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.
Hip hop, music genre developed in the 1970s by inner-city African Americans from the Bronx, New York city, consists of conscious lyrics which often bluntly address social, political, or economic issues. The nature of hip hop is explicit, authentic, and genuine, and now after decades of diffusion and cultural spreading, the art form perseveres to survive even in areas where censorship and limitation of expression run deep. On April 6th 2018, during the Panel Discussion: “Free Speech, Censorship and Protest” at the 13th Trinity International Hip Hop Festival, Howard University’s Dr. Msia Kibona Clark moderated a group of hip hop artists from all over the world who discussed the condition of media censorship of hip hop in the realm of social change and political discourse.
Dana Burton, a hip hop pioneer and influencer in China asserts that the supposed ban on hip hop in China was simply “fake news.” Burton went on to explain the reaches of Chinese censorship, exemplifying the Chinese ban on the ‘Free Tibet movement.’ In summary, anything that violates national integrity remains off limits in China. For example, videos which include the Tibet flag are banned and individuals are forbidden from using the word ‘Tibet’ in public or media settings.
Another panelist, MC Puos is a hip hop journalist who cofounded china’s first hip hop magazine, Bang. He discussed his upbringing in Detroit and referenced his understanding of words, communication, and censorship, and the unspoken rule of limited self-expression as a youth. A person could lose their life by saying the wrong thing to the wrong person: a realization that showcased the strength of words.
Panelist Emile YX?, a journalist, author, playwright, b-boy, and member of Black Noise, (one of the first hip hop groups in South Africa) discussed the current censorship is South Africa. As a solution to the suppression of black voices in South African Media, YX? proposed that black people create their own markets and industries. His project, Heal the Hood focusses on dismantling the Eurocentric monopolization of the capitalist society by supporting our own businesses. Overall the event was an enlightening intellectual experience.
Jovi’s street anthem Et P8 Koi (So What?) shows the use of Cameroonian language in hip-hop as means of depicting identity in a globalized music industry. Jovi is known to put out “multilingual bangers” with backing tracks from various musical disciplines. The creativity in production is mirrored by his dynamic lyricism that transcends cultural and musical boundaries. He raps in French and English – languages inherited from former colonists – to “bridge the gap that exists between anglophones and francophones” in Cameroon. Note that the French and English in the song don’t entirely mirror that of Europe, but rather include Cameroonian slang and dialects – known as Camfranglais, the mix of French and English native to Cameroon – which makes the music more representative of the Cameroonian identity. Continue reading “Surprise! Another blog bout Jovi”
The song BRKN LNGWJZ by FOKN Bois is a song that really embodies the discussion revolving around the use of different languages in social settings. FOKN Bois is a Ghanaian rap group that consists of Wanlov the Kubolor and M3nsa. In this song, Wanlov and M3nsa talk about what makes them who they are and what things are important to their identity. Throughout the song they rap in english as well as simultaneously using a dialect of english, Twi (a dialect spoken in Ghana) words. The use of language in this song is to aid them in revealing their identities. Continue reading “Dialects of Hip-Hop”
Nowadays, it seems like it is so easy to reach stardom; and in some cases it is! Let’s be honest, living in the digital age has left so many chances to become rich and famous. Two things are for certain: if it’s Hip Hop in anyway, you can go viral, if it is a child showing their talents, you can go viral. Continue reading “Dizmo, a New Zambian Star”
The 13th annual Trinity International Hip Hop Festival was focused on censorship and activism when it comes to hip hop on a global scale. Aside from great performances and artwork from international acts, there were also discussions and panels catered to the overall theme of protest, free speech empowering the youth around the world. One panel in particular that was very engaging was the discussion on “Free Speech, Censorship and Protest” which featured MC Puos and Dana Burton from China and Emile YX from South Africa on the panel that moderated by Dr. Msia Clark herself. Continue reading “Trinity Hip Hop Festival 2018 Panel Discussion: “Free Speech, Censorship and Protest” Recap”
It’s been about a year since Wale has released his 6th studio album SHINE and one of his main singles “Fine Girl” still resonates with me. I love the song so much because the Nigerian-raised artist really represents his roots here. The term “fine girl” is often used in Nigerian and other African cultures to describe a beautiful woman. Wale definitely has ‘endless fine girls’ in his video as it is filled with myriad beautiful women from the Diaspora in a variety of shades and sizes wearing Ankara attire, showing off their killer dance moves as they wave their flags from Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Liberia and other African countries. Continue reading “One Year Later: Wale’s “Fine Girl” is Still a Hit!!”
The Hip-Hop industry, like many others within patriarchal societies, remains male-dominated. However, the growing presence of talented female artists who challenge and question the status quo and defy gender roles with their lyrics lends hope to a future of non-gender-biased music. Sarona Motlhagodi, more popularly known as her stage name, Sasa Klaas, is a hip-hop star from Botswana who embraces her femininity and sexuality, while dispelling negative or limiting conceptions about women. Continue reading “Exploring Lyrical & Artistic Feminism: Botswana’s Hip-Hop Star, Sasa Klaas”
Although many understand hip-hop as simply a music genre consisting of rap and electronic beats, in actuality, hip-hop is an urban art form that depicts reality in the form of skillful lyricism designed to expose social issues and produce political change. The candid nature of hip-hop propels artists to shed light on pressing issues, and challenge, chastise, or address society’s shortcomings. Botswana’s Lebo Tsiako, more popularly known by her stage name, Enigma, is a talented hip-hop artist and emcee who both confronts and defies the stereotypes and prejudices which are embedded into a male-dominated society. Continue reading “Botswana’s Hip-hop Star, Enigma Pushes for Social Change”
In the 1970s, Bronx, New York, a city heavily saturated with people of color birthed a vibrant and meaningful underground movement of conscious rap, now known as ‘hip-hop.’ Decades later the movement has spread throughout the globe, mixing and meshing with different cultures and creating lively lyrical art all over the world. African hip-hop is a particularly unique fusion of cultures, harmonizing the African-American culture which retains heavy African influences with the African narrative. Botswana’s very own Apollo Diablo portrays hip-hop culture in his music, all the while representing his own Botswanan culture and celebrating his roots. Continue reading “Apollo Diablo’s ‘Rep Ur Hood,’: Representing Botswana and Hip-Hop Culture”