HHAP EP. 69: Industry Vet Buddha Blaze on the nature of the music industry in Kenya and Beyond

Buddha Blaze is a Kenyan blogger, podcaster, and music industry insider with over 20 years of experience. He has worked throughout the continent and the diaspora with artists and producers from around the world. He was a major part of the British Council’s WaPi (Words & Pictures) initiative, which showcased hip hop, poetry, fashion breakdance, and graffiti culture in Nairobi. He has also consulted numerous artists in the business and worked on several projects with international artists and producers.

A major figure in the Kenyan hip hop scene, he was recently seen on the Nairobi-based What’s Good Africa?, the only show on P. Diddy’s RevoltTV to focus on hip hop culture in Africa and one of the only shows airing on a US network to focus on hip hop culture in Africa.

In this conversation, Buddha Blaze talks a lot about the changes he’s seen in the industry over the years and some of the skills artists need to navigate the industry today. He also talks about his involvement in the growth of the cultural scene in Nairobi, which has grown to become the largest music, film, and contemporary art scene in East Africa.

Buddha Blaze is Twitter @ItsBuddhaBlaze and Instagram @buddhablazeworld

Intro and outro beat by Nigerian producer @teckzilla108

This episode is part of the special series that we did in partnership with Words Beats & Life. The series was recorded and live streamed with students in the Hip Hop in Africa class at Howard University and George Washington University.

HHAP Ep. 68: Edem, On Navigating the Music Industry in Ghana

In this episode, Ghanaian hip hop & hiplife artist Edem talks about the music industry in Ghana and the popularity of Afrobeats. Edem also talks about the presence of Ghanaian and Nigerian artists in shaping Black popular music globally, especially in the US and the UK. He also talks about how Ghanians have always done music according to their own rules, creating genres and trends like highlife, hiplife, and azonto; and innovating hip hop and Afrobeats.

We also talk about being Ewe and why language and identity are important in his work. Coming from Ghana’s Volta region, he’s one of the first hip hop artist to begin rapping in Ewe.

Edem’s music is a mix of hip hop, hiplife, and dancehall. He released his 1st album, Volta Regime in 2009, followed by 2 more albums and the recent EP Mood Swings released last year. Throughout his career he’s collaborated with several international artists, and has won and/or been been nominated for several music awards, including the Black Canadian Awards, the Ghana Music Awards, and the 4syte (for-sight) TV Music Video Awards.

Edem is on Twitter at @iamedem https://twitter.com/iamedem and Instagram at @iamedemgh https://www.instagram.com/iamedemgh and YouTube at @iamEdem https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXwdOmMKtY9-NXjDq-yqxYg

This episode is part of the special series that we did in partnership with Words Beats & Life. The series was recorded and live streamed with students in the Hip Hop in Africa class at Howard University and George Washington University.

Focus on Ghana: LGBT+ Allyship as Queer Work

We have featured the work of several queer artists in Africa, as well as the increasing number of artists who are allies. This video is

HHAP EP. 67: Yugen Blakrok on Spirituality & the Spectrums of Human Experience Found in Her Music

Yugen Blakrok doesn’t incorporate hip hop’s boom-bap style, she has no interest in being the Queen of SA rap, she does not do trap, and she is not interested in being boxed into someone’s idea of a conscious MC. Her music has been described as “a mix of sci-fi soundscapes & meditative melodies”. It’s definitely introspective and speaks to you on several levels. It blends references to places, times, & themes both inside and outside of South Africa and contains spiritual references that borrow from diverse spiritual systems. Yugen Blakrok was born in the Eastern Cape and later moved to Johannesburg, the heart of South Africa’s music industry. She released her 1st album Return of the Astro-Goth in 2013 and her second album, Anima Mysterium, which contains a cameo by Kool Keith in 2019. In 2018, she featured on the track “Opps” with Vince Staples & Kendrick Lamar on the Black Panther soundtrack.

In this interview, she engages in thought-provoking dialogue with our students who really connected with her music, which transcends a lot of boundaries. Yugen’s music does not just belong to South Africa but has universal messages that connect on human levels. Additionally, she spoke to us about being a socially conscious artist without the need to declare it, but being socially conscious by being it, not necessarily saying it.
The conversation is moderated by Mikal Amin of Words Beats & Life. We’re joined at the very end by Phiwokuhle Mnyandu, who teaches Zulu at Howard University.
Yugen Blakrok is online at
Twitter @YugenBlakrok
Instagram @YugenBlakrok
Bandcamp yugenblakrok.bandcamp.com

HHAP Ep. 66: Kanyi Mavi, and the cultural & Political significance of Doing Hip Hop in Xhosa

Kanyi Mavi is a Cape Town-based lyricist who is well respected for her creative use of Xhosa to create powerful hip-hop verses. She sometimes raps and vocalizes over Xhosa instrumentals, introducing hip hop to Xhosa culture in a way the really raises the bar. Her music also speaks to important social issues like sexual harassment, domestic violence, and drug abuse. She released her first album, Iintombi-Zifikile, in 2012, and in 2020 she released both an EP, Khon’ba, and a full album, Igubu Lam.

In this interview, she talks to the students about her music and the importance of bringing her culture into hip hop. She also talks about the use of Xhosa in the film Black Panther! She also talks about hip hop culture in South Africa, and the linguistic diversity in the various hip hop scenes across South Africa, as well as the impact of the industry on artistic creativity.

As one of the most well-known Xhosa rappers in South Africa, she takes the messages in her music very seriously. She talks about her views on campaigns around violence against women, in which she speaks to women and offers some very real ideas on keeping women safe, and alive. We also re-visit a discussion on feminism that we had during our first interview. She expresses her criticism of these movements and discusses the role men play in the fight for gender equality.

Kanyi Mavi also addresses national and global politics, and how in her music, her goal is to voice what is going on in the community, with her people. She also looks at the history of South Africa since the end of apartheid and reflects on South Africa’s relationship with the rest of Africa.

Connect with Kanyi Mavi’s work at kanyimavi.co.za. Kanyi Mavi is on Twitter and Instagram as @Kanyi_Mavi.

HHAP EP. 65: Sugar Emcee on the History and Dynamics of Kenya’s Hip Hop Industry

Sugar joins the conversations with students in the Hip Hop in Africa class from her home in Nairobi. She was born in Nairobi and grew up in Kiambu, just outside of Nairobi. After signing a deal with Phoenix Records in 2007, she would release three albums. While not new to the hip hop scene in Kenya, she is an underground artist who talks about navigating Kenya’s entertainment industry. Nairobi has been praised for going through what some call a cultural renaissance as the music and arts scenes are gaining international attention. Sugar talks about being in the midst of that scene and navigating that scene as a woman.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sugar_emcee/
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/sugar-emcee/tracks
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZQfC43VjtWIbvXVxYD-2YA
Linktree: https://smarturl.it/4yviic

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