“His voice is a marvel…the blur of movement during a live show is as heart-stopping as anything in music.”
Peter Margasak of the Chicago Reader
“If monolithic Senegalese mbalax star Youssou N’Dour has a successor, it’s probably Pape Cheikh Diouf.”
Richard Gehr, Village Voice
Born in 1973 in Dakar, PAPE CHEIKH DIOUF is from a guewel (griot) family originally of the Siné-Saloum Delta region in southwestern Senegal. As a youth, he was sent to his uncle’s house to learn the plumbing trade. But his passion was music, which he pursued in his spare time and ultimately decided was his path to follow.
Along with his enormous talent, Pape Diouf is known and admired for representing certain human and social values that are central to Senegalese culture. His themes, expressed in the Wolof language, are about love and life’s lessons, and especially about “teranga” – mutual respect, acceptance and hospitality as a way of life. His lyrics speak directly to the hearts of Senegalese everywhere, many of whom live abroad and are nostalgic for their homeland.
His captivating sound and charismatic performance have inspired references to “the new Youssou Ndour.” Now that Ndour is Minister of Tourism and no longer performs, Pape Diouf is seen as the likely successor to the master of mbalax. Even in his movements and vocal style, Pape emulates his idol, who in turn has called him “the future of Senegalese music.”
In 1995, at the age of 22, he joined the Lemzo Diamono Group, where his talent became widely recognized with three major hit recordings: “Darou Rahmane” (Talla Diagne, 1996), “En Live Diapason” (KSF, 1997) and “Co Co Rico” (unknown, 1998).
After going solo in 1998, several frustrating years passed before his first album, Live au Biddew (Tribu/Lampe Fall, 2003), and a U.S. tour. It was then that Pape met Mamadou “Jimi” Mbaye, lead guitarist of Youssou Ndour’s band Super Étoile de Dakar, who helped him record and produce Partir! (Jololi, 2004) – opening the door to a promising career. That album brought widespread acclaim for the title track, “Partir” – a brilliantly-conceived mbalax take on Andrea Bocelli’s blockbuster hit, “Con te Partirò”.
It was also the launch of Pape Diouf et la Génération Consciente, his band which has now been together for more than 18 years.
International tours and pressure from his fans led to the 2008 album, Jotna, released on the Prince Arts label (formerly Jololi, still under the guidance of Youssou Ndour). The gates were thrown open and Pape Diouf was now an idol in his own right.
His 2011 album, Casse Casse (Prince Arts), was released with a massive hit, “Bégué,” which took him over the top.
In July 2012, Pape succeeded in filling the Grand Théâtre de Dakar, proving to all of Senegal his place as contender to the title, “King of Mbalax.” Less than one year later, in March 2013, he sold out the world-famous Zénith Theatre de Paris.
Pape Diouf then signed with New African Production, Inc. in May of 2014 to represent his interests in North America. Pape Diouf released his highly-anticipated new album, Ràkkaaju, in October, 2014 to rave reviews and critical success. In April 2015 Pape Diouf & la Generation Consciente sold out the famous Dock Pullman in Paris. Following the success at Dock Pullman Pape Diouf toured Europe then West Africa.
In 2016 he released his new single, Malaw featuring the Gambian artist Baye Babou. He then performed at the Gambian Independence celebrations and was received by the Vice President of Gambia. He followed up with a North American and European tour that same year.
In March 2018, Pape Diouf released his new album, Enjoy!, and followed that with his history making performance at the inaugural African concert presented by SummerStage in Harlem at Marcus Garvey Park. He then headlined in the Pape Diouf show at Accor Hotels Arena at Bercy in Paris where he drew an audience of over 15,000 old and new fans and wowed everyone yet again.
In 2019, Pape Diouf had a great 6-State United States tour as well as sold out performances in Africa. As we stride towards 2020, the prospects for this amazing artist are very bright!
Pape Cheikh Diouf has emerged as one of the most important voices in contemporary Senegalese music. More than just a prolific hit maker, he draws on his family’s guewel (griot) traditions to sing about love, life lessons and the Wolof ideal of “teranga” – mutual respect, acceptance and hospitality that’s at the core of Senegalese life.