Sounds from the Sahel: Mali Track of the Week

SMOD – Les Dirigeants Africains

SMOD is a music group formed in 2000. The name SMOD is an acronym of the first letters of the names of the founding band members, however the ‘M’ – for Mouzy – left to pursue a music career in Europe shortly after the band was founded. They all remain close friends.

SMOD is made up of three hip-hop inspired young Malian MCs. ‘S’ – for Sam – is the son of hit double act Amadou and Mariam. Through Sam’s parents SMOD met the highly successful Spanish/French singer Manu Chao and have since created several works with him. Through their association with him and other Malian artists they have quickly gained recognition. A leap into the spot light for SMOD came when they performed in both the Opening and Closing ceremonies for the 2002 African Cup of Nations football tournament that was hosted in Mali.

Their musical style is typical of young African rappers. They represent a break from the traditional perception of what Malian music is as well as what hip-hop is about. Below are Andy Morgan’s comments following an interview with the group:

“No mincing words or metaphors. No ancient musical traditions that cosy up to power. No decadent ghetto fabulous fantasies. None of that. Just plain rhyming about the simple truth that everyone can see out of his or her window.”

Andy’s article chart’s their history very well. It also points out that African rap in general has taken up hip-hop’s rebellious cause in is own way, which is expressed elegantly by SMOD. Even before the recent political crisis and coup SMOD were vocalising their fears surrounding Malian unity. Throughout the crisis they have worked “more than ever” for hope and unity. They express a sense of responsibility that artists have to raise funds – particularly abroad – to help support efforts at home.

This week’s track is an example at one of their more negative appraisals; this time of the African leadership. The song is not angry though. More disappointed, tired and resigned. It also has a fairly well put together music video – an increasingly vital part of the upcoming generation’s strategy for global recognition.


SMOD – Les Dirigeants Africains


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