News Brief

Celebrated Senegalese Artist, Issa Samb, Has Passed Away

Senegalese interdisciplinary artist, Issa Samb, also known as, Joe Ouakam, passed away yesterday at the age of 71.

Prolific Senegalese interdisciplinary artist, Issa Samb, also known as, Joe Ouakam (after the neighborhood his was born in), passed away peacefully yesterday. He was 71.


The painter, sculptor, performance artists, playwright and poet, was one of the co-founders of Laboratoire Agit'Art, a Dakar-based collective dedicated to revitalizing African art through the examining of international forms of artistic expression and schools of thought.

Samb studied law and philosophy at the University of Dakar before dedicating his life to the arts, reports RFI Africa. He was an outspoken critic of the commercialization of Senegalese art, and he was one of the first artists to openly critique the literary philosophy of Négritude.

According to French news outlet, Le Quotidien, the artists once vehemently called out mercantilism in the art world during a video interview. "The beauty of the world is art and culture," he said. "Now the so-called artists are selling this beautiful heritage left to us by our ancestors."

Samb's stand-out style and vibrant aesthetic made him a recognizable figure in his community and beyond. His home in Dakar is a city treasure that features a courtyard full of unique artifacts. It's known as a meeting place for artists and intellectuals, which will hopefully be preserved long after his passing.

In 2010 the National Gallery of Dakar exhibited a retrospective on the artist's life and career.

Interview

Interview: Terri Is Stepping Out of the Shadows

We talk to the Wizkid-signed artist about the story behind the massive hit "Soco" and his latest Afro Series EP.

Certain afrobeats songs have made in-roads in international markets and paved the way for the genre's ceaselessly-rising widespread recognition. Among these history-defining songs were D'banj's "Oliver Twist," Tekno's "Pana," Davido's "If" & "Fall," Runtown's "Mad Over You," and of course, Wizkid's "Soco." Wizkid released "Soco" under his label imprint, Starboy Entertainment in March 2018, and the song spread like wildfire across Africa and beyond. "Soco" was an Afro-pop wonder delivered at a time when the 'afrobeats to the world' movement was gathering steam, further cementing its electric nature. The Northboi-produced song was co-signed by celebrities across the world like Rihanna, Cardi B, and Paul Pogba and has accrued well over a hundred million streams across streaming platforms worldwide.

"Soco" was not only a trailblazer amongst mid-2010s afrobeats records, it was also the introduction of the first Wizkid-signed artist, Terri. Just weeks before "Soco" was released, Terri was discovered by Wizkid's longtime producer, Mutay, who saw him covering the song "Oshe" on social media.

Before "Soco," Terri Akewe was well on his way to fame. At fifteen, he had performed at street carnivals in his neighbourhood and, one time, was carried all the way home by neighbours after winning a Coca-Cola sponsored singing competition. Before his life-changing meeting with Wizkid, Terri had a seven-track EP ready for release, as well as a viral song titled "Voices." "One time I was on set with the video director T.G Omori, he told me that 'Voices' was the first time he heard of me" Terri tells me as we settle on a plush couch at his home in Lagos.

Regardless of Terri's initial career trajectory; signing to a label headed by afrobeats' biggest superstar was bound to accelerate his musical journey, and at the same time, cast a huge shadow of expectation on his career, especially given a debut as spectacular as "Soco." With his latest EP, Afro Series, powered by the sensational single "Ojoro," one thing is clear: Terri is stepping out of the shadows into his own spotlight and he is doing it on his own terms.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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