Timbuktu has earned a reputation as Sweden's most influential political hip-hop and rap crossover artist, called by some "the rapper even your grandma knows." Born January 11, 1975, Jason Michael Robinson Diakité's African-American father and Swedish mother spent time living in both Sweden and Chile. His multi-ethnic and multinational upbringing exposed him to a wide variety of musical styles and influences. He began rapping in the early '90s, quickly becoming a fixture in the Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Malmö live hip-hop scenes. Writing lyrics in Scanian and English, Timbuktu teamed up with a Danish rapper in the mid-'90s to form the multilingual duo Excel. The pair released one album, entitled Bright Lights Big City, before disbanding.
Timbuktu's solo career was initiated by the release of T2: Kontrakultur in 2000. Refusing to water down his lyrics for commercial success like so many of his American counterparts, Timbuktu rapidly earned a reputation as a voice of political dissent and challenge. His confrontational lyrics and inclusion of musical influences like folk, blues, reggae, and West African styles made the music both difficult to categorize and wildly popular. An unrelenting chart presence and regular performance schedule over the course of several years made Timbuktu Norway and Sweden's most notable urban voice. By the 2007 release of Oberoendeframkallande — an album that topped the Swedish charts — Timbuktu had racked up four original album releases backed by his own Juju Records. From 2008 onward Diakité became a regular host of Musikhjälpen, an annual Swedish charity radio and TV broadcast that has raised money for different causes via song requests.
In 2011 he issued the studio album Sagolandet, featuring production assistance from Mayomi and Petter collaborator Patrik Collén on a number of tracks. This was swiftly followed in 2012 by Pusselbitar, a compilation that effectively summarized Timbuktu's career from 2001 onward. Both albums went gold in Sweden and were helped by the publicity surrounding the tenth anniversary of Diakité's first performance with the extensive funk band Damn! Also hailing from Diakité's home town of Lund, to mark this milestone they collaborated with him in 2012 on Full Ära, an album of re-interpretations of their most popular live material. The following year, in alignment with the Norwegian charity Plan, he helped to create a recording studio in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, enabling disadvantaged young people from the city's slums to gain professional musical experience. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez & James Wilkinson