Watch a clip of underground hip hop from Niger’s Mamaki Boys

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Nigerien underground Hip Hop group Mamaki Boys present the remastered video for their song “Takkai.” A fiery track with machine gun delivery that is a call to arms to preserve Nigerien culture, it appears on the upcoming reissue of Mamaki Boys’ 2007 album Patriote which was originally released on CD-R in 2007 in Niger. It’s going to be re released via the Sahel Sounds label on August 6th, 2021. You can find a link to it here.

Mamaki Boys was formed in 2002 by Aziz Tony, Bachou Issouf, and Salif André in Niger with the trio inviting elder musicians into the studio to play Nigerien instruments like duma and kalango, which were sampled and looped over their compositions. This is what Aziz has to say about it:

“We wanted to put the tradition in the rap, ancestral dances, the things that our grandparents did in the village. Our mission was to re-value the culture, put it into Hip Hop, and to show all the colours of our country.”

TAKKAI
Lyrics translated to English from Hausa
(note: takkai is a traditional dance performed with small batons)

1st verse:
Why are you all surprised?
Do not be surprised to see a small child unable to crush a coconut (proverb)
Times have changed, you must change as well my brother
Nigerien Rap has evolved, and you must evolve too
Create your own feeling brother, because we created our own.

You have to do some research,
We’ve done our research and that’s why we came back with the inspiration of the takkai sound
If it bothers you, get lost
And if you agree with us, take your stick and come along
Because we’re dancing to the tradition and culture of the takkai of Nigerien.

Here is someone who cries of hunger
Here is another one who mourns his debts
You adults, for the love of God, make sure the dance is beautiful
because all the way to Ghana they say Mamaki keep the tradition
we haven’t abandoned the tradition of our ancestors.

Elders, do you know what will happen tomorrow?
Children, do you know what will happen tomorrow?
From tomorrow we will do more work regardless of pay,
Anyone who stands in our way will be defeated,
Yes, anyone who stand in our way his defeat is guaranteed.

Refrain:
When you hear “chouu”
you hear “cha, cha!”
You’ll hear the sound of the takkai stone go “koss!”
Because we Mamaki are going to be inspired,
Learn and research and bring back and set fire,
with the sound of takkai

2nd verse:
Even though we opted for rap,
We still keep our tradition with the style and dance of takkai
In Niger, without war and without famine, we had the dance of the takkai
Why are you amazed to see all the eyes to the sky
When an eagle is carrying an elephant? (proverb)

We can see our president, taking an oath to watch over the youth
And the youth have lent him our strong hands
We can see Tony paid his debts, Bacho paid his debts,
And you too have paid your debts
We can see the master of ceremonies danced to the rhythm of takkai
And we are wholeheartedly with him

We can see everything,
So give us the ax to get our hip hop out of the claws,
Give us a cut so we can get your hip hop out the thorns,
Give us cups so we can lift it out of the debris

Refrain

3rd verse:
You who are behind the stage,
Come forward so we can dance in your footsteps x 2
You who are behind the stage,
Approach and listen
Anyone who has a beard or will someday have a beard
We say hello, Tony says hello
Anyone who wears a skirt or is will someday wear a skirt
We say hello, Bacho says hello
Anyone who wears a jabba or is will someday wear a jabba
We say hello, Salif says hello
Anyone who wears a walki or who aspires to wear it someday,
We say hello, Mamaki says hello

Refrain x 4

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