We use cookies for site personalization, analytics and advertising. You can opt out of third party cookies. More info in our privacy policy.   Got it

Sarabah – Tales from the Flipside of Paradise

Sister Fa

Hiphop fans make a virtue of telling it how it is. Well, there’s no-one out there who tells it better than Sister Fa. This Dakar rapper, now based in Berlin, has plenty to say, much of it about unpleasant subjects. Not that this stops her. As a campaigner and a rapper, the woman is indefatigable.

Vibrating with a mix of live kora and a well-checked amalgam of studio-produced beats and samples, Sarabah is a clean-cut album. Fa’s rap – in French, Manding, Jola and Wolof (translations provided) – is a smooth affair. A few R ’n’ B elisions permeate tracks such as ‘Selebou Yoon’ (‘Crossroads’), a song which recently appeared on Many Lessons, a compilation album that merges rap, Islam and West Africa. There are marvellous tracks here – the brilliant ‘Milyamba’ with its cascades of kora strings; the sassy ‘Amy Jotna’ (‘Amy, it’s time’). But the real heft comes in Fa’s message. As Sarabah’s subtitle suggests, there is serious stuff here. For Fa, rap has a social responsibility – and she has bravely spoken out against female genital mutilation (citing her own experience), oppressive customs and a cultural conservatism that prevents wider change. This is brave work and, more to the point, it rocks.

*LG*

New Internationalist issue 428 magazine cover This article is from the December 2009 issue of New Internationalist.
You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Subscribe today »

Help us keep this site free for all

Editor Portrait New Internationalist is a lifeline for activists, campaigners and readers who value independent journalism. Please support us with a small recurring donation so we can keep it free to read online.

Support us » payment methods

Subscribe   Ethical Shop