Issiaka Bâ, is one of the most talented and 'conscious' Malian rappers of his generation
His stage name is taken from a novel by one of Mali's most noted authors/historian/philosopher - Hamadou Hampaté Bâ - in order to pay homage to all African cultures. Actually Amkoullel was the nickname of his direct illustrious ascendant, from which he has also inherited the will and ability to harmoniously combine traditional and contemporary global cultures and to promote individual and social responsibility. As the leader of Hip Hop in Mali, Amkoullel is committed to keep this movement positive and respectful of traditional oral culture.
Amkoullel started working seriously on his rap when his first radio experience at the age of 13 was banned by the authorities. A year later he was organising his first rap concert with his scholarship money. He left for France to study Law (paying himself for his studies in doing the worse night jobs) and released a first album-Infaculté-loaded with texts against ignorance. In entering the exam room, he realized his life would be torn apart between the arts and the law and it was obvious he would rather be the voice of the voiceless on stage rather than in court.
He released a second album Surafin ('Bribe') and toured extensively with Cheikh Tidiane Seck. He also appeared alongside Manu Dibango, Keziah Jones, Rokia Traoré and has notably supported Alpha Blondy, Lobi Traoré and Tiken Jah Fakoly. In 2007 he was offered to go back home and co-run Mali K7, Ali Farka Toure's record company. He then created his own label Woklo Barka Productions to produce his third album Waati Sera ('It's Time !') that proved to be both a militant opus against Africans' disdainful self-image and a harmonious musical blend of traditional African instruments and contemporary popular musical genres.
2010 he released Mon Mali!! an album that was not only an invitation to discover Africa through the eyes of Amkoullel, but also a call into question the notions of 'the other'. Rapping and flowing in French and Bambara, Amkoullel touched on vital social issues such as education and African unity. Accompanied by Didier Awadi, one of African Hip-hop's fathers, and an illustrious compatriot Xuman, Amkoullel presents other regional well-known performers ; as French spoken word artists RIM and CANDIIE put it in the album introduction: 'Nothing is black nor white, there are always loads of colors in between'.
During the spring and summer 2011, Amkoullel has considerably extended his international fan base with a US college and clubs tour, sold out gigs at the Etonnants Voyageurs festival in France and in London, and Africa Oyé festival in Liverpool in front of 10,000 people. Amkoullel is an imposing stage phenomenon, triggering waves of excitement in audiences wherever he performs. Here is an excerpt of London's Momo gig before you get the full film by Enchanted Tunes.
In preparation for 2012: a new international album, a BBC show, an African tour in the spring and European tour in the summer.