“For me, rap is an artistic discourse about

Abroad, at an airport, on an airplane or locked in a studio in the suburbs of Conakry, you never really know where Djanii Alfa is. It took dozens of messages, several phone calls and a missed date to succeed. Djanii Alfa ends up in a shopping mall in Guinea’s capital, a few turns from the Bambeto roundabout, a protest block under Alpha Condé, and a stone ‘s throw from the FNDC, a civil society organization that led the revolt against the former president and his third term. The scene is complete. It is the rapper who has chosen the place, a lounge bar where there is no customer in the early afternoon. The room is immersed in semi-darkness.

That same night, “sicario” – one of his nicknames – must go on stage in Conakry for the first date on his new tour, Peace TourAct 1, which after Guinea takes him to Dakar on May 28. Gambia from 4 to 5 June and in France in July. Djanii Alfa will present his fifth and latest album, Chef Rebel. He has already been dubbed by the public in his country. It was January 22 at the General Lansana-Conté Stadium: “Officially, we sold almost 70,000 tickets.”

This river record with 22 titles, he prepared it in exile, in Congo-Brazzaville where he has lived since the beginning of 2020. “The threats were clear. The authorities had also warned me: ‘Do not come, if you come, you will be arrested. ‘”Djanii Alfa ends his sentence with a laugh, as if to tone down the drama. He returned home on September 18, 2021, a few days after the coup. His fans are in chaos. He is welcomed like a hero, crossing the city perched on a double-decker bus.

“I was called to the gendarmerie that evening. I was told that the Covid measures did not allow gatherings,” the artist says scornfully. But in January, for his dedication concert, at the largest stadium in Conakry, barrier gestures are just a distant memory, the audience is compact. In fusion when Djanii Alfa goes on stage, followed by several dancers. Black balaclavas on their heads, they walk around the rapper. “It was a nod to the CNRD (National Rally Committee for Development, the military junta behind the coup in September 2021, editor’s note). It was my way of reminding Mamadi Doumbouya (transition president, army colonel, editor’s note) that for the first time we saw him on TV it was this march he did, for the parade of the independence party 2018. I wanted to remind him of where he came from. “

Djanii Alfa’s political involvement may have frightened the Guinean record industry. For this reason, he never had a sponsor, except for this concert, he admits. He had to quickly set up his own structure, a production house, G4 Life Muzik founded in 2015.

shoulder

Son of a teacher and a father employed by the national airline Air Guinée, Djanii Alfa was born in Fouta-Djalon in Koundara, spent his college years in a popular district of Conakry, in Matoto, and did some of his studies in Senegal (he speaks floating wolof). This journey, and the diversity of its stages, has created the identity of the artist who today fights for Guineans to stay in their country, to find opportunities and perspectives there. He founded an NGO, NGIR (Naître Grandir Ici et Réussir), an organization that aims to promote education and training. “Since the album’s release, 80% of the funds we raise have been invested in forming a non-governmental organization.”

His tour would end in apoteos on July 16 at the Bataclan in Paris. “A mythical room”, French hip hop made it one of its haunts in its early days, in the 1980s. “Since the first album was released (2012, editor’s note), with my team, we told ourselves we had to be able to send our message elsewhere, beyond our borders.”

Reaching as many people as possible is already what Djanii Alfa is trying to do in his country, where the melody is more appreciated, where music that makes you dance is loved. His conscious rap leaves a handicap: “It took me a lot of time and strategies to become who I am today.” More than 15 years of career, a life that arouses respect, but which he can not help but mock: “The 37-year-old rappers, they do not run on the streets,” he says with a smile. There is page A and page B of Djanii Alfa, serious and easy in turn.

On the Chef Rebel song list, he offers festive tracks as VIP, but also protest titles. At the same time, Djanii Alfa condemns the hostages that continue to plague Africa, corruption, lack of public services, lack of justice … “What I prefer is to make music on well-defined themes that can create debate. There are many ways to define rap, but to me, it’s an artistic discourse on current issues. ” His DNA remains commitment, as when in 2019 he proclaimed “I am from the shoulder”, a reference to Route Le Prince, bordering the districts of Conakry, in the front line in opposition to Alpha Condé’s third term and specifically targeted, in return for the regime’s repression. His family still has a house there.

Criticism

At the height of the socio-political crisis that hit his country in the late 2010s, some accused him of ethnocentrism. He would only defend the interests of the Peulers, the majority on the shoulder. It is a disqualifying insult in Guinea, where relations between societies are constantly under the eyes of observers looking for early signs of division. “This is a false debate. It is something that Guineans have found to shorten all discussions,” Djanii Alfa replied.

In March last year, he joined the national coordination of the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution. Until now, he was the spokesperson for the collective of FNDC artists and is now responsible for the Commission on Human Relations and Active Citizenship. More than ever, he carefully examines the political situation in his country. On September 5, 2021, he welcomed the coup that overthrew Alpha Condé. “It is not the failure of the system, but a victory for the counter-system. For 10 years the people suffered, but some Guineans never allowed themselves to be done, they tried to convince the other than that the system in place was obsolete,” he corrects. And finally, the CNRD, the junta in power, “contented itself with doing with weapons what people have been doing here for years with ideas and words.”

The continuation of the transition process still worries him. “The system, that monster is still there.” And he gives his very personal definition: “Since Alpha Condé’s time, I call them 300 (referring to the film of the same name, editor’s note). They are not many, the people who decide for us.” He condemns “recycling”, the “promoters of the third term”, many of whom are still in business. His struggle continues.

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Djanii Alpha Leader Rebel (G4Life Music) 2022

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