Ngeke Bengimele which translates to “I Can’t Stand It”, is performed by two female rap artist, Ghanaian Stallion and Awa Khiwe (Zimbabwean emcee). This song, in particular, is a great example of cultural representation, as the artists use their own African languages and styles, in stead of imitating mainstream, American hip hop. This brings a great sense of authenticity to the music.
Ngeke Bengimele is a exact example of women in hip hop in Africa, using braggadocio as a way to assert their position, while simultaneously highlighting the struggles women face in and outside of hip hop culture. You see this in the very first verse of the song as Awa Khiwe asserts herself as a queen, despite where she’s previously been:
“Look, I’ve been around and l’m still here
I’ve been a thug but l’m still Queen
From the dirt but I stay clean”
Awa also establishes herself as the most talented rapper (“Blood on my hands, I’ve been killing emcees”) and threatens anyone to cross her (“Mfana kumic I’m a predator, try me I’ll bury ya and force you to carry your cross”), which is an super powerful statement. I also noticed a sense of vulnerability in her verses as she touched on (what I interpreted as) a history of sexual abuse or peer pressure (“Wathinta mina wathinti mbokodo Walinga mina wavusa mathongo ayi nayimihlolo, ayy”). I found the juxtaposition between vulnerability with a “don’t test me” attitude to be very unique.
Throughout media in general (music, literature, film, etc.) we see a hyper sexualization of black women. So artists and songs like this, that go against the “single story” of black women that the media enforces, are extremely necessary. It is refreshing to see female artist making a positive impact within hip hop culture, and I hope to see more throughout the whole diaspora.