The Grammy nominated singer, songwriter and producer, Maimouna Youssef, has arrived and is making quite a name for herself in the music industry.
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, most of her background in music came from her grandmother who was a choir director. She also went to the Duke Ellington School of the Arts before graduating in writing and film from the New York Film Academy. Label-less and without sponsorship, Maimouna traveled to Africa on her first solo tour to work with Nigerian youth. In the near future, we can expect to see her team up with Chucky Thompson, producer of Notorious B.I.G but it would also be her dream to collaborate with Andre 3000 whose “art of storytelling” she believes is “simplistic but prolific”.
When asked about the most defining moment in her career thus far, Maimouna noted several memorable milestones: “Opening for Lauryn Hill in Black Girls Rock because of what she represented—so much class and integrity. She never conformed to how the music business wants to see women—and she always wore her hair natural.” Displaying gratitude, she also mentions being a part of the documentary Dave Chapelle’s Block Party and that hanging out with Big Daddy Kane and Kanye West was surreal. “Most of the artists I listened to as a 9 and 10 year old were looking to me as a peer. That was when I thought—wow, I’m a part of this.”
For the mixtape called The Reintroduction of Mumu Fresh, Maimouna took creative license to a handful of hit songs and spliced them with fresh lyrics in order to open a social justice dialogue. “It was kind of a social experiment. I work with a lot of youth in Nashville, Atlanta and the DC area doing vocal workshops and many of these kids won’t listen to the great hip hop artists of the 90s. I get a sense that in the eyes of many young people today, to be conscious is to be corny, while back then, to be intelligent was cool. So for the youth who feel like the cards are stacked against them I changed the lyrics from ‘we’ll never be royal’ to ‘we’re already royal’ because you are not your circumstance. For women of color who feel negatively about the hair coming out of their skull, the song ‘Nappy’ is about accepting ourselves the way we are.” When asked where she would like her music to reach,Mumu responds with, “Japanese people have always been really accepting of African American art forms, to the point where soul music and jazz are still appreciated and celebrated [in Japan]. To me, soul music is where God lives.