Accepted Paper:

has pdf download "Mbedd baa ngi ni!" (here's the street): the representation of urban spaces among young Senegalese rappers  


Cristiano Lanzano (The Nordic Africa Institute (Uppsala, Sweden))

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the success of rap in Dakar (Senegal) and its role in shaping new identities partially based on the reappropriation of urban territory and the rivalries between city areas.

Paper long abstract:

Rap has emerged in Dakar (Senegal) in the late 80s as an expression of urban middle class youth, more oriented towards foreign cultural products and with a larger access to imported media; during the following years, though, it has become widespread, gaining support among a whole generation. Belonging to a certain city area, more or less privileged, more or less marginal, has become for young rappers in Dakar an important source of legitimacy, fostering rivalries based on urban territorial disputes which can also mirror differences in style and class, and at the same time allowing the rap community members to debate political and social issues. Furthermore, "the city" is in constant confrontation with "the world" (the international hip hop community, and especially the blackness of African American youth), while geographical cleavages overlap with generational and gender data, making the creation of a new male youth identity in post-colonial Senegal even more complex.

This paper will offer some results from a Ph.D. research among young and beginner rap artists in Dakar; it will also present some visual material (music clips, filmed interviews) showing the special link young artists have with the urban space.

Panel W115
Urban marginalization and popular culture