Poetry on Buses
In Senegal two prominent rap artists, Xuman and Keyti, rap the news in French, Wolof (Senegal’s dominant local language), and English. The media effort has been occurring since 2013. Their YouTube series, known as JT Rappé, is viewed by approximately 45,000 viewers every week online.
The two rappers have a strnopg reputation throughout Seneagal as talented musicians, and as social activists brave enough to act out their anti-conformist ideals.
The JT Rappé episode begins with a greeting by Xuman, who clears his throat and piles his notes prior to rapping in French the standard JT introduction: “Welcome, get settled in, we have some news for you. Some good, some bad, but some news for you … Following this, a close to ten minute news bulletin emerges, including a range of local, regional, and international stories. This all happens in a highly eloquent and fluid rapping genre. The package requires immense skill, versatility, and imagination, striving to deliver news that is relevant and thought-provoking, that challenges, questions, and stimulates debate.
While containing elements of formality typical of news presenters, Xuman and Keyti deliver reports with theatrical antics, humor, and satire, creating a very professional, enjoyable, and entertaining cultural project.
Beneath the beats and art lie deep substance, pioneering new genres within which a spectrum of audiences can engage with sociopolitical discourses. A lesson for all emerging genres indeed.
The news program has extended past youth populations, and has become an internationally successful cultural project.