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Griots, Rappers, and Deejays

Within the flourishing expressive cultures of the African diaspora, the rhythmic voice plays a functional role as the conveyor of experiential reality. Indeed, many aspects of spoken-word performance that currently manifest as rapping and hip-hop in the United States and deejaying and reggae in Jamaica and Canada are rooted in the Jali, or griot, traditions, which can be traced back for millennia and are common across West Africa.


Griots are hereditary chroniclers of their people’s history and the main keepers of folkways, mores, genealogies, and all knowledge that makes it possible to convey a sense of human worth to current and forthcoming generations. That is why they are regarded as far more than presenters of the spoken word, for they harmonize ...

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