Some notable Gambian musical bands playing or have played in the country
over the past 10 years are Da Fugitivz, Pencha B, DJ Easyboy, Energy Soundz (Dj
Rolexx), Chess, Alassan Sillah a.k.a Dollar
Dripper, Ebony Diamond, Modou Lamin Bah (Egalitarian Mentor), Maslaa
Bi, Smokey aka Smoke Doctor, Hood Hustlers aka Double H, and the Dancehall Masters to name but a few.
Many of Gambia's rap
artists are young high school leavers, who have found an alternative
to unemployment, a problem slowly gripping this largely tourist
leaning economy. Some are still going to school though while finding
the time to be part of the music scene.
But unlike their colleagues in industrial societies in Europe and
America, Gambian rap artists are yet to face the menace of drug abuse
and gun-totting gangsters. As opposed to many of their American
counterparts, their lyrics are conscious and educational carrying with
them resounding messages calling for peace, faith and love with the
absence of sexually related scenes or showing any inclination for
violence. They talk about poverty, baby dumping, corruption,
prostitution and finally praise God the Almighty.
"We diagnose society, analyse the problem and give possible solutions.
We are doctors in music robes," says Inspector Chow Panache an
accomplished Gambian artist whose lyrics are well appreciated in
At the turn of the century, there were over 40 rap groups in the
Gambia of which only 4 had the opportunity to produce albums. The rest
already have enough lyrics to compose albums but do not have the
necessary cash to finance the basic stages of mixing and recording,
which, in local Gambian studios could go up to US $6,000. As a
temporary measure however, rap groups with shaky financial situations
have resorted to producing audio singles and video clips
simultaneously raising funds before heading for the studios.
At least, Gambians can now express a sigh of relief that after years
of inactivity, life is now being injected to the music scene resulting
in the frequent composition of lyrics that could be exhibited at any
The recent invitation of Da Fugitivz to perform at the international
music festival in Germany adds colour to this assertion. The momentum
if kept, could soon transform this "roots" fame country into a
dazzling centre of music studies.
In the meantime, the skies are the limit.
Kololi is a small new settlement in the western part of the Gambia
with a noted element of cultural diversity in addition to it being
host to Black Nature, a neighbourhood musical gem whose artistic
prowess and explosive lyrics is generally appreciated, if not envied
by many young Gambians.
As the first rap group to release an album, Black Nature is the flag
bearer of rap in the Gambia. But all these shining points were nearly
overlooked, when one of the group's most adored vocalists, Mystic MC
suddenly left the Gambia for Denmark. His departure fuelled rumours in
the Gambia that the group was bound to disintegrate.
When the first national television signals zoomed the airwaves in the
Gambia in 1995, many pundits viewed this development as yet another
white elephant project poised for the slammer. But little did they
realise that this precious national asset - Gambia Radio & Television
Service - would soon be the repository of entertainment and benchmark
of Gambia's music promotion.
On July 30th 1999, 'Rap Award '99' was
officially launched at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, an event set aside to
"acknowledge contributions to the Gambia's burgeoning music industry
by fledgling Gambian artists in the rap, reggae and hip hop genres".
The programme, which trailed into the wee hours of the morning, was a
major success characterised by an impressive show of artistic
The packed hall-cum-music theatre, caught in the throb of a hotchpotch
rap, hip-hop and descant Senegambian rhythm, cheered up as the
nominees, mainly young artists with releases, individually appeared to
perform on stage. With the exception of a 30 minute interruption, in
which some ferrous fans in appreciation of the irresistible
performance of Lion Heart, lit smoke lighters to the posh of the hall,
the event however, was itself an appropriate soiree of relaxation, but
above all a fitting indication of the rich flavour embedded in Gambian
After an elaborate performance, the popular television maestro, Lamin
Manga, announced the nominees duly submitted by a panel of carefully
Many are now based
overseas such as in Sweden and Denmark in order to get wider
By Abou Jeng