THIS ROCKS. Jeelal, jeelal, jeelal, bu la neexe jeelal! (approx. Take it, take it, take it, when it makes you happy, take it!)
From Awesome Tapes:
“From the forthcoming international release of Aby Ngana Diop’s "Liital” tape on LP/CD/MP3/Limited Edition Cassette on Awesome Tapes From Africa, September 2, 2014.
Aby Ngana Diop was the most famous taasukat in Dakar, Senegal in the 1980s and 1990s. Taasu is a Wolof-language poetic style, usually performed by women griots over frenetic drum patterns, with an aggressive verbal flow thought to presage rap. Her only album Liital was groundbreaking in the history of Senegalese music because it was the first commercial recording to feature a traditional female taasukat performing to the modern accompaniment of mbalax, Senegal’s quintessential pop genre.”
To elaborate further on Awesome Tapes’s description above, here’s a little excerpt from the article “The Rapper as Modern Griot: Reclaiming Ancient Traditions” by mbalax scholar and MIT professor of sabar Patty Tang:
“The Wolof verb taas means ‘to bless’ or ‘to praise.’ A kind of poetry, taasu is almost always declaimed to the rhythmic accompaniment of drums or calabashes or tin bowls. According to Mariama Ndoye Mbengue, ‘Taasu are formulas created by women in a variety of circumstances, often to mock, sometimes to glorify themselves or a third person. They are two or three lines long, [but] in any case, are rarely long…The composer declaims her refrain, then the drum and the dance follow. It is an entertaining genre that takes place during family ceremonies…It serves as a social regulator’ (Ndoye 1982: 28; translated in McNee 1996:67).”
P. Tang goes on to say that there’s a desire to link rap to taasu, but that the connection seems to be an oversimplification; too many other peoples on the continent have strong rhythmic poetic traditions to really be able to trace rap back to taasu in particular. If you’re interested, P. Tang’s article is a chapter in the book Hip Hop Africa: New African Music in a Globalizing World. And don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the rest of Mme Aby Ngana Diop’s tape in Sept!
ps …for the record, not that it really matters, but i indented and added quotations marks to the block quotations just for the sake of clarity!