Simon Grab & Yao Bobby is the collaborative project of Togolese rapper and political activist Yao Bobby and Swiss noisemaker Simon Grab. The duo have been invited to perform their singular raw and improvised form of live experimental hip-hop‚ free-form rap and noise at the «Nyege Nyege International Music Festival 2022» in Jinja, Uganda from 15-18 September 2022. Nyege Nyege is currently the most important festival for electronic club music and experimental electronica on the African continent.
Yao’s lyrics (in his mother tongue Ewé, French and some English) deal with current injustices in Africa and the colonial legacy on the continent. His unstoppable flow, versatile dynamic range and emotional frequency transcends language and taps into the spirit of resistance. His raw vocals, attitude and forward momentum are unmistakeable in their intent to crush borders sonically, socially, and politically. Yao’s energetic rhymes are fired into a dark soundscape of electronic bass pulsations with a dub-punk attitude, produced by Simon on analogue feedback electronics.
Yao Bobby & Simon Grab’s performance will coincide with the release of their debut LP “WUM” on the Bristol label LavaLava. “For Yao Bobby and me, this invitation comes at the right moment,” Simon explains. “With a performance at the festival, our presence will also bounce back to Europe.”
Since the 1990s, Yao Bobby has been making his mark as an activist in African rap and has participated in building up a Pan-African hip hop movement. His artistic earmarks are strong lyrics in French and Ewe and a surprising flow. He has released on Nomadic Wax New York and has been featured on many albums. He lives in Agbodrafo Togo where he opened up a small cultural centre for music and arts, with exhibitions, concerts and community works, also showing his recyclart sculptures he creates from found objects and trash.
Simon Grab has been on the experimental electronic music path since the early 90s, with some serious outbreaks into punk, jungle and dub. With his solo work he releases on -ous Records Zurich and sound-space London. He recently collaborated with Duma (Kenya, Nyege Nyege), Deaf Kids (Brasil) and Petbrick (UK, Brasil) to released an album as a game. Simon is the co-founder of ganzerplatz sound studios (since 1996) and has been an active musician and producer in a wide range of musical contexts, including composing and producing music and sound design for feature films, documentaries, theatre and radio. In live performances and installations Simon uses the venue as an acoustic playground.