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Nix. Photo: Sidy M. Kandji.

The Artist Is Present: Nix, the Senegalese Rap Pioneer

Nix talks about his new album, EMW2: Excuse my Wolof 2: The Nuulest, and putting Senegal on the map.

Nix or Nicolas Omar Diop, 39, has been a driving force behind his Senegal's hip-hop scene for about two decades. Like any old-head or vieux père, as we like to call them, his love of rap is rooted in admiration for the likes of Doug E Fresh, Kool Moe Dee, Father Mc, The Boys, Bobby Brown. as well as Frenchmen Mc Solaar, Assassin, NTM, and IAM.

Nix got his start with the group Kantiolis in 1993. Black Crystal, his first solo album from 2003 so moved the youth of the time it got him a Senegalese Hip Hop Award. 2010 would bring his second solo project, Rime de Vie. This was the start of international success and paved the way for a collaboration with Wyclef Jean. In 2016, he dropped his award winning third album, Art de Vivre and the Excuse My Wolof EP.

The EP was a test, it was his first project comprised majorly of Wolof, the Senegambian language spoken by 80 percent of Senegal's population. Before then, his tracks had been in French. When Nix dropped Excuse My Wolof, he did so knowing that fewer people would be able to understand his rhymes. The return to his roots forced him to step out of his comfort zone and reinvent himself artistically.

Last Friday, Nix released his highly-anticipated 16-track album, Excuse My Wolof 2: The Ñuulest or The Blackest. The name is a call to a period in the artist's life when he was made fun of for the darkness of his skin. It's also a state of mind and a celebration of using every aspect of yourself: your history, intuition and culture to create.

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