How Jovi makes us bump to the sound of Cameroon

In world where African hip-hop artists are being accused of imitating American culture to produce their art, Cameroonian rapper Jovi represents the amalgamation of the two cultural art forms by producing a unique style that is distinct to his home country, but also carves out his own place in the global hip-hop scene. Jovi himself coined Mboko – a rising genre that merges Native African influences such as Bottle Dance and Makossa with Western electronic and hip-hop influences. In his video for Devil No Di Sleep, he lucidly showcases the influence Western hip-hop has on Cameron’s scene, but continues to represent his home country.Rapping in French, Jovi opens with a reference to Njangsa – seeds from a West African tree that are a commonly traded commodity – this pushes the song and video toward a direction that actively acknowledges the intricacies of his home country. The video itself begins with Jovi entering a church – a common imagery in African hip-hop, as religious symbols add a sense of positive direction to the rebellious nature of the genre. Here, we see Jovi integrate the basic elements of hip-hop into his personally molded genre, which ultimately bridges the gap between two distinct art forms to create a new movement altogether.

We continue to see Jovi pay homage to the basic elements of hip-hop, as he represents his record label’s (NewBellMusic) logo on his black hoodie and gives them a shout out at the beginning of the video. This is an important cultural representation, because he does not forget to include the locally produced talent in his rise as an A-list African hip-hop star. Coupled with his constant references to Cameroonian villages, such as Ndjoum, Ngeme, and Mbom, it is evident that he doesn’t forget where he is from. The importance he gives to his nation – as is expected from a hip-hop artist – is crucial in understanding Jovi’s role in transcending borders with his country’s unique sound. Ultimately, Jovi puts his country on the map by making his audience bump to the sound produced in Cameroon.

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