HHAP Ep. 66: Kanyi Mavi, and the cultural & Political significance of Doing Hip Hop in Xhosa

Kanyi Mavi is a Cape Town-based lyricist who is well respected for her creative use of Xhosa to create powerful hip-hop verses. She sometimes raps and vocalizes over Xhosa instrumentals, introducing hip hop to Xhosa culture in a way the really raises the bar. Her music also speaks to important social issues like sexual harassment, domestic violence, and drug abuse. She released her first album, Iintombi-Zifikile, in 2012, and in 2020 she released both an EP, Khon’ba, and a full album, Igubu Lam.

In this interview, she talks to the students about her music and the importance of bringing her culture into hip hop. She also talks about the use of Xhosa in the film Black Panther! She also talks about hip hop culture in South Africa, and the linguistic diversity in the various hip hop scenes across South Africa, as well as the impact of the industry on artistic creativity.

As one of the most well-known Xhosa rappers in South Africa, she takes the messages in her music very seriously. She talks about her views on campaigns around violence against women, in which she speaks to women and offers some very real ideas on keeping women safe, and alive. We also re-visit a discussion on feminism that we had during our first interview. She expresses her criticism of these movements and discusses the role men play in the fight for gender equality.

Kanyi Mavi also addresses national and global politics, and how in her music, her goal is to voice what is going on in the community, with her people. She also looks at the history of South Africa since the end of apartheid and reflects on South Africa’s relationship with the rest of Africa.

Connect with Kanyi Mavi’s work at kanyimavi.co.za. Kanyi Mavi is on Twitter and Instagram as @Kanyi_Mavi.

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