“Not everyone is lucky enough to have a microphone in front of them, so if you have the chance to talk, you have to say something important”
Music and activism have strong connections and Serge Martin Bambara — aka "Smockey", meaning “se moquer”, or “to mock” – is the one of the most exciting performers merging the two today.
13th April marked the day Smockey became the inaugural Music in Exile fellow at the annual Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards at the Unicorn Theatre in London, with a live performance of his popular tracks. The award was presented by Martyn Ware, founder member of the Human League and Heaven 17.
The hip-hop artist may be little known outside his home country, but he has had an impressive impact on political and social development in Burkina Faso, both through his music and campaigning. He has also suffered the destruction of his recording studio, the acclaimed Studio Abazon, which was firebombed during the attempted coup in September 2015. Soldiers fired two anti-tank rockets into the building, according to reports.
Smockey combines rap with traditional Burkinabé music and humour to “spread truth”. “Knowledge is important, and I write as a way of presenting it to the people,” he told Index on Censorship.
“Musicians often put their heads above the parapet to speak about issues that governments would rather ignore,” said Jodie Ginsberg, CEO of Index on Censorship. “Smockey has used his music to expose endemic corruption and fight for democracy. We are delighted to have him as the inaugural Music in Exile fellow.”
The crowd-funded Music in Exile fellowship was launched in partnership with the team behind the new award-winning documentary covering threats to music in Mali, They Will Have To Kill Us First. The fellowship recognises musicians who perform despite enormous threats to their freedom.
"We are so proud that Smockey has been announced as the first winner of the Music in Exile Fellowship. We started the Music in Exile Fund with Index on Censorship in order to empower other musicians who wanted their voices heard against oppression. The fund was possible due to the support of the audiences internationally who have donated generously after watching They Will Have To Kill Us First. We look forward to seeing Smockey grow further as an artist thanks to the support and guidance of the fellowship," said Sarah Mosses, producer of the film.
Smockey first became interested in hip-hop music after listening to American artists like Public Enemy, Afrika Bambaataa and LL Cool J. He began rapping in Burkina Faso in 1988, before moving to France in 1991 to study. While there, he signed to the record label EMI, but it wasn’t until he returned to his country of birth on a holiday in 1999 that his music took on the political dimension it is famed for today.
“It was around the time of the murder of journalist Norbert Zongo, who was assassinated following investigations into the activist by president Blaise Compaoré,” he said. “Student demonstrators were being beaten by police. It was very disturbing to me.”
Smockey soon packed up his computer and keyboard in France and moved back home to Burkina Faso in 2001. “Seeing the things going on in my country, I had to do something,” he said. “At the time, I didn’t know exactly what, but I knew it would involve music.”
“Not everyone is lucky enough to have a microphone in front of them, so if you have the chance to talk, you have to say something important,” Smockey said. This is the thinking behind subversive songs like Votez Pour Moi (about democracy), Tomber la Lame (FGM) and A Qui Profite le Crime (government corruption).
In the summer of 2013, Smockey co-founded Le Balai Citoyen (The Citizen Broom) with reggae artist Sams’K Le Jah. The grass-roots movement was set up in opposition to then president Blaise Compaoré. Le Balai Citoyen played a big part in the ousting of Compaoré. It urged the people of Burkina Faso to organise and take to the streets. Following mass demonstrations in late 2014, Compaoré resigned on 31 October after 27 years in power. A transition government, led by the military, was established. However, a military coup saw General Gilbert Diendéré — leader of the Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP), Compaoré’s former secret service — seized power in September 2015.
The Music in Exile Fund is a joint project launched by Index on Censorship and the producers of the award-winning They Will Have To Kill Us First, a documentary about musicians in Mali where music was banned.
The Music in Exile Fund will contribute towards Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship, which is a year-long structured assistance programme to support those facing censorship. The money raised will be used to support at least one musician or group per year, beginning with Smockey.
As the Music in Exile fellow, Smockey will receive training and opportunities to connect with other free speech heroes around the world. Index supports these activists with training on digital activism and other tools to stand up to the pressure of censorship and continue their battle for free expression around the world.
The Index Freedom of Expression Awards recognise those individuals and groups making the greatest impact in tackling censorship worldwide. Established 16 years ago, the awards shine a light on work being undertaken in defence of free expression globally. All too often these stories go unnoticed or are ignored by the mainstream press.
Emerging young Croydon (UK) star Raye has released the first track from her upcoming EP, ‘Distraction’.
