If you’ve been to Bossa on a Tuesday night, chances are you’ve heard the most eclectic blend of African genres in the city, if not the East Coast. Resident headliner Cheick Hamala Diabaté – funky griot and Malian superstar – belts it out with a multifaceted crop of accompanying musicians who rock the pan-African vibe well into the night. Among them: a young emcee from Guinea who flows in French at Mach 1, locking Today and Always in a spirited union.

Diallo Sanoussy Gallice, Jr. – “Gallice” to his Bossa family – didn’t start out as a hip hop artist but was a showman from the jump. Growing up in Boussoura, a shantytown outside Conakry, his first instruments were made from sticks and cans – all he needed to put on shows for the neighborhood kids in between his studies and his infatuation with literature, music, and art. The turning point came with the discovery of Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s book, Du contrat social, which encourages the reader to forge happiness within.

“From that moment, my life changed forever,” he said. “Instead of listening to other people’s music, I would create my own.”

And the music he created was a style of French rap that quickly got him recognition once he arrived in the US – think MC Solaar but with the vitesse of the Shinkansen bullet train. Not viable with the lulling, ancestral sounds of Cheick Hamala? Think again.

“Some people find it hard to believe that a griot could share a stage with a rapper, which is legitimate because the two kinds of music have nothing in common,” he said. “But just as Cheick takes 500-year-old African melodies and makes them relevant today, I take Cheick’s traditional grooves and stories and remodel them. And let’s not forget that Guinea and Mali share a large cultural heritage; we have a lot in common in our musical repertoires.”

Finding the commonality in the time-honored and the contemporary is certainly Bossa-centric, so it’s no surprise that Cheick and Gallice bonded on the Bossa stage over what Gallice dubs “the lost canticles of [his] childhood”. Cheick’s rhythms and prowess spurred Gallice to dance, slip into reveries, and blaze forward.

“When I was a kid, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, my answer was always ‘musician’. This was my dream,” he said, revealing a smile steeped in summoned memories and a little amazement. “I mean, I am a young Guinean from the streets of Boussoura performing live at Bossa in the entertainment mecca of the capital of the United States of America! I know where I’m from, I know what I’ve been through and all the sacrifices I’ve made to get where I’m at, and I don’t take anything for granted.”

We definitely don’t take him for granted either.

Catch Gallice on Tuesday nights performing his frenetic brand of Guinean hip hop en français with the master of n’goni, Cheick Hamala Diabaté, and his multinational crew, Griot Street.