On the cover of MHD’s eponymous album debut, paint thick as blood drips from his hands. In the right palm of the 21-year-old we see a smear of red, yellow and green – the national colours of Guinea and Senegal, his parents’ homelands – while in the left we see the French tricolour: blue for liberité (freedom), white for égalité (equality) and red fraternité (brotherhood).
Even though France is not always great at maintaining these fundamental values, particularly when it comes to immigrant youth, it seems that Mohamed Sylla from Paris views them as inseparable from his identity. MHD is as French as he is African.
As a self-proclaimed pioneer of the genre «Afro-trap», this becomes especially obvious. Although it isn’t necissarily easy to hear the inspiration from trap – bass-heavy and club-ready beats from the United States – the rapper Mohamed is set in a clearly Western lineage. Instead of cultivating the melodies, which is the case in a lot of modern afropop, the youngster blasts off all his powers in delivering bars that burn like lashes.
It is probably precisely this fusion of African, polyrythmical riddims and French, focused rap artistry that made MHD into a phenomenon: The music video for «Roger Milla» has single-handedly claimed a staggering 17 million (!) views on YouTube. The song is also a magnificent example of Mohamed’s flaming passion for soccer, as it’s namesake is the legendary Cameroonian striker.
This is also a way of fighting for freedom, equality and brotherhood.
Double concert with Positive People
ID: 20 year
Text: Kim Klev