Recently signed to Polydor Records, the upcoming hip hop flavoured, street EP gives a full flavour of Raye’s musical influences.
‘South London, I’m a South London girl’, Raye declares at the opening of this hauntingly soulful r’n’b track. Written by Raye with Fred Gibson, the song builds to an infectious chorus that more than hints at the great things to come from this very special artist.
She may only be 18 years old, but as a songwriter and collaborator Raye has already been making huge waves, working with the likes of Labrinth, Stormzy, Emeli Sande, Charli XCX, Illangelo, Wretch 32, Jimmy Napes, Two Inch Punch, MNEK and Alex Da Kid. This alongside co-writing Blonde’s recent Top 5 smash ‘All Cried Out’. A South London girl with big international prospects, Raye wants to “take over the world if I can. I’m young and I’ve been given a crazy opportunity and so I don’t see why not, if I work hard enough. I just want to give everything to my music, so it can stand next to the people I love, the music that inspires me every day.”
Raye uploaded her first EP, Welcome to the Winter, to Soundcloud last year, a brooding mix of deep electronica and Jazz Café attitude, all tightly bound to her clear eye for a gleaming pop hook, with the mid-paced kiss-off ‘Bet U Wish’ gaining 1.5million listens.
Raye has youth, talent, a cavalcade of amazing influences, peer group support and a dextrous songwriting talent on her side.
“As you’re developing as an artist”, she says, “you have to think what mark do I want to make? What story do I want to tell? What audience do I want to reach?” For Raye, there is only one answer to these issues. “I know that music for me is all about empowerment.”
N.B. This article is in Finnish, for non-speakers please use the google translator which is on the right of your screen, here you can translate this article into over 80 languages
Vastikään debyyttisinglensä Huomioo ja lovee julkaissut Ezmi haluaa huomioida myös kanssaihmisiä tarjoamalla piristystä sunnuntaihin Helsingin keskustassa. Ezmiin voit törmätä kello yhdestä eteenpäin sunnuntaina jakamassa sata kappaletta Lushin tuotteita sisältäviä pusseja ihmisille yhdessä tubettaja Tuure Boeliuksen kanssa.
Huomioo ja lovee –tempauksessa kysytään ihmisiltä haluavatko he antaa läheiselleen huomioo vai lovee. Vastauksen perusteella he saavat tuotteen, jonka voivat viedä sitten eteenpäin omalle läheiselleen. Käsintehtyä kosmetiikkaa valmistava Lush tarjoaa tuotteet Huomioo ja lovee –aiheisiin kasseihin, joista löytyy myös vaatemerkki Sokan alennuskuponki.
Tempaus on saanut innoituksensa Ezmin debyyttisinkusta. Huomioo ja lovee –kappale on painokas muistutus siitä että jokainen tarvitsee huomioo ja lovee, eikä kannata tuhlata aikaansa ihmisiin, joilta sitä ei saa.
”Mietin, et miten voisin tuoda biisiä ja biisin sanomaa esiin, niin keksin tämmösen Huomioo & Lovee- tempauksen, jossa ihmisille annetaan mahdollisuus huomioida rakkaimpiaan tai ympärillä olevia ihmisiä. On tärkeää huomioida säännöllisesti niitä ihmisiä joita rakastaa ja tää idea tuntui vaan hauskalta tavalta tehdä se. Tuure, Lush ja Sokka lähtivät innoissaan tempaukseen mukaan! Pienillä asioilla ja eleillä voi tuoda ripauksen positiivisuutta ja iloa ympärillä olevien ihmisten elämään ja uskon että positiivisuus lisää positiivisuutta”, kertoo Ezmi.
Tempauksessa on mukana myös suosittu tubettaja Tuure, jonka Youtube-kanavalla on yli 37 tuhatta tilaajaa:
”Ezmi kysy lähdenkö mukaan tekemään videoo ja mä olin heti messissä, koska tykkään tehdä erilaista ja uutta sisältöä mun Youtube-kanavalle. Toivon myös, että tuleva video muistuttaa ihmisiä siitä, että rakkaille pitää jakaa huomioo ja lovee!”
Huomioo ja lovee –tempaus Helsingin keskustassa sunnuntaina 13.3. kello 13:00 alkaen. Tapahtumaa voi seurata myös Sony Musicin Snapchatissa: Sonymusicfin
Huomioo ja lovee YouTube: http://bit.ly/HuomiooJaLoveeLyric
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