M. anifest is an award winning Ghanian rapper singer songwriter. M.anifest’s song “Coming to America” really speaks to the experience of an African people coming to America. He begins by discussing the beginning of the diaspora and more specifically colonization when he says “ever since they came in the name of King James, my people been crippled and maimed”. M. anifest talks about how immigrants come by boats and planes, and while some come legally with passports and visa, others, that don’t have those resources, take the chance of stowing away to come to America, never knowing what will happen to them. The biggest concern that M. anifest iterates in this song is the need to send money home to support his family. This is big reason that people outside of the country come to America, for the economic opportunity.Another point that is brought up by M. anifest is the fear of police and police brutality. He mentions often that there is a constant danger of being arrested and going to jail in America. This, to me, speaks on how the mass incarceration system is an institution that oppresses and lingers over the head of all black people in America, no matter where they came from.
M.anifest in this video represents most obviously his home’s culture in the way he dresses. The video talks about the experience of black people in America, and there is nothing American about the outfits M. anifest wears. We can see the intricate textile patterns and bright vivid colors along with the symbols that are commonly found in this style of clothing. He accents the clothing with carved wooden jewelry, which is also traditionally African, and one of the necklace I saw had the Gye Nyame symbol, which is a famous African symbol that means “fear nothing except God.”
In terms of style and delivery AKA is almost synonymous with Jay Z in that their familiar rap patterns let you know that this track is about to be amazing. Meanwhile Drake has developed his own sound within Young Money under Lil Wayne and with a similar connotation to the naming of the tracks we can see that Thank me Now would be just as effective as Congratulate me. In Congratulate me AKA has to take the time to congratulate himself for how far he’s made since he started, Meanwhile, Drake in thank me now comes of as a little more cocky and prepared, thanking the listener directly and giving them ample opportunity to thank him for a song well done. While the topics are very similar, as previously dictated in the post, the way they give permission to give them thanks and a pat on the back for a job well done, couldn’t be any more different in their delivery. “Hold your applause, this is your song, not mine,” “On the bed, on the floor, now congratulate me.” The songs are also a critical look at self from Drake and AKA analyzing the lives that they lead up to this point in their respective careers. As can be expected of any performance art there are times that an artist can perform in front of 40 people or 400 people either way they need to perform as if they’ve packed out Maddison Square Garden. There is also the process of becoming a household name which takes not only time but proper preparation and relationships. Now that AKA can be heard on the radio as well as Drake, at least in the context of this post, you can feel the similar motif which is simply support and congratulate both artist on a job well done.
AKA – Congratulate
Drake – Thank Me Now
This post is dedicated to the comparison of two talented female emcees, from two different countries that share a first name. Nadia Nakai and Nadia Rose both speak on the fact that no one can step to them, whether lyrically or otherwise. With upbeat rhythms and fast rap patterns one could definitely draw a comparison between their styles of delivery and topic choice, however the visuals to accompany the video could not be more different. Nakai brought the b-girl aspect of hip hop to her video, whereas Rose’s Station is literally at a train station saying that she has the go. Station starts with a uptempo boom-bap pattern beat, and a song that would leave you understanding that she won’t be in the same position, space or even place as she is always on the go. Meanwhile, you cannot forget Nadia Nakai, nor can you get close to have the relentless flow that she professes to use throughout the track. Typical in Nakai fashion Nadia flaunts what she has and challenges anyone who thinks that they can step to her about it.
Meanwhile, Nadia Rose calls out fans who talk about her as if she wont talk about it to their face, and when they do reply they want to keep up and if it weren’t obvious at this point, they cannot. Even down to the more specifics of the beats that they decided to use for the songs are tough, as Nakai’s beat for Like Me sounds like a Swiss beats classic and, Rose’s beat selection sounded like a Neptune’s sound. The overall message trying to be conveyed as previously mentioned is that you cant step to these talented ladies with anything short of amazing. Both Femcees also defy the standard representation of what’s ladylike for an emcee, with the overaggressive crumping in Like Me, and to the aggressive styles in which she tells you that you can’t see her in Station.
