Zambian hip-hop artist Slap Dee’s newest album “Mother Tongue” celebrates women, love, Zambian culture and Zambian languages. It was released in 2020.
Slap Dee glorifies Africa in the song “mother tongue” featuring Daev. He raps, “I rise in an African song/sleeping in an African moon.” These lyrics insinuate the African ‘song’ and ‘moon’ are remarkable. Seeing as these two instruments are typically mentioned in romantic settings, they add an idyllic mood to the continent.
The music video complements this characterisation. It showcases ancient Zambian traditions where Zambians wear animal skin around their waists and live in beautiful green landscapes with accessories around their heads. It visualizes Zambian royalty and the respect that is bestowed upon them when they are identified. Slap Dee further includes imageries of local dances and ancient Zambian architecture.
Moreover, Slap Dee raps in diverse Zambian languages explicitly saying, “I switched up tulimbo to mother tongue” and “I will now rap into a lingo called Bemba.” His linguistic choices harmonize with his imageries and lyrics as they all honor local Zambia. They are influential because he is making the language ‘cool’ and therefore, more desirable to his audience. This act is revolutionary since Africans have been taught to view their local languages as dispensable.
Through these visualization, language and lyrics, Slap Dee expresses an appreciation for a culture often ignored and/or shunned in preference to more Western traditions and design. His acknowledgement of the beauty of Zambia and its people is in conjunction with the current environment that is beginning to value and practice African customs. This theme is noted in Beyoncé’s 2020 movie “Black is King” where she puts African civilizations on the world stage.
Slap Dee not only displays local Zambia but also today’s Zambia with his Western clothing choices in some parts of the video. The women further wear makeup and acrylic nails. This demonstrates the influence of Western culture on the country, and depicts how ingrained this culture is into the local culture.
Outside of his music, Slap Dee has been recognised by CNN for his social contributions like helping to feed street children in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. In his CNN interview, he states “musicians are like mirrors for society…” It is thus no surprise that he would pay homage to Zambia in this way as he knows the impact this video could have on the social landscape of his country.
“‘Musicians Are like Mirrors for Society…” — Hip-Hop Artist Slapdee – CNN Video.” CNN, Cable News Network, 13 Sept. 2019, edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2019/09/12/african-voices-changemakers-slapdee-zambia-children-hospital-orphanage.cnn.