Sabar is a beloved and traditional folk music, played with a sabar, a traditional drum, generally played with one hand and a stick, throughout Senegal and The Republic of The Gambia. Most often you’d hear the style at weddings and other special celebrations.
Guiss Guiss Bou Bess—Mara Seck, Aba Diop, and Stephane Costantini — is a Dakar, Senegal-based act with some bonafide credentials:
- Mara Sack is the son of beloved griot and musician Alla Seck.
- Aba Diop is a rising sabar percussionist, from a family with a deep lineage with the instrument.
- Stephane Constanti is a producer with extensive knowledge and experience in electronic music and drum ‘n’ bass.
Since their formation, the Senegalese trio have attempted to modernize the ancient and beloved sabar style, creating what they’ve dubbed Electro Sabar, a mix of ritual percussion, trap, dubstep, UK garage, drum ‘n’ bass, bass house, Afrobass and kuduro that manages to simultaneously respect Senegalese traditions while being inspired by the bustling, exuberant, working class neighborhoods of their hometown.
Back in March, opposition Ousmane Sonko was arrested for rape allegations. His arrest led to ongoing mass protests, demonstrations and riots across the country, which has left more than 13 dead. Mackay Sall, Senegal’s President has responded with restrictions to Internet, social media and other other forms of expression and communication as a way to curb protests.
Coincidentally, the Senegalese trio’s latest single “Sunu Gal (La Pirogue)” off their album Set Sela manages to be remarkably timely: Featuring Senegalese emcee ISS814, “Sunu Gal,” as the band explains was written for their homeland’s young people: Partially written as a loving ode to Senegalese culture and values, the song sees the collaborators calling for their homeland’s young people to peacefully protest, while demanding that the government respect and honor the rights and concerns of its people.
Sonically, “Sunu Gal (La Pirogue)” is a heady and slickly produced mix of traditional rhythms and instrumentation, skittering trap hi-hat, tweeter and woofer rattling beats, dialogue, traditional chants and some fiery and dexterous bars delivered in French and local dialects — presumably Wolof. While obviously being a meeting across the African Diaspora, the song is a powerful reminder that hip-hop is the lingua franca of young people across the globe.
Directed by Jean-Baptiste Joire, the vidoe for “Sunu Gal (La Pirogue)” is a gorgeously shot glimpse into daily life in Senegal with a playful and fantastical bent, before heading to the club, where we see dancers doing a mix of traditional and modern steps to the song.