Although I originally intended for this mixtape to have a positive and uplifting general tone and theme, the current climate of the world along with my past and current states of mind haven’t allowed me to compile a mixtape of African Hip-Hop based purely on good feelings and unity across the diaspora. Instead, I have put together a collection of what may seem like eclectically assorted African Hip-Hop songs, reflecting the ever-shifting mentalities within my own head while at the same time speaking to the general state of the entire world, not limited to the continent of Africa and also not limited to the current pandemic stricken world that we currently find ourselves in. The theme of this playlist, in short, is the ever changing states of the human mind, from the darker regions to the more joyful aspects of human existence.
- Rogue- No strings
My first feature on my playlist comes from the South African MC Rogue. The drum machine heavy track’s subject matter is one that the Hip-Hop world has seen a sharp increase in within the last fifteen years, the complete role reversal for female members of the international Rap community. Within the song, Rogue raps about her cavalier attitude toward potential male suitors, treating them as sources of food, fun, and sex without seriously considering them as true romantic partners, a sentiment generally reserved for male rappers when interacting with women. I appreciate her doing this, as for too long men have held a misogynistic grip on the Rap industry. I also relate to her general detachment from conventional societal expectations as a whole.
- Falz- This Is Nigeria
Based on the popular visual Childish Gambino of a similar name, This Is Nigeria in my opinion is a more scathing critique of Falz’s native country, as the subject matter within This is America only pertains to an already ignored marginalized group in the country. On the contrary, Falz’s hard hitting song speaks on every social and economic tier within the relatively young nation. The notion of a nation falling apart at the seams while seeming intriguing to the outside viewer is one that reflects my own reality and mind, as I have suffered from bouts of psychosis in recent years.
- Petra- I got that
Hailing from Kenya, Petra’s I Got That is a classic addition to one of the oldest themes in Hip-Hop, braggadocio. Petra parrots her doubters negative comments, knocking them aside with self affirming bars that prove she is unfazed by the negativity. I relate this to the adversity that all members of the African diaspora face on a daily basis, still surviving and creating in the face of what often seem like insurmountable odds.
- Kwesta ft. Wale- Spirit
Performed in Zulu with English interludes by Wale, the music video of Spirit is what drew me to include it in my playlist. I believe the dichotomy of life for many people across the globe is displayed well in the slow motion yet energetic music video. Ranging from dice shooting youths, a clapping church choir, burning furniture, to finally a large excited crowd centered around Kwesta and Wale, the many forms of life for people of different socioeconomic backgrounds are condensed and somehow easily related to one another, creating an almost flowing continuum of what is means to be a human on this earth, or as Kwesta calls it, spirit.
- Pochano- Product of a Failed State
While the previous entries on this list could be left open to interpretation, Pochano’s somber track highlights nothing but the dejection that he feels at the hands of his incompetent government, an emotion that unfortunately can be echoed across every corner of the diaspora. From the beginning, the lives of Africans on this side of the world have been products of nothing but mainly failed states, ranging from the formation of a racist imperialist America to the subsequent corrupted and inept governments of western black nations such as the islands of the caribbean. This systemic outrage at the failure of governments that should protect their people instead of hurting them is one that cannot be isolated to a few rebellious rappers or youth, instead it permeates into the lives of many members of the diaspora, whether they are aware or not.
- Ya Minko and Duke Walker- Masquerade
The subject matter of the Gabon born rapper’s song is one that speaks to some of the recent years of my life, putting on a mask to face the world. I became adept at hiding my emotional states, seeming to appear healthy and normal while internally suffering from different levels of psychosis at one time or another. I’m appreciative of the fact that more African artists are speaking up about their emotional states, as awareness can help end the constant donning of a mask that I felt socially pressured to do on a daily basis.