Art Melody – Futur feat. High Priest (Antipop Consortium)


In West African tradition, the griot earns a living telling stories and singing praise. Rap as an art form has often been compared to the griots’ storytelling skills, but the social and economic models usually accompanying rap are very different: the ways of the music industry have little to do with how the griots’ art and knowledge have been spreading for centuries.

But once in a while, an off-the-wall MC pops up with no interest in the rules of the business and only one objective: to rap about what he sees happening, for the sake of art and truth, no matter who might get pissed off. This is Art Melody. Nicolas Guibert, a budding French documentary filmmaker, stumbled across him in Burkina Faso in 2008. That day, Melo was hawking customers into shared cabs for a few coins, in one of Ouagadougou‘s busy taxi ranks, just one of the many hustles for this persistently underground MC. Within minutes, Nicolas was captured by Art Melody’s rough voice and steady delivery, and decided to add a portrait of him in Tamani, the film he came to Burkina to work on.

At the time, Melo was very much working on the sidelines of the hip-hop scene, and had not released anything. Although he had been around just as long as Burkinabé rap pioneers like Faso KombaYeleen or Smockey, who remain relevant to this day, Melo was still a poorly known, entirely underground artist. However Melo’s untarnished love for hip-hop and speaking the truth helped him grab Nicolas’ attention, and the two have since forged a strong bond, which in turn has enabled the launch of Art Melody’s career. Nicolas returned to Burkina in 2009 with some beats to record Melo’s self titled first album, and the two were at it again two years later for Zound Zandé.

In the past three years Art Melody’s been traveling to Europe on a regular basis, mainly to perform and record in France with Nicolas and his roster of beat-makers: Redrum, Minimalkonstruction and DJ Form. I was quite late to discover Melo, but ever since I first heard him with Joey le Soldat as Waga 3000, I knew something was up. The raucous, harsh voice combined with the Frenchies’ hard-hitting, boombap, futuristic beats, was something I’ve never heard before.

The song here is a new one called “Futur,” featuring High Priest of cult hip-hop group Antipop Consortium. It was produced by Redrum and Minimalkonstruction, and mastered by Dave Cooley of Stones Throw and Spoek Mathambo fame. Don’t forget to check out the great video for Futur by filmmaker Jeremie Lenoir. This who’s who of high-quality collaborators simply shows how Art Melody’s raw talent gathers love everywhere it goes.

I was fortunate to spend a few days in Ouagadougou with Melo, to get to know him and the hip-hop scene in Burkina. I realized Melo is still in many ways an outsider, an artist with very little concern for how things are done at home. As long as he can speak his truth, gather enough cash to raise his two kids and set aside enough time to write, he seems perfectly content. Bending his own rules to appeal to the powers that be is not something Melo does. He does not give away smiles or flatter egos to get shows. As a consequence, his routine in Burkina has not changed all that much: no radio interviews, very few shows, very few collaborations with other artists. Melo remains willfully on the sidelines.

Despite this situation, I was fortunate to man the ones and twos for him and Joey le Soldat for an impromptu performance at the French cultural center. After hordes of other MCs left the public lukewarm, Melo and Joey commanded everyone’s attention. They took me back to my high school days, when hip-hop was all that mattered.

In the days I spent in Ouaga, this show was the only ripple in an otherwise quiet routine for Melo. Yet it felt like I was witnessing the quiet before the storm: Melo’s next album Wogdog Blues comes out in a few weeks, and based on the work that has been put into it and the feedback so far, this one is sure to blow much further, and much harder than his previous opuses. Besides, Melo’s quiet lifestyle can be misleading: he may remain in the shadows at home, but he already has something strong going on outside.

Stories like Art Melody’s are why I started working with music in Africa: here is an artist who comes from very little—literally coins in a taxi rank—and he’s now performing at festivals in France and beyond. It is a shame that his talent is not more recognized at home, but I believe that will change with this next album. Nicolas and his team have shown such tenacious, heartfelt support, as well as such talent and vision in how they are pushing Art Melody, and I am thrilled to be involved in his rise. It is only a matter of time before his dedication to hip-hop shines through to his own people in Burkina. As Melo took me around Ouaga on the back of his gnarly moped, a lone soldier under the unforgiving, dizzying Burkinabé sun, all I could hear was his unstoppable flow. Art Melody raps like he breathes—everywhere, all the time. I see talent all the time, but this level of dedication is a force to be reckoned with.

Art Melody – Yamb Sabaab

Art Melody‘s husky, powerful voice has been catapulting the Burkinabé people’s daily concerns into the ears and minds of hip hop lovers worldwide. Just recently, Melo performed all across France with fellow rapper Joey le Soldat, as Waga 3000, and now he blesses us with the first single off of his upcoming album Wogdog Blues, due in March.

Yamb Sabaab is produced by French beatmaker extraordinaire Redrum, who has collaborated with Melo in the past. On this song, Art Melody gives love back to Ouaga and his people, as he talks about his routine growing up in Ouaga, discovering hip hop and freestyling from one end of town to the other.


Hmmmm thanks to you we are well, we are well

Hmmmm nobody can be well without the help of others. Thanks to you, thanks to you


Where do I live? I live in Ouaga

Let me tell you something about life in Ouaga

My neighborhood, Samandin, new paved road

Not far from Arzoum Missiran, the Friday Mosque

Often called Koukin Yaaré, the Caîlcédra market

Very early mornings, face barely washed

I used to take my two buckets to the fountain

Women, children also came to get water from this fountain

Ofe after the other people helped themselves

I would often wait for hours just to get a few liters of water.

After the shower, I did I go out? In HIP HOP mode!

How to reach the next street, cross the new paved road

And get rejected at the National School for Telecommunications, BandAvoir?

A few tokes of tobacco before I begin to sing

Bark like a dog in front of the neighborhood kids

Some would clap, others would laugh, saying I was wasting

My time, saying I was wasting my time, and I say hmmmmmm


Thanks to you we are well, we are well

Hmmmm nobody can be well without the help of others. Thanks to you, thanks to you


OK! After songs came time to go back out and take the new paved road

This time, heading to “Decodeur X One” who’d be called the Ballad.

If you don’t believe me ask Madam Salad

She’s tell you about our complain with Ballad.

When I used to get there, I could drink coffee and speak with everybody there

Take some time with Moufta, Jackim and Alain before heading back out

Once on the road, I would head over to my friend Coolio’s for a few more freestyles

From Coolio’s I’d take the street across the paved road again, walking down alleyways

The place where I’d spend all my time, was the central market, by the taxi rank to be precise


Big up to all taxi drivers in the city of Ouaga

Gounghin, Pissy, Tampouy, Larlé, Kilwin, Baskuy, Kolg, Ouidi, Bassinko, Cité An3, Diisa Yaaré (Sector 10 market)