The news in rap lyrics: Le Journal Rappé is a five minutes long, weekly rapped newsflash on Senegalese television. The anchormen are ‘old-school’ rappers Cheikh ‘Keyti’ Sene and Makhtar ‘Xuman’ Fall. It’s partly French spoken, partly Wolof, the native language of Senegal.
By Sinette Hesselink

In the 1980’s, hip-hop emerged from Senegal’s impoverished suburbs, the ‘banlieux’, as not only a source of entertainment influenced by the American rap scene, but also as a stick to hit the political and socio-economic repression under the regime of former President Abdou Diof.

In October 2013, Cheikh Sene and Makhtar Fall taped a pilot. TV stations passed. Sponsors seemed confused and didn’t understand the new news format. So they put it on YouTube, where it went ‘viral’. Within hours, a TV producer called. ‘And that’s the magic of the Internet,’ Sene states.

In June, an American professor of rap studies stopped by Mr. Fall’s home studio to discuss the creation of a YouTube channel for the untold number of people who prefer to receive their African news solely in rap format. Those people include Fara Keita, 31, who catches every episode in his tiny room. So does his 65-year-old mother, it’s the only show she watches.

Well researched items

Le Journal Rappé is not aiming to feature breaking news, but tries to present well researched news items, mixed with coloured commentary and humour. The rappers address what really matters: the news that directly influences the Senegalese on a daily basis. An entertaining yet educational tool meant to reveal and mobilize the hidden potential in Senegal.

The news spread fast: Africa has its own news beats now. Rwandan DJ Eric Kirenga is working on a rap newscast pilot. So is a rapper from Benin and a rap crew in Ivory Coast called Azziza.

Sinette Hesselink is a designer and trend forecaster based in Amsterdam

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