Posted in Article Review, Hip Hop References, Malawi, Tanzania

Language, Ideologies, Choices, and Practices in Eastern African Hip Hop

This is an essay written by, Alex Perullo and John Fenn which can be found in the book Global Pop, Local Language by, Harris M. Berger and Michael Thomas Carroll.  Since Hip Hop’s emergence in North America during the 1970’s and 1980’s, Hip Hop has become a global way for the youth to express their own local styles.  This is no different in Tanzania and Malawi, two neighboring African countries.  Both countries use English in their hip hop music, but Tanzania uses also Swahili and the Malawian youth use the language Chichewa.  Author, Alex Perullo, states that Tanzanian hip hop in English reflects American hip hop in talking about the pleasure’s of life for example, parties, friends, and praise of the artist.  Perullo then says that when the musicians use Swahili, the hip hop artist is usually conveying a message to the Tanzanian people about important social issues like lack of employment, corruption in the government, police brutality, and HIV/AIDS.  Tanzanian hip hop artists have stayed away from some American themes found in rap music like violence, because it is seen as disrespectful by the Tanzanian people.  Although English is the dominant political and economic language in Tanzania, it is only spoken by five percent of the population, so Swahili has become the most dominant language in the Tanzanian hip hop scene.  Many Tanzanian hip hop artists use American rappers such as Tupac Shakur to learn the flow of hip hop music and once they have acquired the skills they develop themselves as Tanzanian hip hop artists.  The creation of new words and the changing of the meaning of old Tanzanian words is core to the hip hop scene because this creates a common culture the youth of Tanzania are able to identify with.  In Malawi, English is all over rap and hip hop music, but it is usually accompanied simultaneously by the language Chichewa.  Much of the conversation about hip hop music in Malawi is done in English including newspapers, radio, and face to face dialogue, but the young hip hop artists of Malawi realize the importance of using the local Chichewa language when trying to convey certain messages in their music.  The Malawian youth see hip hop as having important social functions as well as a way to effectively transmit meaning.

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=AQWyMWVV9IAC&oi=fnd&pg=PA19&dq=african+hip+hop+music&ots=037afLgHMz&sig=e5bJUiYGJi4LUCzl9xTxKiU5jzs#v=onepage&q&f=false

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