Boity – Own your Throne – South Africa
Nadia Nakai – Amai – South Africa
Gigi LaMayne – Fees Will Fall
South African Female Rappers
Starting at an early age, black girls are held back from expressing themselves due to stereotypes and gender norms placed onto them. They are discouraged from wearing certain clothing to avoid being labeled as “fast” or “too grown.” Their creative expression is hindered by society hypersexualizing them or accusing them of being violent. Female african rap artists across the continent are combating these ideas through their lyrics and expressions. In this paper, I will be looking at 3 strong South African rappers, who each find ways to uplift and inspire their young female listeners. Here is an amazing mixtape, featuring some powerful African women who defeat the odds through their music and image.
South African artist, Boity, is a female rapper who does not stray away from embracing herself. In her song “Own Your Throne”, she defines herself as a queen whose hard work led her to the success that she has today. Throughout the song, she encourages her female listeners to embrace the queen within them and to prosper on their own. The lyrics, “I wear the crown with all my queens” and “to all my sisters gettin’ paper, what you workin with?”, shows how she motivates women who are listening. The song closes out with her mother speaking in english and her native language, inspiring women to own their throne and walk with an army of warriors. These words can be used to encourage insecure African girls who feel belittled by society and people around them. Society expects women to rely on men to make money for the family, and for women to take care of the home and children. These ideals have pushed women back from progressing within the workforce, making them financially dependent on their spouses. Songs such as this one, may inspire these girls to never let anyone hold them back from their success.
South African rapper, Nadia Nakai, pays tribute to her mother who was a strong figure in her life in the song “Amai”. The song recounts Nadia’s rough childhood in the hood, where she was raised by only her mother. Nadia talks about how it was hard being not only black, but also a woman, in the streets and while making music. She talks about defying the odds by not becoming a drug dealer or staying on the streets, despite growing up there. At the end of the song, she gives thanks to her “Amai”, the word for mother in Shona, through the lyrics “Still the queen I’ve been the crown, And my queen has always been around.” This is yet another example of black women supporting other women and how it is necessary for the community to stick together. It is hard to stay confident in a world that attempts to make black women feel insecure, that is why motherly figures are important. It also shows that despite her father walking out of the picture, she was still able to succeed and do great things. This goes against the African family structure that puts men at the top as the breadwinners and supporters of the family. It shows that they are not needed for a woman to be successful and that woman can do anything that men can do and better.
Gigi LaMayne defies the odds of being a woman, by being a great leader and activist. She does this through her song “Fees Will Fall,” which centers around the 2015 South African student-led protests against rising university prices. Gigi Lamayne challenges the system placed by the government by encouraging students to protest against the injustices. Black women have been seen in the front of revolutions in numerous cases due to the oppression that we face not only as women, but as black people. Gigi defines what it means to be a powerful black woman by risking her career through this political song. Gigi encourages her listeners through lyrics such as, “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are” and “There can’t be any large scale revolution, until there is an individual revolution”. Through these lyrics, she inspires her listeners to stand up for what they believe in and seek the freedoms they deserve. This is a powerful message to send to young impressionable South African students, who may feel defeated by the system. Like the other women in this paper, she shows how strong South African women are despite going through a struggle.
These songs, rapped by powerful South African women, have inspired thousands with their lyrics. By encouraging women to define their own success, to inspire each other as women, and to stand up for what they believe in, the rappers are able to insight a newfound confidence within their leaders. Society has placed pressures on women and young girls that insights insecurities and keeps them from their full potential. This is why it’s important for female rappers to use their platforms to change this narrative and encourage women to be all they can be.