This article is part of Phoenix New Times' issue focusing on immigrants in the Valley of the Sun. See our full coverage here.
Fabrice Beohourou fosters a convergence of diversity on his weekly Radio Phoenix program The Yaggah Movement Radiocast.
He strives to give Arizona’s black and brown residents a voice at a time when the political atmosphere here and around the country continues to threaten our immigrants and minorities, lifting up the state’s African, African-American, and Caribbean communities.
It fits the award-winning community internet station’s mission to create a platform that mirrors the vibrant and diverse people that make up the sprawling metropolis.
“My goal is to cater to the black kings and queens of America, my Latinos from South America, and the other foreigners of the country,” says the man also known as Mr. Klean B. “Those who don’t have a voice.
“I’m basically catering to my community through my culture. I’m not pushing my culture onto anyone — this is just who I am, and I’m introducing people to something new,” he says. “Like National Geographic.”
The Yaggah Movement airs every Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m., when Beohourou regularly hosts local musicians and community leaders. He engages in conversations near and dear to his peers, and offers music from throughout the African Diaspora. During the show you’ll also hear reggae joints, hip-hop tracks, and even reggaeton and cumbias.
Beohourou usually shows up to the basement-level studio at the Phoenix Center for the Arts around two hours before he hits the air.
He approaches the show with a workmanlike quality, eager and excited to start broadcasting to the world. He cues up his set list with songs like “Kokoro” by Rich Mavoko, “Chillax” by Farruko, and “Missy” by Rex T; and lines up his levels on his mixing board before readying his questions for the day’s guests.
His voice is deep, and somewhat coarse, but his African accent gives him a melodic cadence that sings once he’s on the mic.
“Yaggah,” he exclaims with tenacity and vigor as soon as he’s live. Sometimes repeating his signature catchphrase in spitfire repetition. “Yaggah-yaggah, I’m back in the building!”
Mr. Klean B fashioned his trademark slogan, “yaggah,” in 2010, after a rapper who appeared in HBO’s Baltimore drug and law-enforcement drama, The Wire. To Beohourou, the saying represents a good time, happiness, and positivity.
Topics for the show can range from immigration to any number of political or social commentaries, and he always makes sure to shine a spotlight on any up-and-coming entrepreneurs or artists he might have sitting across from him in the studio that day.
“Not everybody listens to African or Jamaican music, so I try to have a mix of guests. I have people from Mexico, Africa, and Jamaica pretty often,” Beohourou says.
That diversity was on full display during his first broadcast in March, when Mexican-American supply-chain specialist Alex Cano and Cameroon-born Kelyne Kenmogne sat in for the show.
Cano, 25, joined the segment to promote the Refugee Code Academy, an organization he co-founded that helps connect refugee students in the Phoenix area with computer programming education. Kenmogne, 24, is a regular guest of the show who works as a microbiologist and model.
“Shows like this are important because people need somebody to uplift them and cheer them on,” Kenmogne says. “The Yaggah Movement is one of those shows that anyone can relate to.”
When Beohourou first launched the show in October 2016, the West African native had a different vision in mind for what the show should be.
“At first, when I joined the radio station, I wanted to form an outlet to promote parties, clubs, and events,” he says.
The 36-year-old emigrated in 1994 from the Ivory Coast to Washington D.C., where his father worked as an embassy employee. He eventually moved to Maryland, and spent some time in Los Angeles before finally settling in Tucson in 2001.
“When I was in Maryland, I was surrounded by a big African community, especially people from the Ivory Coast,” Beohourou says. “I wasn’t learning anything new. So after I graduated from high school, I decided to just leave the East Coast and explore the West Coast, and that’s how I ended up in Arizona.”
While African communities were abundant and varied in larger cities like Los Angeles and D.C., Mr. Klean B found a much different environment in the desert.
“It was a culture shock, and I loved it,” he says.
“As an African, people here had never heard of where I was from. They knew about Africa; they knew about the continent, but saying I was from Côte d’Ivoire was something new to a lot of people. They might have heard of the Lost Boys, Nigerians, or Egyptians, but not of someone from the Ivory Coast.”
In November 2015, he made his way to Phoenix, and quickly took to networking and trying to promote shows at local venues.
“I met a lot of local artists, but I wasn’t hearing their music on the radio,” he says. “In Tucson, there was a public television station called Access Tucson that brought a lot of the community together. But everyone kept telling me there was nothing like that in Phoenix.”
Eventually, Beohourou found Radio Phoenix and spoke with board president Victor Aronow. After that, he was hooked.
He spent hours listening to the various programs the station had to offer, and finally worked up the courage to be a guest on the Bungalow Show with host Kaja Brown. At the station, he would go on to find plenty of teachers and like-minded folks willing to impart their wisdom on to him. Veteran hosts like Adlee “Tray” Salaam would go on to take Beohourou under his wing as both friend and mentor.
“I came in after my show one day, and he was getting ready to do his. He was kind of having a hard time and he tells me, ‘It’s hard out here for a pimp,’” Salaam, 53, says, imitating Beohourou’s accent. “This man was quoting Three 6 Mafia. I said ‘Man, that’s cool.’ After that, we just clicked.”
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The two continue to sit in on each other’s shows, and often pass guests between each other to keep the conversation going and broaden their reach.
“That’s what Yaggah is about — it’s about unity, harmony, evolution, and positivity,” Beohourou says. “I hope to inspire, motivate, and show people this is what Phoenix is about. It’s not just desert and cacti and Joe Arpaio. Right now, all over the Valley, there are things going on.”
Mr. Klean B has big plans for his fledgling show. Ultimately, he hopes to one day become a syndicated broadcast, but until then he’s content practicing his craft and articulating and growing his brand.
“I’m pretty sure when people see me for the first time, they don’t think of me as African,” Beohourou says. “So it helps to kill the stereotype of what an African should look and be like. We’re not all terrorists, or criminals, or rapists. We don’t grab anyone by the pussy. Yes, I am from Africa, my culture came from there, but I am a part of you, too.”