This project is supported through the Confluences open call, aimed at supporting a shared space for collaboration, creation, and documentation of new work between musicians who have an existing creative relationship.
For “The Laboratory”, Swiss producer and multi-instrumentalist Fred Hirschy and South African lyricist Tumi Molekane will travel to Dakar from 23 March – 4 April 2023 to record at the Karantaba Records studio for 12 days with Noumoucounda, a Senegalese musician and singer specialised in traditional music. During this musical laboratory the artists will experiment and exchange freely, with the view to developing new afro hip hop pieces.
The three artists share long creative relationships and have worked together in different configurations over the years. “The Laboratory” will bring them together in the same place for the first time.
Noumoucounda and Fred met in 2004 in Didier Awadi’s band. Their connection was immediate and led to Fred producing Noumoucounda’s two solo albums. Together in 2017 they co-founded Karantaba Records in Dakar, a label and recording studio that combines urban and traditional music.
Tumi met Fred in Paris while he was playing with Awadi’s band. “He has the unique skillset of being able to bridge African traditional music with hip hop in a tasteful and authentic manner”, Tumi explains. This led him to invite Fred to produce his third album, “Tumi: Return of the King”. Despite all their work taking place remotely, the two artists shared a creative vision and approach. Since then, Tumi has done features for Fred’s various projects, including appearing on Noumoucounda’s first solo album. Fred explains, “He’s the best rapper I’ve had the opportunity to work with and the quality of his flow and of his lyrics give depth to our music and make it full of meaning.”
“The Laboratory” project emerges out of these intersecting histories and a shared desire by all the artists to develop new music together in studio.
Fred Hirschy is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer from Switzerland. Born in 1977, at the age of 12 he started listening to Prince and this artist led him to the music of other Black artists. At the same time, he started breakdancing and discovered hip hop culture. In 1992, he learned the guitar but also started to play bass, drums, keyboards and made his first compositions. Music quickly became an important part in his life, so he decided to quit school and started his music career in 1996. Very influenced by funk music, nu-soul, hip hop and jazz, Fred decided to go to the US in the early 2000s and finally settled in Senegal in 2003. This is where he found his sound and was able to mix all his influences and experiences: an organic sound that blends hip hop and traditional African voices and instruments. In 2017, he co-launched Karantaba Records, a record label in Dakar. Fred is currently working on several projects including Daara J Family’s upcoming album.
Tumi Molekane, aka Stogie T, is a South African rapper and poet. He was the lead vocalist of Tumi and the Volume. After the band disbanded, he relaunched himself in as Stogie T in 2016. His various solo projects include an album with French production team Chinese Man and the Australian hip hop pioneer label Nuffsaid Records. His lyrics draw inspiration from his family’s deep engagement in the struggle for liberation in South Africa.
Noumoucounda was born in Dakar to a griot family. The rich Mandinka tradition flourished in his immediate family and at the age of 20 he joined the Dakar Conservatory where he focused on a traditional repertoire. However, his drive to cross boundaries led him to join Positive Black Soul in 1994, one of the pioneers in African rap, with whom he travelled the world for 20 years. He has since collaborated with many well-known artists, including Alpha Blondy, MC Solaar, Ernest Ranglin, Youssou N’Dour, and Stromae. In 2017 he co-founded Karantaba Records, a label and recording studio in Dakar.