Throughout Africa, artists use hip-hop both to describe their lives and to create shared spaces for uncensored social commentary, feminist challenges to patriarchy, and resistance against state institutions, while at the same time engaging with the global hip-hop community. In Hip-Hop in Africa, Msia Kibona Clark examines some of Africa’s biggest hip-hop scenes and shows how hip-hop helps us understand specifically African narratives of social, political, and economic realities.
Wale once kicked off a track rapping the line “allow me to introduce me, my name Wale don’t say Wally.” 11 years ago that was my introduction to him. As a new resident to the DMV area at that time the magnitude of what he represented to its denizens was lost on me. Only now 11 years later am I beginning to consider and comprehend a modicum of the magnitude that his identity as a Nigerian-American rapper meant not only to the American hip hop culture but also to the burgeoning hip-hop scenes across the continent of Africa and specifically to his homeland of Nigeria.
One of Africa’s precious artistic gift to the world is Angelique kidjo. Born in Benin more than 50 years ago, this African diva has been a pioneer for African women and youth. she is among the few African artist who reside abroad but always working to shade light on the issues that affect Africans. To support this and formalize the idea, she has cofounded the Batonga foundation. It is an education-oriented organization aimed at training young girls to take charge as leaders on the African continent. she is also UNICEFs good will ambassador.
For this blog I have chosen her song “BOMBA”. From the colorful African dresses to the stylish necklaces and the dance moves, you can see the representation of Africa in this video. The video emphasizes on the harmonious and happy life of African women that is often depicted in the media in the contrary. The way they move their bodies and the big smile on their faces tells you everything is going well in their lives. And the fact that they have made time to get together with their friends and dance shows a totally different representation of African mothers and women. African mothers are often burdened with the responsibilities of taking care of the household, feeding the kids and the husband as well, outside chores and such things. When I saw them dressed in the beautiful African dress and move carelessly, it felt my heart with warmth and joy.
Angelique kidjo has been nominated and have won many awards in the global stage playing African music. The time magazine once called her “Africa’s premier Diva” while the NPR called her “Africa’s greatest living diva”. All this recognition, but she remains true to her roots and people. she continues to tour the world raising issues plaguing the African youth. Please find the music video below.
Moroccan rapper French Montana arrived to the South Bronx in 1996. At the time he immigrated, the rap scene in New York was incredibly popular with heavy weights such as the Notorious B.I.G, Jay Z, Nas, and Mobb Deep ruling the scene. French Montana became enamored with rap, and decided to pursue a career of his own. While French Montana has resided in the U.S. since he arrived at age 13, his father returned home shortly after 1996, leaving part of French’s roots in Africa.
For his song “Famous” French Montana chose to return to his home country in Africa to film the music video. The lyrics for the song serve as a love song for someone trying to get back a lost love, with lines such as “Even though the world was meant for you / I hope you don’t get famous” and “Stay home with me/ Stay home with me/I’ll always love ya, I’ll always”. However, the imagery for the music video seems to have Morocco fill the roll of the lost love instead of a person.
Throughout the video we are shown scenes of a young boy kicking around a soccer ball in an outside compound. The boy slightly resembles French Montana, and it is confirmed that the boy is acting as him in his past life living in Africa when Montana is later shown kicking around the same soccer ball.
The young boy is later shown walking hand in hand with a woman through the market square. The woman is dressed in bright colors, and a traditional dress. I believe this scene not only a flashback to French and the deceased relative the music video is dedicated to, but it is showing that no matter where French Montana travels, he will always have Morocco present with him and on his mind.
While it is not commonly brought up in French Montana’s music that he was born and raised in his Morocco, he spends this entire video focused on Moroccan culture and heritage by wearing a traditional caffan and turban. At the end of the video, a dedication is shown along with an old photo of a young French and the deceased relative.
