometimes credited as
Galedou Master SOUMY
If the griots are Mali's praise singers, then the rappers are its critical journalists. While griots make good money with their praise songs about rich businessmen or politicians, rappers still have a hard time living off their music. No sooner than over the past few years did this change. This change was not in the least triggered by various political
crises. Whereas the griots lost some of their authority, ordinary folk, never a subject of praise songs anyway, felt there's a rapport with the rappers.
What started in Senegal in the late 1990s already made headway in Mali only early on in the following decade. In Senegal, in 2000, dozens of rappers spoke out against long-standing president Abdou Diouf, and only recently did the citizens' movement "Y'en a Marre" (I've had it), headed by some of the country's best-known hip-hop
stars, prevent Abdoulaye Wade's corrupt regime from attaining a third term in office. There are similar examples in other West African countries like Burkina Faso or Congo, and hip-hop always comes to bear.
In Mali, Master Soumy is considered a pioneer still of the hip-hop scene. Already in his 2007 album Toukaranké he rapped about
migration, lack of schooling for girls, but as well more general issues, like blackouts and road conditions. The new thing here is that hip-hop for the first time calls those responsible by name, an unusual move until now in highly conservative Mali. More than ever after the crisis following the military coup of 2012, rappers comment on events.
Mind you, over 50 per cent of Mali's population are youths below age 18, and it is they who are most influenced by rap music. Again, when the Islamists started prohibiting music in northern Mali, rappers where the ones to sing against it: Master Soumy contributed the song "Explique ton Islam" (Explain your Islam). In it, the faithful Muslim asks the jehadists what torture and violence would have to do with Islam, to simply explain what their interpretation of Islam is about when it results in the killing of innocents and the prohibition of sports and music.
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