‘The Malian Hip Hop prodigy honouring the African youth’ profiled by his international manager and one of his biggest fans Marie-Agnes Beau
Amkoullel is indeed some kind of prodigy as he is making a stir everywhere he goes, among any kind of audience. Just back from a US tour and major festivals in France and the UK, Amkoullel touches everyone with his unique charisma and style: a complete artist who is deeply conscious and socially committed with a very positive attitude, but can also get anyone to dance on his genuine blend of tradition and contemporary urban music. His recent performances in the US and Europe are proving wrong all kind of industry stereotypes, starting with the language barrier. He easily gets consciousness to rhyme with sexiness, tradition with urban, cultural with commercial.
Born and raised in Bamako, Amkoullel started to rap at the age of 13 and organised his first concert just a couple of years later with his scholarship money. His artist name is an homage to the great Malian author, historian and philosopher Amadou Hampate Ba: Amkoullel was his nickname and the title of one of his bestsellers.
Amkoullel, the artist, got his first hit when he was about 20 years old with a video featuring him on a bicycle, already trying to break the clichés of the genre. Committed to be the Voice of the Voiceless, he went to France to study Law and realised when he was passing his MSc exams that he would be a lot more efficient and happier as a rapper. Since then he’s never stopped working for his community, restlessly boosting the image of Africa through education and culture. Amkoullel is a cultural and social entrepreneur, a successful TV presenter, an arranger, producer, video director and actor as well. He is now recognised as the most talented and socially committed Malian rapper, harmoniously combining traditional and contemporary global cultures to promote social responsibility. He tours in Africa with a 5 piece band including two amazing dancers.
In 2009, Amkoullel was honoured at the Malian Hip Hop Awards three times with the track and video ‘Farafina’. In 2010 he released his 4th album Ne Ka Mali!! (My own Mali) with 4 beautiful videos and launched the first ‘Koterap’ Bama Saba at the famous Avignon festival that will soon tour in France.
2011 started with the Festival in the Desert and will definitely be the year of Amkoullel’s international launch with a successful US promotional tour and sold out dates in France and the UK in June. Invited in the USA by various American universities and students organisations committed to education and social change through Hip Hop, Amkoullel has contributed to various panels and workshops about Hip Hop and Education or the African origins of Hip Hop. Moreover, his live performances – with Yacouba Sissoko playing Ngoni and Talking Drums who is now touring with Afrocubism – have had a real impact! Check out some extracts of his performances in England at the Africa Oye festival and at London’s Momo. Everyone wants him back for various tour, festivals, major media programs, and residency projects around the UK!
Ne Ka Mali!! CD available from Santé Diabète (Mali)