During my visits to Togo, I’ve come across many good hip hop artists who are all out with their vocal delivery and lyrical content. Though my understanding of French is only half-baked, I still manage to filter the intrinsic art they serve. Mostly, they perform in duos, with one rapper adlibbing as the other drops bars like alcatraz going loose. Then there’s a seamless switch so the other rapper takes his turn. The industry, as it is the situation in Ghana is male-dominated but the ladies find their way into the audience supporting by large.
The first artist I might have come across is Elom 20ce; a wreckless mic-ripper who knows his roots and is ever passionate about going hard with conscious raps to liberate the locks from people’s minds, in his own words about tonight’s event (poster above); “Si t’es à Lomé ce soir ! Il s’annonce une soirée mémorable ! à manger, à boire, à écouter, à danser, à voir, à rire, bref, reste pas chez toi ce soir, et change un peu en venant écouter du HIP HOP qui déchire avec plus de 15 rappeurs de talents sur scène!”
THE DOPEST OF THEM ALL
Elom 20 ce (pronounced Elom Vince) is the torch-bearer for his rhythm folks and goes on tour usually in France especially to express his conscious art seeded with sociopolitically relevant rants. His track “theory of chaos”
is one of the best I’ve heard and it builds momentum using oral storytelling and thick proverbial talk to describe the revolutionary struggle of young people in a lost society.
Other intriguing artists not to be missed are Balles 2 Rimes, Zalem, Kankua, etc who will feature at tonight’s “Microfiles”. I was at the last Microfilles and I never regretted all that rare fun and jam! With live graffiti by Trez on stage as the mic-grippers dropped knowledge, the eyes and ears were filled with colours and borderless word flow!
THE POLITICAL SHIFTS
At the start of the first world war, Togo was seized by the British and France after being colonized by the Germans for long. On February 5, 2005, Eyadéma died of a heart attack after 38 years in power. Shortly afterwards, his son Faure Gnassingbé was named president. Up to 500 people were killed in the political violence surrounding the presidential poll, according to the UN. Around 40,000 Togolese fled to neighbouring countries.This narrow strip of land on Africa’s west coast, has for years been the target of criticism over its human rights record and political governance. Tensions spilled over into deadly violence when the strong-arm, veteran leader died and a succession crisis followed. Political reconciliation remains elusive. Parliamentary elections were held in Togo on 25 July 2013 and they hit the polls for the presidentials in March.
On the streets you hear people charge; “For the sake of peace… Faure Gnassingbé should not stand for re-election in 2015.” Artists engulf this unsettling and disorder from the mainstream politics and everyday life and drop it into the mic and canvasses because the truth needs to be told. As observers and spokespeople that’s their work. Many a conscious rapper in Togo needs to be heard!