African Hip-hop and Politics: Mixtape Project

Just like other countries around the globe, many African countries continue to suffer at the hands of “politics”. There are many social and political issues that confront a typical African country. Issues including corruption, wars, human rights abuse, mismanagement of federal funds, poor education systems, illiteracy, and so on. These issues are closely similar from one African country to another; regardless of size, official language, form of leadership etc.

Over the past years, music in general (most especially hip hop), has been as a weapon to tackle, discuss and combat such issues. In the past few weeks, we examined many African hip hop artists, social issues, and the means through which they addressed such issues. In this project I have created a playlist with six songs which I believe represent some form of protest and/or combat music. These songs by African hip hop artists discuss the current states of many African countries in relation to some highlighted social and political issues. I tried to incorporate varying perspectives by selecting songs by hip hop artists from around Africa; countries including Kenya, South Africa, Liberia, Nigeria, Zambia and Tanzania.

I have prepared a mixtape using these songs which can be found here on SoundCloud. As seen below, I have also included a playlist with a compilation of the music videos of these selected hip hop songs which address different politics and social issues in Africa. In the youtube compilation, the first song is “Wajinga Nyinyi” by the Kenyan male rapper King Kaka, the second song is “Fees will fall” by Gigi LaMayne, the third piece is “Hypocrite” by Falz the bhad guy, the fourth song is “Bring our money back” by Mc Caro, the fifth piece is Tanzania by “Roma”, and the sixth piece is Hope by “Macky 2”. All these songs are connected because they have a general political or social theme.

King Kaka’s “Wajinga Nyinyi” which means “You are Fools” in English addresses the current political situation of Kenya. He talks about the corruption of the Kenyan government, unemployment, misappropriation of funds, social injustice, and financial exploit scandals. In one line King Kaka says: “Na story ya NYS tulisashahau, Biro Moja alibuy 8 thao, Biro tunanunuanga mbao? (And that we, Kenyans forgot the NYS scandal, She bought one biro pen for Sh8, 000 and yet we buy it for 20 bob only)” Here he was referring to Anne Waiguru, the Governor of Kirinyaga County. Although she was accused of fund misappropriation and money looting, she was not investigated nor punished.

Gigi LaMayne, the voice behind “Fees will Fall”

In “Fees will fall”, Gigi LaMayne addresses issues with the education system. This piece was a response to the increase of school fees by 10% in South African universities. As a form of protest music, Gigi LaMayne urges the youth to protest this change because higher fees mean less access to education. In her song she says the youth have power as she makes references to the past protests when she says:

“Our parents barely get away but they slayed for this nation. A black child would never ever gain emancipation. I wonder if king Biko would agree to this shit. The forefathers of our land wouldn’t sign to this shit…”

Hence, she is urging the youth not to ignore this development, but rather to fight against this decision by utilizing the power of the masses.

Falz addressed many controversial issues in this piece, and he also featured another artist, Demmie Vee

In the song “hypocrite”, Falz addresses issues including corruption in religious institutions, discrimination against homosexuality, abuse of human rights and so on. These issues are highlighted in the following lyrics:

“Who dey calculate, E no dey show the figure
Who dey demonstrate wey dem run leave us
People too complain but they fear to speak up
You don’t want to die but nothing to live for
Christian and corrupt no suppose be mixture
Real musulumi (muslim) no suppose dey thief jor
Real talk no be fight rara, everybody get fault for inside matter
We dey talk human right
We no fit respect am…”

From this we can see that Falz is talking to the people. He explains that funds are embezzled through religious institutions and no one is ready to challenge that. He also says that people should not discriminate against homosexuality because it’s not their business and at the end of the day everyone has their own fault in the sight of another person.

Fund embezzlement is a major form of corruption in many African countries.

In Mc Caro’s “Bring our Money Back”, embezzlement of funds is the main focus. She talks to the government as she says that they are not accountable for the aid funds that they have received. According to her, there is always some form of news that the fund is missing and none of the funds are allocated to the needs that they were meant to meet. She says that the people are still suffering from poor healthcare and the poor economy, and hence there is a need for change.

Conscious African Hip-hop artists are using their lyrics as weapons to fight for freedom.

Roma Mkatoliki who has been reprimanded by the government severally for his “overly” conscious lyrics, produced “Tanzania”; a song calling for Tanzanians to wake up. When translated, here are some excerpts from the song.

“Politicians are fighting for the presidential house with raw lust, words of their campaign is yet to come to the citizens…Racism and corruption in offices are obvious, they bought their certificates so they can have degrees…Buildings are falling due to engineers’ forgery, the Tanzanians are crying for the fulfillment of the fake promises…Religion has become a business and members of the church are corrupted…”

These lyrics explain different forms of corruption. It is known that many politicians make promises during their campaigns to get the people to vote, but when they attain these positions, they do not fulfill these promises. Also, recently there have been claims that many politicians have forged education certificates just so they can qualify as political candidates. Finally, from this excerpt, corruption in religion is addressed; which is an increasing social issue in many African countries. By pointing out these issues, Roma urges Tanzanians to be ready to take necessary actions to change this reality.

In the rap song “Hope”, Macky 2 starts by saying that he has taken it upon himself to tell genuine stories that will cause change. Here, Macky 2 talks about gender-based violence, abuse and the prevention of freedom of speech in Zambia; topics that many avoid. He said “I feel like I can use my music and my influence to talk about things that people are not ready to talk about”. He also addressed the struggles that many women face in a male-dominated society. At the end, Macky 2 says that he is preaching peace and freedom of speech and he wants to make Zambians strong. Finally, he says: “This one is dedicated to all the freedom fighters, I believe they never died in vain. One day we’ll be together, let’s fight for a better Zambia…”, as he urges for Zambians to unite and fight social injustice.

More about the artists can be found here: KingKaka, Gigi LaMayne, Falz, Mc Caro, Roma and Macky2.

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