The two members of Positive Black Soul were both born in the city of Dakar, Senegal. As teenagers, Awadi and Barry were involved in the Dakar hip hop scene—Awadi leading his own group, Didier Awadi’s Syndicate, a breakdancer as well as a rapper; and Barry performing with the King MCs. Originally Awadi and Barry were rivals, competing with each other in performances and coming from separate neighborhoods of Dakar. During a birthday party held by Awadi to which Barry was invited, however, the two performed together and realized their similarities, founding Positive Black Soul very soon after. Activism and politics are central parts of the group’s philosophy—its shortened name (PBS) was a play on the Parti Démocratique Sénégalais initialism “PDS”.
In 1992, the group performed at a music festival held by the Dakar French Cultural Center, where the French rapper MC Solaar heard their performance and invited the group to open for him when he debuted in Dakar in October of that year. The rapper was impressed with Positive Black Soul, inviting them to continue performing with him in France. Two years later the group put out its first release, a cassette entitled Boul Falé. The album was followed by more touring in France, as well as in England and Switzerland. In the same year, the Senegalese musician Baaba Maal offered PBS the opportunity to be on his album Firin’ in Fouta. Maal was signed to Mango Records and because of this recording with him, Positive Black Soul were signed as well. They released their album debut Salaam on Mango Records. After achieving success in Senegal and some abroad, the group continued touring, including 130 performances in 1997. They also began organizing concerts in Dakar and promoting new groups including Daara J and Pee Froiss.
Positive Black Soul’s first international release, New York Paris-Dakar, had been previously released as a cassette in Senegal. However it was only in 1997, six years after its initial appearance, that it was sold outside of the country. The American rapper KRS-One, one of the group’s collaborators on the album, shared a similar philosophy and interest in Pan-Africanism with Awadi and Barry.
Edited by nnnudibranch on 8 May 2008, 06:19
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