Kelefa Sanneh

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Kelefa T. Sanneh (born 1975) is an American journalist and music critic. From 2000 to 2008, he wrote for the New York Times, covering the rock 'n' roll, hip-hop, and pop music scenes. He now writes about culture for The New Yorker.

Early life

Sanneh was born in Birmingham, West Midlands, England, and spent his early years in Ghana and Scotland, before his family moved to Massachusetts in 1981, then to Connecticut in 1989. His father, Lamin Sanneh, was born in Janjanbureh, Gambia and is now D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity and professor of history at Yale Divinity School. Kelefa's mother, Sandra, is a white South African linguist who teaches the isiZulu language at Yale.

Sanneh graduated from Harvard University in 1997 with a degree in literature. While at Harvard he served as rock director for WHRB's Record Hospital and played bass in the bands Hypertrophie Shitstraw and MOPAR. He now lives in Brooklyn.


Sanneh garnered considerable publicity for an article he wrote in the October 31, 2004, issue of The New York Times titled "The Rap against Rockism." The article brought to light to the general public a debate among American...
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