Making The Video

While my original goal here was to record a CD, I’ve put that aside in favor of a series of film projects, all of which have kept me really busy as things wrap up around here!!

My latest project has been helping make a music video for a rapper named “Bastin”.

Two weeks ago, my guitar teacher introduced me to Modibo “Bastin” Diabate, who is trying to make his debut here in Bamako with his song “Sanuya” (which I should mention, was arranged by Lamine Soumano and produced by Studio Mali).

Bastin handed me a French translation of his lyrics, and we sat down to listen to his song. The next day, I filmed him in concert as part of a big hip-hop show organized in honor of an album debut for Malian megastar rapper Ramses Damarifa of the Mali’s #1 hip-hop group Tata Pound. The show was great, with the series of consistently-solid opening acts only exceeded by Ramses himself. However, the footage I managed to get while trying not to get trampled by the excited crowd wasn’t quite enough to stand on its own.

We decided it was time to move things to the next level, expand on the concert footage, and make a full-fledged music video. This is something I’ve been trying to do since day 1 here, so needless to say I was VERY excited at the prospect!

“Sanuya” is a song about cleaning up Bamako. Bastin told me that he’s very upset about the amount of pollution in Bamako, something that covers up the deeper beauty of the city. I agree: Bamako can be a beautiful place, but it’s so easy to get lost (literally) in the pollution, in the open sewers and the billowing trash and not see the underlying everything else. Now that it’s the peak hot season, the pollution is at a very dangerous level for everyone.

The video should hopefully be within the next week, but here are some group pictures from throughout shoot to whet your appetite!

Though it isn’t as apparent from the photos, most of which were taken after long long days of shooting in 120 degree weather, the subject made for a very fun video to shoot! Focusing directly on trash makes for a great time. I even got a big group dancing on a giant trash pile!

Along the way, I got much needed support and organization from Lamine Soumano and Bastin as we directed the group of rappers, friends, and an ever-growing number of people dancing in the video. There’s even an adorable scene of his entire neighborhood yelling, “La pollution and la nuissance!” But I get ahead of myself.

We broke the shoot up into three days: one in Bamako (85% of the film), one outside of Bamako (one scene), and one day with, of course, Mah Bara Soumano, who sings a refrain!

The last day I spent at the house of Mah Bara Soumano and Andra Kouyate, both of whom I have recently been privileged to film in studio in preparation for their new international debut project, 2Fanga (more on that soon!). At the end of the third day, after a few group pictures, “ngoni wizard” Bassekou Kouyate even showed up, fresh from a tour through Europe.

Well, it was great fun. Here’s hoping we can get it all edited and out soon!

2 thoughts on “Making The Video

  1. Hi Spencer!

    The work you are doing seems awesome! Keep it up! When do you think your rap video will be out? Are you gonna get to edit and upload while in Mali? Or will that have to wait?

    I was wondering if you would be willing to email me so I can send you a longer email ( I am hoping to head in the same direction that you have already headed in and would love to talk to you.

    Thanks so much,


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