Sister Fa - Sarabah: Tales from the Flipside of Paradise


"Sarabah: Tales from the Flipside of Paradise" - Sister Fa

Sarabah: Tales from the Flipside of Paradise

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  • Artist:Sister Fa
  • region:Africa
  • release year:2009
  • style(s):
    • Hip Hop
    • Rap
  • country:Senegal
  • catalogue numberPIR2334
  • formats:
    • CD

Sister Fa is Senegal's Queen of hip-hop. But getting to the top wasn't an easy road - for a woman to break through in an almost exclusively male field within a male-dominated society, it was a long, hard journey. Struggle breeds compassion, and Sister Fa uses her international album debut "Sarabah - Tales from the Flipside of Paradise" to speak out against the injustices rampant in her native country. Warm, groovy and unmistakably African, her raps, in Wolof, Manding, Jola and French, roll elegantly over beats as well as traditional sounds (kora and djembe), delivering tracks far removed from rap clichés, and more influenced by 80s Old Skool hip-hop than current Western forms of hip-hop.

From the very beginning of her career, Sister Fa has dedicated herself to fight the wide-spread practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) in her country: "It's an operation that can kill - I've seen dead babies with my own eyes. We need to fight against this practice at all costs and get rid of it forever. But it is quite a complex problem. It's a practice that has been around for some 3000 years - I myself am a victim." It is a major taboo for a Senegalese woman to raise her voice against this tradition, one which usually only foreign celebrities openly condemn, but during her "Education without Mutilation" tour in 2008, funded by Germany's cultural institution, the Goethe Institute, Sister Fa took her fight to the front lines: the Senegalese cities and villages where FGM is most firmly established, hoping to sensitize the population of her homeland.

For Sister Fa hip-hop is about raising awareness and denouncing the wrongs of life: "When you're a musician, you're an ambassador - you are here to defend and help people, not just to make music for money." FGM isn't the only issue she addresses on "Sarabah": there is the real story of a young girl in an arranged marriage ("Bou Souba Si Ngone"), AIDS messages aimed at women ("Life Am"), songs dealing with the plight of Senegalese soldiers ("Soldat") and the hard-working lives of women in Senegal's countryside ("Milyamba"). "Hip Hop Yaw La Fal" is about the power of hip-hop, while in "Selebou Yoon" Sister Fa argues that hip-hop is in harmony with Islam. The latter was featured on the "Many Lessons - Hip Hop Islam West Africa" compilation (Piranha Musik, 2008).

Born in 1982 as Fatou Mandiang Diatta in Senegal's vibrating capital Dakar, Sister Fa recorded her first demo in 2000. Senegal's hip-hop community is huge (apparently there are about 2,000 rap crews in Dakar alone), so it wasn't easy for Sister Fa to make a name for herself, even more so as a female. But her commitment, drive and talent meant she performed at many events, took part in documentaries and released tracks on compilations. Sister Fa's music feeds on Dakar's energy but also has roots in Casamance in Senegal's south, her family's ancestral home. These rich musical and cultural traditions have significantly influenced her artistic output, lending it a uniquely personal note. After the sudden death of her mother, she dropped out of school to dedicate herself fully to music against her father's wishes. Her first solo album was released in Senegal in 2005; that year she also won the prize for Best Newcomer of the Year at the Senegalese Hip-Hop Awards. Since then Sister Fa has become a pillar of the Senegalese hip-hop scene. She has overcome hardships to become the best-known female rapper in Senegal and a role model for many young women.
Sister Fa, now mother to a baby daughter and since 2006 based in Berlin, Germany, is proud that she has paved the way for other Senegalese female rappers to become as popular as her male colleagues Positive Black Soul or Daara J.
With "Sarabah", which was recorded in Dakar and produced by Sister Fa and Bob Dynaa, she is ready to spread the word to the world, sharing her tales from the flipside of paradise.


""Milyamba": featured on Charlie Gillett's BBC World Service "World of Music" playlist, 1 August 2009"

""Sarabah": 4-Star Critic's Choice (David Honigmann) Financial Times UK, 14 June 2009"

"despite the serious, engaged themes she addresses, the album ("Sarabah")impresses with its elegant styling and relaxed, at times melancholy, atmosphere."

