Monday, May 12, 2008


A hip hop message of idealism from Sweden. I found such a message on my last trip to Stockholm, from Timbuktu's 2005 CD, Alla Vill Till Himmelen Men Ingen Vill Dö. I wanted to buy a hip hop CD in Swedish that would energize my runs along the San Francisco waterfront. Mission accomplished.

Born in 1975 in Lund, in the Skåne region of Sweden, to an African-American father and Swedish-American mother, Timbuktu's birth name is Jason Diakité. Timbutku is well-known in Scandinavia as a political rapper who addresses racial prejudices and multiculturalism in Sweden. He spent some of his childhood in Chile and growing up with multicultural exposure shaped his political lyrics.

Timbuktu's rapping career, which includes influences of Reggae, Reggaeton and West African, began in southern Sweden in the early 1990's, in English. Wanting to create music in his mother tongue, he made the switch to his native Swedish in the year 2000. He then became a household name in the Swedish hip hop community and drew global attention.

Timbuktu says a trip to Ghana in 2004 inspired the release of Alla Vill Till Himmelen Men Ingen Vill Dö, which, in English, means "Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven But Nobody Wants To Die." He says it's a favorite local expression in Ghana. The expression and song for which the CD is named, Timbuktu says, is about idealism, about a better future for those without hope.

Timbuktu hopes to bring that message of hope to a hip hop summit he will chair in Stockholm later this month, Make It a Blast!, scheduled for May 27th, featuring hip hop artists from Sweden and other European countries. The summit's producers hope it can help create unity and discussion throughout the urban music community in Europe. Read more about Timbuktu's effort here.

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