HHAP Ep. 61: An African Hip Hop Palaver

In this palaver, we have a lively chat with Ghanaian hip hop/hiplife scholar Dr. Nii Kotei Nikoi. We talked about the hiplife and hip hop music industry in Ghana, especially one of the country’s most popular artist’s Sarkodie. Nii discusses the structure of Ghana’s music industry, the way artists construct their images, and the role of class (and language) in Ghana’s popular music scene. We also get into an interesting conversation around collaborations between African and Diaspora artists in Beyonce’s Black is King project and the depictions of Africa in the Black Panther film.

Dr. Nikoi is an assistant professor of Global Media & Digital Studies at The College of Wooster in Ohio. He studies African popular culture, and has a special focus on how popular culture reinforces and challenges existing ideas around race, gender, and sexuality. His work is influenced by his background in graphic design and documentary photography. Currently, his research examines development discourse in Ghanaian popular culture. 

Check out his latest article, “Hiplife Music in Ghana: Postcolonial Performances of the Good Life.” in the International Journal of Communication 14 (2020): 19.

He also hosts the podcast Our Culture. Season 1 of the podcast includes reflections on a range of interesting topics.

  • Episode Contents
  • 1:50 The performance of material success in popular music in Ghana
  • 8:08 The popular use of Ghanaian languages and clothing in the Ghanaian music scene
  • 15:00 An analysis of the class divides and language choices in the beef between Sarkodie and M.anifest
  • 26:20 The participation of women in hiplife
  • 33:17 African scholars doing (hip hop) research at home
  • 48:03 I try to get Nii to take the bait and engage in the discussion on Nigerians “borrowing” music from Ghana
  • 52:52 Beyonce& the collaboration with African artists on the Black is King project
  • 1:03:03 Black Panther & the homogenization of Africa, and the presence of Africa film industry in general

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