Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Bobo Wê is an award-winning rapper and singer from Benin whose love of music started when he learned drumming in church:

Quote Message: I wasn’t very strong because I was very young, but I kept time and people like the way I played. It allowed me to get a good sense of rhythm, cadence. It really formed me.”

I wasn’t very strong because I was very young, but I kept time and people like the way I played. It allowed me to get a good sense of rhythm, cadence. It really formed me.”

Drumming is a direct influence in Bobo Wê’s sound today – he calls his blend of traditional and contemporary music “gangan trap”:

Quote Message: The gangan is a musical instrument here. In English it’s called the talking drum. I use it a lot because it’s my particular style, and it allows me to show to the world what we have that is original – and to value our culture.’

The gangan is a musical instrument here. In English it’s called the talking drum. I use it a lot because it’s my particular style, and it allows me to show to the world what we have that is original – and to value our culture.’

Bobo Wê’s breakthrough hit was La Rue, released in 2020. The song is about gang warfare and how groups of young men in Cotonou challenge each other to fights to prove their strength and influence:

Quote Message: I have experienced this several times. Someone calls me and challenges me to a fight, saying ‘you better get ready’. Sometimes you don’t have time to prepare. You have to run away first. But then you come back in force with your crew.”

I have experienced this several times. Someone calls me and challenges me to a fight, saying ‘you better get ready’. Sometimes you don’t have time to prepare. You have to run away first. But then you come back in force with your crew.”

In other songs Bobo Wê talks about jealousy (Jalousie) which he says is rife in Benin, with people wanting to trip up and bring down those they see succeeding, and injustice (Injustice), especially the gulf between the rich and the poor:

Quote Message: It’s the law of the strongest winning, basically. I want people to see the inequality and rebalance things, because in society this imbalance is accepted, which is bad.”

It’s the law of the strongest winning, basically. I want people to see the inequality and rebalance things, because in society this imbalance is accepted, which is bad.”

You can hear Bobo Wê on This is Africa this Saturday, on BBC World Service radio and partner stations across Africa, as well as online here: BBCworldservice.com/thisisafrica

By Joy

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