Nadia Rose – Station [Official Video]
Nadia Nakai – Like Me
Bearing a upbeat boom-bap style Make you No Forget starts with an infectious, head-bopping beat and a hard hitting rhythm. Shortly after the song begins Blitz brings us in with the chorus, “Police Corruption, they steal the election, brutality my brothers don’t get no option, thats why you don’t forget where you come from.” The verse then expands on the concepts of police corruption and how the kids of Ghana back in the 1990’s were worried if they were going to grow up or not. Also, what made it hard to forget where you’re from were the myriad of 90’s references to tv shows, and consequently ended up referring to Roger Milla, famous Cameroonian soccer player, bringing where he was from to the 1990 World cup with his signature celebratory dance, or better yet referring to Ivory Coast goalkeeper Alain Gouaméné stopping Ghana from winning the 1992 African cup of Nations with an amazing save, which Ghanaians attributed to the use of JuJu. Starting the next part of the chorus Blitz says that “As the weather gets hot, and the cops get hungry for busting people, we still harbor resentment towards them, whether they like it or not. Next verse brings you in with the kids from the first verse all grown up. They reminisce about the Motown, where they went to school, Gari and Shito, which was a snack spread that was popular in the 90s that got them through, Night clubs for Osu, where they went to party with the wrong attire and subsequently wasted time going back home to change to get in, only to realize that they should have just stayed home because of the rich kids hanging around getting the attention of the party’s female populous. In short, the song won’t let you forget where your from because neither will the world, and in the song he is nostalgically reminiscing over the days of his youth.
Blitz the Ambassador – Make you No forget feat. Seun Kuti
Branco’s Turnt is what I would classify as a party song, as the song title suggests. While listening to the song I wanted to dance because of the contrast between a smooth and hard beat. Branco is direct in his lyrics and his message is plain and simple, he is living his life, working hard and making money.The style of the song reminds me of some of the mainstream hip hop in America, celebrating success. To my knowledge, many American hip hop artist come from a struggle or did not have the easiest life. It is very well possible that Branco is no different, as he raps about his daily llife of working hard and getting money.
Although the intent of the song was to be a “club banger”, I cannot dismiss the language used. Women were referred to as b*tches and vulgar language also had a strong presence. I am not attacking the artist’s word choice, as this is not uncommon in hip hop, but women are often objectified and sexualized in music and this song reinforces that. In this course, we discussed gender identity in hip hop as well as sexism . The culture of hiphop is the art of expression. The controversy surounding hip hop music relates to the lack of respect for women, the lack of concious art, as well as the presence of violence. In attemoting to disect the song, I got, live your life and care less about what others have to say. Turnt, put simply, was a song that was meant to be used to turn up and be care free. I think Branco did a pretty good job at tackling that. Because hip hop is an art for expression, the music you make should be represenative of what is important to you at the moment in addition to how you see the world. I think it is safe to assume that Branco is younger and therefore right now he is just enjoying life, as we all should. Stay Turnt!
“Turnt” – Branco
The song I chose to analyze is M.I.A by Sammy Vomits, a South African hip hop artist. The song begins with a period of straight rhythm, no words just beats. Immediately you begin bobbing your head. Then in comes Sammy Vomits, “They say I’ve been missing in action,” at just the right moment. In M.I.A Vomits addresses and denounces the rumors that he has been slacking, while those around him have been busy grinding. Vomits states that he hasn’t been missing but instead he is keeping his plans on the low. Yes, he’s putting in work but he’s not on scene stunting and flaunting all that he’s doing. This song is Vomits way of flexing on his haters: putting in work, by producing music, and still and still belittling his critics. While others are busy focusing on what all he is doing and accomplishing, he’s making moves whether they see notice them or not. I believe Sammy Vomits embodies all that in the delivery of his song. His voice is rough, harsh, and it beats up the track. Vomits is letting all those who ever doubted him know it is not appreciated. I am a fan of roguish, hard music so I really took a liking to Vomits’s song. I especially liked the fact there was a reason to the rhyme, his message served a person. Sammy Vomits did not just wake up one day and decide to brag about all that he’s accomplished, he woke up one day and decided enough was enough. It’s time they know what I’ve accomplished, time they know that I’ve been putting in work. I believe sometimes is to speak your truth when so many of peers believe otherwise. I also believe that’s what hip hop is for, for black people to speak their truth.
