An Interview with Toussa
Senerap, Senegalese Superstar

This past Saturday afternoon, Toussa Senerap and I were huddled in Laura Friederich’s (aka Queen Plz’s) living room preparing for Party Illegal later that night. Along with sets by Raleigh phenomenons Funkss and Chocolate Rice, Party Illegal resident DJ PlayPlay (that’d be me!) and a premiere set by NYC transplant DL Masc, Toussa was set to make a special appearance. Rather than merely having Toussa rap over some instrumental tracks, we decided to make some beats on the spot. I whipped out the Ableton, pulled something simple together, and then heard her begin to softly spit her lyrical genius. She wasn’t writing anything down. Toussa then interrupted me, pointed to the screen and said, “put a ‘BAP!’ there.” I put a snare where she pointed, played the beat, and she just went off, words in Wolof rolling freely off of her tongue. I told Toussa that Wolof words sound better to me than English words, and she wholeheartedly disagreed with me. She thinks the English language sounds the best lyrically, and is trying to incorporate more English into her own lyrics.

After we created a couple of tracks for her to rhyme over, we went to perform at the Pinhook. She didn’t rehearse or write anything down, she just hopped on stage and flawlessly freestyled to our beats, which were pretty fast, for over 4 minutes straight. Then we put on two of her instrumental tracks and she performed some lyrics that she had already written. Then I played an instrumental remix of Sage the Gemini’s “Gas Pedal” that she had never heard before and she freestyled over that one too! She had the Illegal crowd going wild the entire time. In short, Toussa is hella talented.

Here’s audio footage of Toussa performing with  at the Pinhook Saturday for Party Illegal:


Before the show, I sat down to interview her for Clarion Content. We were at Cocoa Cinnamon, and she was enjoying her very first Moctezuma – a signature latte with house-made dulce de leche and cayenne pepper. It was beautiful outside, and Toussa was rocking her new Beauty World shades.

What brings you to the states?

So you were here in Durham last year with Next Level and as a part of 1Beat . Could you tell us a little bit about that?

You performed at Cocoa Cinnamon last year with several other international artists. You all killed it! What was that experience like for you? Has performing changed for you since then?

Back in Senegal, you formed the female rap artist collective Gotal.

Last time you were here, we were able to give you a laptop, microphone and software so you and the rest of Gotal could start freely producing on your own (on behalf of Party Illegal, via a kickass fundraiser that was held last year at the Pinhook). Has this helped your workflow?

Toussa goes on to talk about the impact her studio is making on female artists in Dakar:

How do you feel about Durham? How does it differ from Dakar?

How’s 2015 shaping up for you so far? Have any big plans?

Finally, how does #partyillegal compare to the parties in Senegal?

Just in case you didn’t listen to that last one, there is a Party Illegal in Senegal! We may need to Livestream that…

Stay tuned for next month’s installment of Party Illegal on May 16th, featuring special guests Luxe Posh and Jermainia from Raleigh’s Full House Collective, as well as Party Illegal resident DJs Direwolf and Sup Doodle.

Jess Dilday is Clarion Content's current Editor-in-Chief and regular contributor. Jess originally moved to Durham to be a part of vibrant communities centered on music, art, and activism. Jess sees Durham as a place where people don’t just sit at a bar and talk about great ideas and rad projects - we put them into action. Their other alias is DJ and producer, PlayPlay. PlayPlay is in a constant musical conversation with the public, speaking across generation, race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality to create an all-inclusive dance floor. PlayPlay has opened for Big Freedia, MC Lyte, TT the Artist, Dai Burger, Double Duchess, Le1f, Jubilee, MikeQ, Cakes Da Killa and others. They are also one of the organizers and resident DJs behind Party Illegal (a monthly dance party in Durham) as well as the creator and organizer of several themed parties at the Pinhook, including the Dreaming of the 90's and Dark Entries parties.

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