Makhtar Le Kagoulard is an MC who comes from, Senegal, a country that has a great history of music, what with artists such as Youssou N’dour and Akon. Coming from this rich musical land, Makhtar takes his music very seriously, so much so that no one has ever seen his face. He wears a mask in all of his videos to conceal his identity. Living now in the U.S., I had the pleasure of meeting Makhtar and get the story behind his secret identity.I met him on a video shoot in Brooklyn: he recorded several songs with local Brooklyn artists and was shooting the videos for his latest album. Makhtar is a conscious and often political MC who uses his art to educate and uplift the masses. He says what he looks like or who he is has no importance. He want his words to be what people focus on and remember him by.
We are sitting in the living room of an apartment that is being used as the holding space for the video. Mahktar begins to tell me the story of why he left Senegal and now lives in the States. He first tells me his new album, “Sene’mafia,” is the number one album in Senegal. This is his first album in almost four years and the streets have been waiting for it. He says he is the people’s champ and voice of the new generation. So why is he here?
A few years back, Makhtar released a song speaking very strongly against a certain political party and its agenda. What happened next would cause him to leave his country. He was leaving a show and there was an attempt on his life. He was only grazed by a bullet and survived. Because he always wears his mask, no one knows who he is, so the attackers had to wait until he did a show to make their move. Knowing they wouldn’t stop til the job was done, he left Senegal.
A weird feeling comes over me as I realize the seriousness of this man and his message. I’m not even sure I would call him a music artist. I came to the conclusion his was a servant to his people who chose hip-hop as his tool of choice. We in the States of this generation have nothing but the black history stories of our parents to compare to what Makhtar still lives today. Like a true leader of a movement, he continues his message.
Makhtar is here in Brooklyn, shooting videos with Clarisa Rose, Squala Orphan, Frank Biggs, and Meta from Meta and the Cornerstones. Meta is also from Senegal and now lives here in New York. Meta and the Cornerstones were nominated for best reggae group by the French Culture center in 2000.
Here is their video, “School of Senegal”:
Clarisa is a songstress who has beeen featured on BET several times and even won “Freestyle Fridays,” a contest on the show 106 & Park. Here is the official video, “Jefeundikol Sa Xel”:
Squala Orphan is a MC who has worked with several hip-hop legends including Guru and DJ Premier. Frank Biggs a music producer and engineer extraordinaire. Here is the official video, “Rap Bi Moma Saf.”