IAM, Medine, Arsenik, Kery James, Rohff… So many big names in French rap that have gravitated around the man who first made a name for himself in France in the 1990s and 2000s. No more records and mixtapes for the “ambient ghetto”. At 44, Pit Baccardi – Guillaume N’Goumou by his real name – has been label director of the African subsidiary of Universal Music based in Abidjan since 2020.
Co-organizer of the Salon des industries musicales d’Afrique francophone (SIMA), which will be held on November 17 and 18 at the Hôtel-Ivoire in Abidjan, Pit Baccardi hopes to respond to the priority issues of the music market in Africa, starting with the digitization. To do this, he brought together a fine panel of industry players (producers, publishers, artists, lawyers, etc.), ranging from Olivier Laouchez, CEO of Trace, to Elvis Adidiema, Managing Director of Sony Music Francophone Africa, in through Benjamin Ifrah, head of urban music distribution at Believe.
An ecosystem under construction
“When I came to the territory more than ten years ago, there was no question of discussing with platforms or setting up conferences, because we did not have the necessary consistency to do so, nor of setting up African tours, lack of adequate structures, he rewinds. Today, we clearly have an ecosystem, still under construction of course, but we have references in terms of artists, producers and structures. No one would have thought that majors like Universal or Sony would have settled on the continent, and yet they have today. The Sima arrives at the right time”, welcomes the forty-year-old.
We do not claim to bring peace through music, but spreading messages of union remains essential
This is not Pit Baccardi’s first attempt. The African music industry, he knows it from the inside. Already in 2010, the ex-boy from Yaoundé returned home and launched the Empire label. He integrates the kamer environment and participates in the development of the scene as a producer.
Cameroon: once upon a time, kamer rap
“It will surely sound pretentious if I say that I had a fan base on the continent, but it was my notoriety that allowed me to open certain doors locally. This was a facilitator to sign artists, because I already had credibility as a rapper, even if I had to prove myself as a producer, ”he concedes. Pit soon reveals the urban music group X-Maleya. He sees in this trio a commercial potential, but above all one of the rare groups capable of “bringing together all the populations and ethnic groups of Cameroon”. We are in 2013, and after two albums on the clock, the combo is doing its Olympia, in Paris.
A small success that took off the kamer scene, with the emergence of urban artists like Locko, Stanley Enow, Jovi, or Daphne. “There is something that pertains to the afraid to dare who broke free at that time. We have proven that local artists can have the same influence as a European group. Together we created a dynamic, and this movement means that today we can have structures like Trace, which is opening a subsidiary in Cameroon, after setting up in the DRC. I can boast of having contributed, on my small scale, to the creation of a scene”.
Olivier Laouchez, CEO of Trace: “The crisis is a boost to go digital”
A unifying approach, dear to Cameroonians, affected by the security crisis that is going through. “I lost relatives and friends there. We do not pretend to bring peace in music, but spreading messages of union remains essential, ”says the singer, who therefore put his voice on the track. We need peace, released in 2018 at the time of the conflict, surrounded by French-speaking and English-speaking artists, such as Nabila, Ko-C, Blanche Bailly, Daphne, Minks’, Mr Leo, Blaise B and Sango Edi.
Today based in Abidjan, like its counterpart Youssoupha, he does not forget his native Cameroon, which also saw the return of Yannick Noah recently. “This phenomenon of returning to the country among artists has always existed, but not the promotion of the approach. Because we did not see the continent as a fertile ground for doing business, because of the informal sector and the different modes of operation, he notes. People from Africa all have a twinge in their hearts when they come back, especially when they have hit hard in France, and they see, like me, the love of the people. It is for this reason that we all have this will to do something. »
For the time being, it is by perpetuating Sima and by structuring the status of local artist that Pit Baccardi intends to support his heirs, Dosseh, “a little brother”, Suspect95, DidiBJobi, or even Samba Puzzi.
SIMA, November 17 and 18, 2022 at the hotel Ivory, Abidjan
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Pit Baccardi: “I participated in the development of the kamer scene” – Jeune Afrique
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