Chapter 2 – Nostalgia “En noir et blanc”

Chapter 2 – Nostalgia “En noir et blanc”: Black Music and Postcoloniality from Sefyu’s Paris to Buddy Bolden’s New Orleans

Chapter Abstract

This chapter is a close reading of the Senegalese-Parisian rapper, Sefyu’s “En noir et blanc.” It performs an intertextual and musical analysis as a way to bring into form the historical and discursive continuities between double consciousness and postcoloniality that we can hear in the sonic contours and performed histories of “black music.” The chapter is foundational to laying out the basic terms and tenets of the book’s central argument, namely, that by listening closely to European hip hop we can hear that double consciousness is the particular African American form of the global experience of postcoloniality—the first pillar of the book’s argument. In turn, by tackling such a large question through the lens of a single piece of music, we can see in detail how, through musical performance, hip hop births a new consciousness both attuned to this continuity and calibrated to undermine the asymmetries that both double consciousness and postcoloniality describe. This close reading is contextualized against the ethnographic frame of the preceding chapter. Indeed, fieldwork is akin to the close reading process insofar as both scholarly approaches embed the researcher within networks that must be navigated and traveled in order to understand creative communities and their music.

Chapter Keywords: Sefyu (Youssef Soukouna), Nina Simone, Buddy Bolden, double consciousness, postcoloniality, Paris, Senegal, close reading, hip hop, jazz, Édouard Glissant

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Chapter Media

Sefyu, “En noir et blanc”  (Audio Only Version)


Nina Simone, “Hey, Buddy Bolden” (Ellington and Stayhorn)



Album art for the Sefyu album, QuiSuis-Je? on which “En noir et blanc” appears (thanks to Fouad Alloui of Fall Design for permissions).



“En noir et blanc”  (Video Clip Version)



Still from the video for “En noir et blanc”: Sefyu’s image reflected back as a Southeast Asian man with child.



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Chapter 2 Podcast