By Hunter Skidmore
The song I chose to represent the coextensive moment between music and politics in Africa is “Fulani Rock”, by Baaba Maal. I chose this song because Baaba Maal is one of the most forefront musicians in Africa and I feel like this song reflects the intermingling of themes. Baaba Maal is a Senegalese singer from West Africa and has produced over twenty albums in his career, generating fame across Africa and Europe. “Fulani Rock” is a song from his most recent album, “The Traveller”.
Musically, “Fulani Rock” mixes traditional West African musical elements, such as looped voices, steel guitars, and djembe drums. This is fused with pop elements of Western music to create crossfire between the two compounding musical styles. The use of both of these styles allows the music’s beat to be consistent and strong. It also includes call-and-response vocals, which is often seen in African music.
The lyrics and inspiration behind the song come from the political climate of Senegal. Although Senegal has been one of the most successful democracies in West Africa, the past few years have seen ethnic tension and controversy between the Senegalese government and its people. This tension is what Baaba Maal discretely addresses in the song, “Fulani Rock”. Baaba Maal has long been a musician who expresses a political perspective in his music and, much like Sams’k Le Jah, believes in the power of music to create positive change in Senegal. The intermingling between traditional and pop music styles reflects the positive intermingling music has with politics, in hopes that this music will spur positive interaction between the citizens and the government of Senegal, creating a uniting force for peace.
This song inspired me to create a digital photo collage with a picture of Baaba Maal in the center as well as many other artists from the class playlist. They are overlaid on the map of Africa as a digital representation of the influence these musicians have over the continent of Africa and the influence Africa has on these musicians.