Many African artists travel overseas to places such as the United States and Europe to expand their careers and, sometimes, to live a better life. Some artists return back to their home countries to with new ideals and a new outlook on other cultures to implement into their own music. Liberian rap artist Christoph the Change uses both West African slang and African American Vernacular English in his 2016 song “Gbanna Man”.
The name of the song itself uses West African slang and is repeated through out the song. The term, Gbanna, is a West African term that simply means marijuana. In West Africa, marijuana is considered taboo by many and others believe the use of it is a western culture thing that African youth is trying to copy. Gbanna is used as a decoy for the actual term.
Christoph uses African American slang in his song alongside the West African slang. In the song, he says:
I ain’t no player baby/
I’m a cool guy/
Chillin’ in the crib/
Me and all my men/
In another verse, he says:
You know I gotta spit it raw/
She say that I should hit it raw/
The use of “ain’t”, “spit”, and “chillin'” are common phrases in African American slang. It can be assumed that Christoph has awareness of western slang and its appropriate usage. In my opinion, the use of both African American Vernacular English and West African slang in “Gbanna Man” emphasizes the taboo of marijuana in West Africa, and how it’s labeled as a part of western culture.
Overall, the song was executed perfectly. I definitely enjoyed the song, and I look forward to hearing more of Christoph the Change’s music.
UK-based rapper, Little Simz, chronicles the struggles both herself and her community face in the video for her 2015 single, “Gratitude.”
Little Simz, originally from Nigeria, connects with her African heritage throughout the video. She utilizes clips of student protests that took place in Cape Town in 2015 to further emphasize the abstract idea of struggle. In one of the clips, a protester is saying that “education is not a privilege, it is a right.” In 2015, students at South African universities protested against the increase in tuition fees and demanded that they be cut by at least 11%. In “Gratitude”, Little Simz says:
“Put my feet in the studio and call it my home
While others have got no way out/”
Continue reading “Little Simz Reflects On Her Struggles in “Gratitude” Visual”
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Liberian hip-hop artist Pochano discusses the aftermath of Liberia through his 2012 song, “Product of a Failed State”. In his visual for the song, he incorporates clips from both the past and present of Liberia, including footage from the civil war. The footage of Pochano rapping is shot in a run down hotel called “Hotel Africa”, and in the notorious neighborhood of West Point.
The overall message of the song is to place blame on the government for the conditions many in the country are forced to live in. In the song, Pochano says:
I’m a product of a failed state/
Yup, I carry the weight of the mistakes made by ex-slaves and the forefathers/
To emphasize the idea that the lives that Liberians are living is the result of a failed state, the visual has different people–ranging from adults to children–reciting the line, “I’m a product of a failed state”. These expressions reveal how much trauma and despair is left for adults and children to bare after the civil war destroyed their country.
What intrigued me most about this song and video is that it was more than just a song. The visual is a product of a documentary that was in the works at the time called called The Product of a Failed State-Liberia. This documentary is about a generation of young entrepreneurs in post-war Liberia. It also takes a glimpse at the recovery process after the war. Pochano’s “Product of a Failed State” takes on the role of activism by holding the government accountable for the way his people live. By using his influence, he promotes a platform for reform in his respective country through powerful visuals. I commend him for the video, and I definitely will be looking into more of his work.
Below is the video to Pochano’s “Product of a Failed State”:
In the era of “mumble rap”, as society has named it, there is a select few rappers who intend to keep the raw culture of lyricism in hip-hop alive. Continue reading “Kpanto Preserves Rap’s Raw Existence in Single “Real Rapper Come Last””