M.anifest’s video for “Coming to America” is a perfect example of an artist representing not only their country, but the Diaspora as well. The video is shot in different cities in America, and while he is embarking on his day to day journey M.anifest is wearing traditional African clothing, and jewelry which is an example of him staying in touch with his roots while being in a new place. He talks about having to work, so that he can send money home to his family showing that he is not only in America trying to get a better life for himself, but for his people back home which is very important in the Diaspora the concept of doing it for the collective is essential to the community. M.anifest once said that ” hip hop’s more recent associations with Africa overwhelm the deeper historic ones” so he makes it a point to incorporate American styles of hip hop while staying as connected to his culture as possible, and not letting it be overshadowed by catchy beats, and music that has no meaning. There are a few times throughout the video were he stops, and looks up or raises his hands. In those moments it’s like he is taking a minute to reflect, or even remind himself of where he is, and why he is working the way that he is. The lyrics and the video tell the story of an immigrant, but rather than focusing on the harsher realities of the experience M.anifest makes it a celebratory tale that reflects the experience of someone trying to provide a better life for themselves, and their community.
Female emcees in Africa are challenging the traditional roles of Women in hip hop while also changing the direction of the feminist/womenist movements through their lyrics, and sexuality. Different artists have taken different approaches to challenging these norms. Some embrace the power of hyper- sexuality while some shy away from it, and take a more subtle approach to expressing their sexual liberation.
In Eva Alordiah’s video “Double Double” she challenges many gender norms often inflicted upon female emcees. Her half shaved hair cut, and gold chains definitely make a bold statement, also her camo shirt and bright purple lipstick shows that she is somewhat neutral in her expression of her sexuality. While she is not parading around scantily clad she is still exuding a sense of femininity while spitting solid bars. Her confident delivery may be perceived as being un-ladylike, her wide stances and hand gestures are not typically viewed as feminine. Alordiah’s lyrics are witty without being raunchy. Her use of the rihanna sample of “pour it up” makes the song a nice mix between hard core rap, and a more pop vibe.
In Patty Monroe’s video for “High Fashion” she adheres more to the conventional roles of female sexuality in hip hop. She is wearing more form fitting and slightly revealing clothes while doing things that bring more attention to certain areas of her body. Monroe is very upfront with her use of her sexuality, her lyrics include many sexual innuendo’s which at the same challenges some of the gender roles that assume sexually explicit lyrics are mutually exclusive to male emcees. Eva Alordiah and Patty Monroe both challenge the traditional roles assumed for female emcees through their lyrics, and different displays of female sexuality. They go against the grain in order to continue to excel in their craft in a male dominated field.
South African hip hop artist Ben Sharpa, and American hip hop artist Kanye West are able to use their music as means of conveying similar messages while using different verbal, and visual approaches. in his music video for “Hegemony” Sharpa uses his platform as an artist to speak up about the issues of racial injustice that are being delt with in South Africa , particularly police brutality. In the first line of the song he says “why do we have a police protection service when their duty is to snatch me and the rest of my person” from the jump he is expressing his resistance and skepticism of the system which is often how hip hop was used in South Africa, as means of communicating these issues. The video is very simple, and adds to the overall message. A majority of the video is him in a dark space rapping while clips of police brutality are being shown in between verses to enhance the message. In Kanye’s video for “Jesus Walks” he addresses a realm of different social issues such as racism, sexism, religion, and war in America. He uses religion as the foundation of his message by using Jesus as an example, and actually saying his name rather than calling him “he” Kanye is challenging the social barriers of hip hop that were often resistant to the idea of speaking about religion in music. The video begins with Kanye in church, and as the song progresses we see clips of the different kinds of people represented in the song: Drug dealers, sex workers, hustlers etc. We also see clips of police brutality as well, and even illusions to circumstances that resemble slavery. Both artists although from different parts of the world are able to use their platforms to bring attention to issues that are important to them, and encourage resistance.
Keur Gui Senegal and Kokayi “Nothing to Prove” is an example of the social reform in Senegal, and how Hip Hop artists used their platforms to bring attention to this reform. In the first verse of the song he says ” Straight out the ghetto, our raps are nor for the sons of the upper class instead we spit medicine for those in real need. I think that this verse speaks directly to this theme of social reform, and specifies a group of people that they are hoping to resonate with. In terms of the visuals I think that the video is an example of “Doing it for the culture” which to me means putting on for where your from. Rather than an overly commercialized video with fancy clothes, and cars, and women it is kept simple and features them in all Black can represent strength, and solidarity as well as what looks to be excerpts from a concert, or some type of celebration that bought everyone together. The lack of extreme commercialization speaks to the authenticity of the message and the video combined, as well as the authenticity of hip hop in Senegal which may have been inspired by the progression of social reform their. The delivery was very raw, and the beat was simple so it did not drown out the actual lyrics. The fact that they are rapping in their native language also speaks to the idea of “doing it for the culture” and developing in your craft while staying true to your culture.
” War Ready” by Casper Nyovest a South African hip hop artist is an example of more “authentic” hip hop. His hardcore beat reflects the context his lyrics, and the story being told through the music video. In the article ” The Struggle for Hip Hop Authenticity and Against Commercialization in Tanzania” it talked about the importance of artists maintaining the distinction between elitism and self- preservation, this song is a good example of that because while the beat is similar to those that are often times heard in rap music by American artists it still embodies aspects of his own culture. His lyrics seem very genuine in the sense that he sounds as if he is speaking from a place of experience rather than just what would appeal to the masses, and by doing so he is making himself more relatable.
WizKid a Nigerian artists style of music is much different from Casspers Nyovest. While he has a traditional hip hop sound Wizkid is more of an example of a pop artist. His beat is very upbeat and provides a rhythm that can make you want to dance. His music may be deemed as less “authentic” because of the simplicity of the lyrics and beat, it creates a vibe that may be better suited for a party or club environment. Because of the lack of complexity of his music i think it would be easy for WizKid to be received by different audiences, and in terms of the separation between elitism, and self preservation i think that he does a good job of maintaining his culture, and genre while still incorporating some aspects of what is considered to be “authentic” hip hop. I think that both artists represent a clear distinction between Hip Hop and Pop music in Africa.