Hip-hop has an important legacy of being an instrument used to "fight the powers that be," but in Senegal, West Africa, where voices of opposition are silenced, the stakes are raised. Ben Herson, the founder and director of Nomadic Wax -- a global hip-hop record label and production company, explores the role of hip-hop in African culture in the short film 'African Underground: Hip Hop in Senegal.' The piece is part of a longer film, 'Democracy in Dakar,' which focuses on music and politics during the country's 2007 presidential election campaign.

Mixing interviews, freestyle and commentary from journalists and artists alike, 'Hip Hop in Senegal' educates on the relationship between Western and African hip-hop culture. One striking difference is the influence of Islam--for many MCs, it means no cursing and absolutely no elements of misogynism -- a clear break from some of the gangster stereotypes in American rap. The music is all conscious, with political and social change in mind, which is what inspired Herson to make the film. "Change is still in Senegal," he says. "And we hope that this film will help support the non-violent movement towards a more efficient democratic government."

Check out 'African Underground: Hip Hop in Senegal' below and find more free online documentaries at SnagFilms.