Biography: BIDEEW BOU BESS
BIDEEW BOU BESS (“New Star” in the Wolof language) is a performing group of three brothers: Moctar, Baïdy and Ibrahima Sall. The trio is recognized throughout Senegal for their innovative mix of musical genres and languages, as well as for their attention and commitment to important social issues at home and abroad.
Natives of Podor, the brothers relocated to Senegal’s capital city, Dakar, where as young hip-hoppers they began performing in 1994.
After winning a contest organized by the Ministry of Education in 1996, they caught the attention of Senegalese cultural icon Youssou Ndour. Three years later, in 1999, the brothers released their debut cassette, Ndékété Yoo!, produced by Ndour for his Jololi label. The title track, “Ndékété Yo”, featured an appearance by Wyclef Jean and became an instant hit, along with another track, “Ouh Ah”. The album topped the charts, sending Bideew Bou Bess on their trajectory toward stardom.
In 2000 they toured extensively with Youssou Ndour’s Project Joko to connect Senegalese communities around the world. That same year, the trio received their first gold disc for the hit single “Ex-nihilo,” produced by the Congolese-born French rap star Passi for his album Gènese (V2/Sony), which was released in Europe and featured Bideew Bou Bess and Gabonaise rapper Rcfa, among other international hip-hop and reggae artists.
The group then signed with Passi’s label, ISSAP, which produced their first international release, Original, in 2003. During this time, several of their hits also appeared on popular compilations such as Da Hop: Le son de Dakar (Jololi/Delabel, 2000), Dis l’heure 2 rimes (ISSAP Productions, 2002), and more.
At that point, the brothers were still just teenagers. As a young band from the suburbs of Dakar, they had experienced some big things, but had a lot to learn about the music business. They took some time off, allowing them to mature as artists and further develop their unique style.
All of them instrumentalists, composers and songwriters, their music reflects an evolved understanding of hip-hop as the universal language of their generation. With lyrics in Wolof, English, French and Spanish, they deliver their message through original melodies and close harmonies, infused with traditional rhythms and sparse but evocative instrumental accompaniment. In a conscious attempt to remain deeply rooted yet open to experimenting with new and diverse genres, they bring together the contemporary genres of hip hop, soul, rap and reggae with a range of rhythms and melodies from Senegal and across northern Africa to southern Spain.
In 2010, Bideew Bou Bess returned to the music scene with the release their second international CD, Ndoumbélane, which means “The Jungle” in Wolof – a reference to their experience in the world of music “…where all shots are allowed, as master money rules, where there are neither ethics nor morals. We want to remind people to respect African ethics,” says Baïdy Sall. The album was a major success in Senegal, and allowed the group to reconnect with their audience after such a long absence.
The group also founded their own Senegal-based production company to handle their recordings and manage their busy concert schedule.
Joining forces with the award-winning film production company Gelongal resulted in some stunning music videos, adding to their ever-growing international audience, which led to a tour in Brazil and Latin America in 2012.
Also in 2012, during a visit to the United States, collaborations began between Bideew Bou Bess and U.S. musician/poet Tony Vacca when they were introduced by Pape Pouye, one of Senegal’s most daring music producers. Vacca invited them to be part of his Things Gotta Change CD project, with a U.S. tour that introduced them to schools and universities across the country and an invitation to participate in the International Hip Hop Festival 2013, an annual educational conference held at Trinity College in Hartford, CT.
That same year, Bideew Bou Bess reciprocated by hosting Vacca’s Senegal-America Project with poet Tantra Zawadi at their sold-out anniversary concert at the Daniel Sorano National Theater of Senegal (Senegal’s equivalent of Carnegie Hall). At this concert, they performed an unforgettable set with Baaba Maal, one of the truly timeless giants of African music.
In 2013, Tony Vacca and Abiodun Oyewole (of The Last Poets) received a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Dakar to bring the Senegal-America Project back to Senegal for a series of concerts, workshops, and collaborations. In addition to Vacca and Oyewole, the group included poet Tantra Zawadi, and musician Derrik Jordan. This time they filled the CISES Arena, and then the Joseph Ndiaye Amphitheatre on Goree Island.
As followers of the Tidjane Sufi Muslim brotherhood, respect for humanity and nature is essential to their spiritual faith. They are committed social activists who use their widespread popularity in Senegal to address pressing social issues that include universal free education, affordable health care, AIDS awareness, preventing domestic violence, exposing and preventing land grabbing, and global citizenship.
Through their nonprofit organization, Music in Service, the band collaborates with other international organizations such as IOM (International Organization for Migration), the ASDI (Association Senegalaise pour le Développement Intégré) initiative to fight against AIDS around the Senegalese border, ENDA PRONAT project with “No to Land Grabbing” awareness, UNFPA Project to fight against maternal and infant mortality, ADEMAS project campaigning against early pregnancies and UNHCR project to fight against statelessness.
Today, Bideew Bou Bess are experienced and articulate performers with a clear sense of their place in the world’s ever-changing music scene.
In September 2016, they released their latest single, “Belle,” which received more than 200,000 views on YouTube within the first 3 weeks, while gaining momentum on TV and radio stations throughout West Africa.
Bideew Bou Bess has signed with the U.S.-based New African Production for exclusive representation in North America, and is currently gearing up for another U.S. tour in 2017-2018.
Written by “DJ Neva” E. Wartell
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