Diamond Platnumz and Mr Flavour Re-examine what Hip-Hop Looks Like in ‘Nana’

The opening credit reads, “Somewhere in Africa”, showing a well-groomed lawn, large home, or school presumably, and a classroom that could easily be transposed into American society. The clothing worn by the students is very heavily influenced by American culture, with large headphones, sports jackets, and elaborately jeweled outfits can be seen throughout. In fact, the first noticeably “African” element of the film is the accent heard from the first female speaker. There is a heavy emphasis on materialism in this video. From the gold watches and headphones, to the cars that Diamond Platnumz and Mont Flavour lean against in their solo shots, each character has a unique style that still manages to conform to a trans-Atlantic image of what hip-hop culture should embody.

Although the music video borrows heavily from American music videos, there is no question as to where this rap artist hails from once the music kicks in. The sound is decidedly, and un-ironically, fresh. The music is almost reggae, with afro-beat and Caribbean influences. The heavy base that may normally be associated with rap music is absent from this work.

The song also alternates between Swahili and English, with Diamond Platinumz staying true to his Swahili and Mr Flavour reciting his verses in English. In this way, the song honors the two national languages of Tanzania, while showing a bias towards Swahili. The presence of a featured artist is significant because Mr Flavour is a Nigerian artist who has won critical acclaim and fame across Africa. This shows not only an international collaboration between hip-hop artists in Africa, but it also shows that audiences are aware of rap artists outside of their own countries. The conversation that music allows between the two nations can ultimately have an impact on how Tanzanians and Nigerians view their relations.

The message of the video seems rather pure. The storyline is simple with the boy trying to win the heart of the pretty girl at school. Unlike American artists who may be more apt to show violence or negative imagery in their music videos, these two African artists opted for a much softer storyline. Individual and group dances is also prevalent throughout which highlights the communal elements of Tanzanian culture. Where dance and celebration are done collaboratively. Playing into this tender hearted experience, perhaps the most visually striking piece of this music video is the use of light and white throughout the nearly 4 minute song. Every internal shot is done against a white screen or sheet, and the outdoor scenes are done in broad daylight, with foliage and white stone as the backgrounds.

Aside from the visual borrowing of American hip-hop culture, Nana is unabashedly Tanzanian with its jubilee, warmth, and innocence.

Listen to Nana here.

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