Papa Moussa Lo, a.k.a. Waterflow, was born in Pikine, an outlying area of Dakar that epitomizes the hardships of families and the lack of opportunities for the youth in Senegal. His name reflects his attitudes about life through the flow of water, the life-sustaining element of the earth that flows positively forward each day. Waterflow is the charismatic and thoughtful spokesperson for Wagëblë, a pioneer hip hop group in Sénégal, formed in 1997.
Wagëblë’s name connotes the communal meeting place for the people to discuss the issues that affect their lives; the group’s philosophy originates from the name’s associated acronym, Wax Aduna Gëddu Ëttu Baatin Lemu Ëlëk, which essentially means that Wagëblë feels that their calling is to speak truth to the world about the essential spiritual knowledge of life in order to ensure a positive future.
After contributing to six hip hop compilations, Wagëblë teamed up with Norwegian manager Fred Russel and producer Tom Roger and released Wagëblë’s first album, Wagëb’ Rap New Generation in Sénégal in 2003. Its release was the culmination of Hip Hop Rally Oslo Dakar, a major festival organized with artists and music industry people from Norway, Sénégal, Kenya and the U.S.
Wagëb’ Rap New Generation firmly established Wagëblë as the “voice of the voiceless” on the Senegalese hip hop scene. Wagëblë’s second and critically acclaimed album, Sénégal, was released in 2005 and voted best album by a group at Sénégal’s Annual Hip Hop Awards that same year. Since the release of Sénégal, Wagëblë has toured Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, France, The Gambia and Guinea, while remaining steady on the scene in Sénégal.
Wagëblë has also collaborated with other artists on two CDs, with Minoritet 1 on Two Worlds, One Struggle and with One People on their debut CD, Tatanka.
Wagëblë’s music is a unique blend of hip hop, poetry and spoken word. They describe their style as ‘Rap Afro,’ a style fashioned by combining rhyming patterns with themes that speak to the difficult life of the disenfranchised youth, as well as highly-politicized and cultural messages. Through Rap Afro, Wagëblë builds on the tradition of the griot as the storyteller who affirms the values of society, the oral historian, societal critic and spokesperson for the community to speak truth to those in power. Wagëblë raps in Wolof and French, though the group also speaks English.
Although many find Wagëblë’s messages universal, their primary focus has been to empower the youth of Africa towards building a better world for themselves in light of what many see as a failure of the leaders of the previous generation. Wagëblë’s messages to the youth in Sénégal emphasize hard work, self-determination and encourage the building of the future in Sénégal, their Motherland, rather than dreaming of life in the West. Wagëblë is known for their appearances at schools and universities in Sénégal; for them it is an essential opportunity to connect with and inspire the youth of the country.
Waterflow is a member of One People, a global peace organization based in Norway; Wagëblë also serves as ambassadors for Diambaars, a sports-based youth empowerment program in Sénégal.
Currently, Wagëblë is recording their third album and planning for another European tour next year. Wagëblë has served extensively on panels and participated in workshops on the role of hip hop in politics throughout Scandinavia and the United States...