The power of women on the hip hop scene is growing each day in Africa. Female hip hop artist often struggle to get there music and art pushed into the mainstream of a genre that has been historically male dominated. I believe this is the reason that these women are producing more revolutionary hip hop art. Two artist that have made particularly creative music videos are Little Simz, who hails from London but is born to Nigerian parents, and Patty Monroe, who was born and raised in South Africa. These artist show very different sides of the artistic spectrum in the themes they convey and hopefully this blog can give some insight into their messages.
Continue reading “Black Girl Magic”
Blitz the Ambassador. Just from the name you can get the feeling that this man is a well travelled, well versed rapper. Coming from Accra, Ghana he has been in the game since 2000 and has only grown deeper into his craft. Blitz the Ambassador’s videos are some of the most visual creative I’ve seen. I love them because they tend to tell a story. In his music video “Running” Blitz uses his video to speak on the topic of spirituality. The concept of the video is that you can run from spirituality but you can’t hide from it. The video reflect this message in the story it tells
Continue reading “Candy For Your Eyes”
“Tonight” by African American and Ghanaian artist Prince Kofi is the perfect club bop. As the song came on and the beat dropped, I could not fight the urge to want to dance. The beat rose and fell in all the right places to make your hips move with it, and the way Kofi’s melodic voice danced over the track only made me want to dance more. The song describes an amusing, eventful night that is centered around a tale of cat and mouse. Kofi asserts that he is in need of a particular someone, a need he plans to satisfy by the end of the night. While listening to this song I couldn’t help but picture a man and a woman in a club, both distantly lusting over each other while seemingly having the time of their lives. It made me feel like I was in the club, staring my lover in the eye, daintily asking him to save me from whoever it is I’m “enjoying” at the moment. The song is fun, lively, and describes the perfect weekend experience. It is the song you turn on when it’s Friday and your finally off work or out of school and are ready for for the surprises the night will bring. “Tonight” is not a “woke,” conscious song that speaks about social injustices, which is not outside the norm for Ghanaian artist. But, one thing I could not help but notice was the similarity to U.S. artist, which probably can be attributed to the fact that Prince Kofi is African American. Kofi’s song sounded like an everyday tune, something you hear playing on the radio or as you are browsing through department stores. It’s that feel good, get out of the slumps, and sing to the top of you lungs type of song.
True to the form of South African hip hop, Holy Key (Remix) by DJ Khaled ft. Kendrick Lamar and South African artist ShabZi Madallion, is an example of conscious rap. As the song opens, ShabZi Madallion immediately erupts, issuing a powerful first verse laced with metaphors and ill punchlines. Madallion talks about the corruption of prominent people in positions of power and how they are taking advantage of the citizens. But, he even discusses how sometimes it is not the rich and powerful, but merely are own peers who sell us out for profit or gain, yet in reality all they obtain is a loss a freedom. Madallion’s verse highlights many of the key issues that plague the black community. First, we (the black community) are our own worst enemy. In his verse, Madallion states “they breaking even with demons,” illustrating that greed is the seed of all evil. Continuously it us who send our own people to their demise, trying to increase our own social status. Next he discusses how those in power are manipulating and deceiving the people, which has in turn led to anger and mistrust. Soon, there will be no more obedience amongst citizens. Madallion acknowledges that the black community is fed up with government corruption and will soon decide to discontinue being misled and mistreated. Finally, ShabZi Madallion highlights how the churches are exploiting the black community, fooling them to believe they have their best interest at heart but instead are contributing to the success of the exact leaders that are taking advantage of the community. Overall, I believe Madallion’s verse was the best on the song. He made me really feel everything he was saying. It was powerful, real, and the delivery was impeccable. Even though his lyrics were conscious, they were still engaging and riveting.