- Title: Songs produced behind bars in 2019 earn convict "street cred" in Burkina Faso
- Date: 1st January 2020
- Summary: TAPSOBA SINGING AS HE RECORDS HIS SONG INSIDE PRISON YARD IMAM KEITA, MUSICIAN WHO LIVES IN FRANCE, LISTENING DURING RECORDING, HELPING TAPSOBA PERFECT THE SONG KEITA SINGING WITH HIM TALKING ABOUT WHAT THEY WILL DO NEXT FOR THE RECORDING KEYBOARD
- Embargoed: 15th January 2020 13:01
- Keywords: Convict music music saving lives second chances
- Location: OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO
- City: OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO
- Country: Burkina Faso
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Music
- Reuters ID: LVA004BUCCZ13
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:The Ouagadougou prison and correctional facility known as MOCO is home to Burkina Faso's latest musical find - Roland Tapsoba, AKA 'Rolbi'.
Twenty-seven-year-old Tapsoba is serving a 5-year jail term for fraud.
In this cramped, overcrowded prison cell, Tapsoba can often be found writing song lyrics, as his cell mates help him out by singing the songs.
There are more than 2000 inmates here with sentences that range from a few months to life in prison.
"I am here at MACO (Ouagadougou prison) for fraud. I was convicted and sentenced to 60 months in prison. I have done 36 months - three years - and I have two years left," he added.
Singing in Moree and French, Tapsoba's work is a blend of different genres, including reggae and Warba, a music style that is popular in Burkina Faso.
Tapsoba explores a range of topics in his songs as well, including young love, his bond with his mother and youth unemployment.
Tapsoba says music does not only give him a sense of purpose, but it's also something that he's looking to pursue full time once he is released from prison.
"It is normal that when you do something bad you end up in prison. But, I think it is better to prepare for your exit. I have achieved my objective already and I am always looking forward to what to do so that even after prison, I can go on and also, why not, support other convicts," he added.
Tapsoba says he always had a passion for music and started experimenting with song writing and singing before he went to prison.
But once convicted, Tasoba says it took him a while to find inspiration again.
Tapsoba rediscovered his love for music during weekly music lessons held by the prison, as part it's rehabilitation program.
"Once you accept you are in prison you can start accepting other things. So really, I had a lot of ideas for the lyrics and everything but, at the beginning, I was a bit, I don't know, a bit stressed. But after a while I thought, no, why not start right now?" he added.
It's during the weekly music lessons that prison guard Karim Ouedraogo noticed Tapsoba's talent.
"I think I detected a hidden talent so I approached him and we talked and he agreed, so I gave him a guitar. He plays it often and creates his own compositions. You saw it, he immediately played with his fellow prisoners. And I think it's great for him and it's also great for us," he said.
After committing four songs to paper and hours of practice with fellow inmates in the prison court yard, Tapsoba eventually sat down to record his songs, with a guitar, an electric piano and a rudimentary laptop computer manned by Burkinabe artist and record engineer, Imam Keita.
The recording was organized by Freeman Tapily, a Burkinabe reggae star, who has held annual musical events for the last 8 years at the prison, as part of the re-habilitation program.
His songs 'Bayiri dem' and 'Kombibissi', which urge youths to go and work, be proud and live simply, have particularly struck a chord with young people.
"These are really good songs, well they are songs that can go really far. In my humble opinion, these are songs that can go really very, very far" said one fan Brice Ouedraogo, who lives in Tapsoba's old neighborhood.
"We heard that he made this in the prison of Ouagadougou, we thought the message on his album really raises your consciousness. My name is Mosse and I really like when I hear the song Kombibissi, when I listen to it, it really moves me," said Malachy Ouedraogo, another fan.
This country's licensing and copyrights body, the BBDA, has offered to sponsor and distribute Tapsoba's four-song album.
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