Authentic vs. Commercial


Country: Sierra Leone

Artists: Kao Denero and Sierra Leone Underground Rappers

Both artists are categorized as hip hop artists or rappers. However, they have very different sounds which makes one question, is there such a thing as “real hip hop”? Does one qualify as hip hop or rap more than the other? The artists in both links all incorporate the three basic components of rap which are content (what you’re saying or the “bars”), flow (rhythm and rhyme), and delivery (how you present each bar). They all used key elements of what is referred to as hip hop, as well. Kao Denero used rapping and DJing, whereas the Sierra Leone Underground Rappers used rapping and beatboxing. The Sierra Leone Underground Rappers have a more raw and more “gangsta” approach, lyrical and also visually in terms of the video too. They’re speaking from experience, growing up in their environment and about how the streets of Sierra Leone are, while also praising their mother land. Their lyrics could be deemed as more negative, mainly focusing on their struggles and violence. The video itself is edited in black and white, perhaps to add to the simplicity of the video or to add it’s “grimey” or hard appearance and each artist in the cypher is rapping over someone beatboxing with no other music or vocals present. Kao Denero, on the other hand, is rapping about a woman he loves and/or lusts for and the title “Hakuna Matata” translates to no worries, which is fitting to the theme of the video. The setting is in what seems to be an island paradise where they are surrounded by beautiful women, drinks, they have their bikes and it appears as though they haven’t got a care in the world. The instrumental alone shows a disconnect, because he has a beat, instruments and vocals and is upbeat. Many would say that Kao Denero is more hip hop meets pop culture or that his music has been commodify, whereas, the Sierra Leone Underground Rappers are real, authentic rap artists. In my opinion, the issue is up for debate and I believe depends on the individual listening and what they consider to be hip hop. Both artists showcase many of the elements of hip hop, however, I expect Kao Denero’s song to attract a larger listening audience because it does somewhat blur the line between hip hop and pop. The Sierra Leone Underground Rappers are more “hip-hop head” friendly and probably wouldn’t attract the same crowd. The views on each video support my theory alone. Overall, I enjoyed listening to all the artists but personally I’m more about lyrics which is why I think the cypher was more interesting to me. Kao Denero’s Hakuna Matata is a song I would listen to for the music rather than what he’s actually saying, but both are still enjoyable just in their own ways

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