Tageszeitung, 9-10 May 09

"Put this on repeat, it's sensuous, heady, smooth and deep...It's a gem of an album that needs to be shared inside and outside the hip hop community. Wonderful"

MC Melstar/Jill Turner, Gondwana Sound, 18 May 09

""Sarabah": A World Music Charts Europe Top 20 Album for June 2009"

"Wer bislang Berührungsängste mit afrikanischem Rap hatte, wird von Sister Fa kuriert", 22.Juni 09

"This is brave work and, more to the point, it rocks. 4 Stars"

New Internationalist, December 09

" Sarabah made it into 2009's Top 30 Albums of the Year for the World Music Charts Europe"

"I have no idea whether this Senegalese rap singer is known in our country or not. But what I do know, after listening to her record about a dozen times, that this lady is much better than all the pretentious youngsters harassing this music style en that she is a woman with a message. [...] Her themes are not the lightest but the music she uses to get her message across is to be cherished.[...] This is the ideal festival artist: the people who do not understand the message immediately can still enjoy the beauty of the singer or dance to the irresistable rhythms. Conclsusion: listen to this album if you get the chance!"

Mazzmusikas, June 2009

"Ihre Stücke auf Französisch, Wolof und Manding sind typisch afrikanisch, Instrumente wie Kora, Djembe und landesübliche Percussion werden, wie im Opener „Milyamba", zu organisch integrierten Bestandteilen.", 29. Mai 09

"2009 erblickt ihr hiesiges Debüt, "Sarabah - Tales From The Flipside Of Paradise", das Licht der Welt. Dabei präsentiert sich Sister Fa nicht nur als gewandte Rapperin und Musikerin, sondern auch als politisch und sozial engagiert.", 19. Juni 09

"Sarabah is sassy and sharp in delivery, over a backing of kora, guitar and beats; Fa raps about Islam's compatibility with hip-hop, child soldiers and her mother, who died early"

Financial Times, 13 June 09

"There are marvellous tracks here – the brilliant ‘Milyamba’ with its cascades of kora strings; the sassy ‘Amy Jotna’ (‘Amy, it’s time’). But the real heft comes in Fa’s message. [...] This is brave work and, more to the point, it rocks."

New Internationalist, December 09

"Ihre Songs spiegeln die reichhaltige Kultur des westafrikanischen HipHop, in der sich westliche und afrikanische Einflüsse vereinen.", 11. Juni 09

"Egal, ob Sister Fa von ihrem Glauben oder der Zwangsverheiratung spricht, sie ist stets on point und rappt oder singt professionell. [...] Schön ist auch die musikalische Begleitung, die gleichermaßen von traditioneller afrikanischer Musik wie von starken Drums beeinflusst ist. [...] Sister Fa hört man an, dass Rappen ihr im Blut liegt", 19. Juni 09

"[In Berlin] hat sie auch ihr neues Album "Sarabah" produziert, mit dem ihr jetzt internationale Aufmerksamkeit gewiss sein dürfte. Denn trotz der ernsten und engagierten Themen, die sie darauf anspricht, besticht das Album durch seine elegante Machart und seine entspannte, zuweilen fast melancholische Stimmung.", 19. Juni 09

"2005 gewann Sister Fa den senegalesischen HipHop-Award als beste Neuentdeckung ihrer Heimat. Ihr internationales Debüt aber konzipierte die 26-jährige Sängerin und Rapperin aus Dakar schließlich in Berlin. Mit einer gelungenen Mixtur aus Rap, HipHop und Afro-Pop gelingt ihr der Anschluss an so prominente Landsleute wie Daara J. Der Chorus in "Milyamba" etwa erinnert an Senegals Starsängerin Kine Lam. "Soldat" wiederum vereint Reggae, Raggamuffin und Rap. Trotz Pop-Appeal behandelt ihr Sprechgesang auf Wolof, Manding und Französisch auch todernste Themen wie Aids und Genitalverstümmelung."
Wolfgang Zwack

Stereo Magazin, 08 2009

"'Sarabah - Tales From the Flipside of Paradise', is, at once, a nod to old-school rap and also a blazing new direction for West African Hip-hop. Expect to see a whole lot more Sister Fa [...]"

'Sarabah - Tales From the Flipside of Paradise', is, at once, a nod to old-


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