In the diaspora, there are many parallels across the aspects of culture. Whether discussing experiences on the continent of Africa, in the United States, in Eurasia, or in Southern America, there are commonalities of reality amongst people of melanin. Carrying this idea into the world of music, it is not surprising that music emphasizes the commonalities. K’naan is a perfect example of the cross-sectionalitey of diasporic experience. K’naan is a Somalia-born, Canadian raised rapper, poet, philanthropist, and revolutionary. After escaping from a civil war in Somalia, K’naan moved to America where he taught himself English through rap music. His experience with rap music influenced his diction and his perception of the community around him, as his repertoire included highly observant rappers such as Nas.
In 2005, K’naan released an album entitled The Dusty Foot Philosopher, which featured the song “Saboox”. Saboox is both politically and socially charged. Sabot is a Somali word meaning “to come out”. The song discusses the civil war in Somalia and the treatment of the citizens by the government.
K’naan’s verse begins with:
“Basically, I got beef
I wanna talk to you directly
I can’t ignore, I can’t escape
And that’s ’cause you affect me
You shatter my whole future in front of me
This energy is killing me
I gotta let it pour like blood, soobax”
The Trinity International Hip Hop Festival at Trinity College in Hartford, CT is the 6th to the 8th of April. The festival celebrates all FIVE of the hip hop elements, and brings together artists & hip hop heads from all over the world. See their event info on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/556633418027033
A discussion of hip hop studies at Black universities in the U.S., with a panel of faculty from Howard University (Greg Carr & Msia Clark(, Bowie State University (Tewodross Williams), & Morgan State University (Jared Ball). The event takes place the 20th of March at Howard University.
For more information check out the event on the Department of African Studies’ Facebook page: Hip Hop in the Academy (@HBCUs)
Trae Yung is a female rapper/mc who hails from Zimbabwe’s capital of Harare. This Female MC is not one to be reckon with. Her rap is about everything,life issues such as the problems people face everyday. She doesn’t just rap about life problems but about love,street life,just life in general. Continue reading “Switching The Game Up….Trae Yung”
Eyirap is a well known female MC from Accra, Ghana. She is extremely talented and her song “Rap and Me” makes sure no one forgets it. Eyirap uses this song to tell the world she is the best in the game and no one can tell her otherwise.
“I understand the game so always I deliver..”
“Take me to the war zone and I’ll face Hitler..”
“I’m business minded I have come to annihilate..”
Eyirap uses the lyrics above as a sort of braggadocio. She establishes her dominance and credibility by saying that she can kill off anyone with her rapping ability. Continue reading “Rap and Me”
2016 was the year of Beyonce’s Lemonade, Rihanna’s ANTI, and the maturation of girl groups like Little Mix and Fifth Harmony. Black women dominated the charts, producing music and music videos that allowed them to express a range of emotions, from angry to heartbroken, while exuding a sense of power, confidence, and sex appeal. In the same year that black American female artists embraced these powerhouse roles, across the globe another black female artist took note. Continue reading “Vanessa Mdee Subverts Gender Norms Through Color in Her 2016 Hit, “Cash Madame”.”
Witnesz Kibonge Mwepec is a female rap artist from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Witnesz is considered the biggest female MC in East Africa, and this is a title that she worked hard to achieve. She is regarded as an artist with ingenuity, complexity, and an amazing sense of humor. In her videos, Witnesz typically adorns traditional East African clothing, and she raps/sings in Swahili.
Prior to translating the lyrics, I just watched the video and listened to the lyrics. I wanted to see if I could get an idea of what the song was about, solely based on the images shown in the video. I paid attention to the setting of the video, the colors used, the clothing they wore, and the overall vibe of the song. After watching the video three times, I had the idea that the song was about a return to tradition. I thought this included honoring elders, ancestors, and Tanzanian customs. In the video, Witnesz and the dancers are having a celebration, or a chama. Men play the drums, the group does traditional dances, food is being prepared, there are dance circles, and a boy comes to meet a girl. The colors in the video were vibrant, and highlighted the colors of their skin. In addition to this, all of the clothing was traditional. This made me think that the theme of this video was a return to Tanzanian traditions and customs. Continue reading “A Return to Tradition”