“All representations emanate from a cultural system. So, while humans share many similar ways of processing certain cultural clues, our own cultural background determines how we filter and process certain representations” (Prophets of the City and Dustyfoot Philosophers, Clark). All of the artists in this playlist have used their heritage and upbringings to recreate what identity means to them. This playlist will showcase songs that represent this artist’s heritage and their upbringings. This can be through their lyrics, the beat of the song, the fashion, or anything that is specific to their heritage. The subjects for this project will all be African female rappers who are second generation and so forth. ShayBo, Tkay Maidza, Enny, Little Simz, and Ms. Banks will be the subjects of this playlist. All of these songs were released within the last five years and all these artists are based out of the U.K.
ShayBo is a female rapper from South London of Nigerian descent. For this project I used the song, “Dobale”. In the music video, ShayBo incorporates her Nigerian heritage by wearing traditional Nigerian outfits. Though the title of the song, “Dobale”, means “great respect” in Yoruba. In the song and music video, she incorporates influences from her Nigerian heritage, her upbringing in London and her influences from the states. Her incorporation of her upbringing can be compared to another female rapper I used on this list, Enny. Both rappers incorporated their influences from their heritage and upbringings in London.
Enny is a female rapper of Nigerian heritage from Thamesmead, London. The song I chose for Enny was “Peng Black Girls”. In the song, Enny talks about the women in her life and these women are not portrayed in the media. It talks about the negative stereotypes that surround black women. Enny combats this by showcasing women of all shapes and sizes and by showing her Nigerian heritage. There is a shot where Enny and the women in her family are wearing traditional Nigerian outfits. There are also scenes in the video where Enny and the other girls are wearing more casual, laidback clothing throughout the video. “Peng” is also slang for “awesome” or “good looking”. This can be another example of Enny embracing her heritage and also her upbringing in London.
Little Simz is of Nigerian heritage from Islington, London. Most of Little Simz music has a more modern hip hop sound. The song I chose for Little Simz was “Backseat”, which was released in 2017. Little Simz talks about feeling alienated from those around her. In the song, Little Simz says “All my life been the black sheep, All my life been the black keys”. This is an example of Little Simz feeling alienated from her heritage and also feeling alienated in the place where she grew up, which was London. Her music is greatly influenced by modern rappers. While she doesn’t incorporate her heritage like the other rappers in this playlist, she does talk about her experience feeling different from those around her.
Ms. Banks is from London, United Kingdom and she is of Nigerian and Ugandan heritage. Like the previous rappers, she incorporates a more modern style of Hip Hop and rap.“Bad B Bop”, which was released in 2019. The music video has a very girly, carefree vibe to it. The beat incorporates an Afro beat and it is heard prominently throughout the song. It does have more a modern sound and look that is popular among many female rappers now. But the afrobeat distinguishes itself from many other songs with a similar message.
Tkay Maidza is of Zimbabwean heritage and was born in Harare, Zimbabwe. However, she moved to Australia when she was five years old. Out of all the female rappers in this playlist, she is the most experimental when it comes to her sound and steers away from a traditional hip hop sound. “Simulation” was released in 2016. She starts off with a very sing-songy flow which is similar to a lot of modern pop songs. Underneath that is a very subtle Afro beat which is then infused with some electronic and pop influences. In the bridge, the beat does gradually get a bit slower and this is where she takes the opportunity to rap. If you were listening passively, you would think that it sounds like an upbeat song. However, the beat does provide some insight into Tkay’s influences. The subtlety of the Afro beat proves that while the beat is infused with other influences, it’s still there. This can be interpreted as her acknowledging her upbringing, which the other influences came from, but never neglecting her Zimbabwean roots.
ShayBo, Enny and Ms. Banks addressed it in more direct ways, while Little Simz and Tkay Maidza were more subtle in their approach. All of them embraced their heritage in some way whether that was through their lyrics or visually.