'the Malian Hip Hop prodigy honoring the African youth'
'His charismatic personality has been touching all audiences and boosting the image of Africa. Something he is very keen to do not only abroad but for Africans at home too'.
BBC Network Africa
"Malian rapper Amkoullel is part of a new wave of African hip hop artists, at once powerfully contemporary and well versed in tradition. He is a rapping, dancing, beat-boxing dynamo on stage, but there is no mistaking Mali in his mix, in the languages, rhythms, and sound scape. Amkoullel recently made his first appearances in New York City and was wonderful. With charisma to match his creativity, Amkoullel is the face of a new African music, absolutely an artist to watch as African hip hop defines itself and builds an international following, as other African genres have in the past."
Banning Eyre, Afropop Worldwide USA - April 2011
Issiaka Ba, 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 Hampate Ba in order to pay homage to all African cultures. He harmoniously combines 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.
Hip Hop for education, the voice of the voiceless: Amkoullel founded the first Hip Hop dance school, the Farafina Club, and the Mali Hip Hop Association which brings together artists, media and professionals. Amkoullel also hosted of Case Sanga, a heavily viewed Malian variety show, like America's "American Idol", which brings forth new talent and is gaining in popularity in francophone Africa. In 2009, Amkoullel was honoured at the Mali Hip-Hop Awards three times, booked to headline at the Waga Hip Hop festival and to perform in one of the major Mexican festivals.
Hip Hop without boarders
Ne Ka Mali (Mon Mali) the album released in Mali in May 2010 is 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 touches 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'.
2010 is the year of internationalization with an international management and a digital record label and distribution. He also appears on international compilations by Nomadic Wax, Afrolution and OIF. The creation of the first Koterap musical BAMA SABA launched at the famous French Avignon festival is making a stir as well as his participation to a poetry and literature festival that brings him into the intellectual French media. 2011 starts with the infamous Festival in the Desert, and launches a promising international carrier as Amkoullel, invited by American universities and students organisations committed to education and social change through Hip Hop, tore up the best clubs in NY and LA before selling out his first gigs both in France and the UK.