HHAP Episode 38: Keko on Hip-Hop V. The Politics of Sexuality in Uganda

Keko is a Ugandan MC and filmmaker who became involved in Uganda’s hip hop scene over than 10 years ago. Her career eventually took her to international audiences, in Africa and in Europe, and included a 2012 deal with Sony. In our conversation, Keko discusses some of the challenges she experienced while living in Uganda. Those challenges revolved around her gender, her sexuality, her international recognition, and her 2012 deal with Sony. We discuss the impact of patriarchy and homophobia on her ability to live and to work. Keko is now living in Toronto and is pursuing a career in filmmaking. Keko insists that she is not trying to be an activist, and is definitely not anyone’s “poster child” for gay rights in Uganda. However, Keko’s music, films, and her coming out are her unapologetically living her life. As a Ugandan woman, she is also using her own lens & perspective to contribute her voice as a creative.

Keko is on Twitter at @KEKOTOWN
Her film works can be found on VIMEO at https://vimeo.com/user85283017

HHAP Episode 37: Mohamed Benloulou on hip-hop, politics, & (Black) liberation in Algeria

Mohamed Amine Benloulou is an Algerian hip hop scholar & beat maker based in Algiers. This interview took place in April, in the midst of protests in Algeria calling for the stepping down of the president and his government. Mohamed spoke about the history of hip hop in Algeria, historical connection between Algeria and Black liberation movements in the US, the influence of hip hop in historical and contemporary social movements in Algeria, and the role of racial and ethnic identities in Algerian hip hop.

Mohamed also discusses research on the connection between the Battle of Algiers film and hip hop, as well as cultural diplomacy and hip hop, as well as challenges around hip hop studies in Algeria.

Mohamed’s Soundcloud page: soundcloud.com/mohamedaminebenloulou Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DJAMINE47beatmaker/

The episode features the song “Allo le Système!” by Algerian emcee Raja Meziane. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-ajCGiDlrg (w/English subtitles).
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/rajamezianeofficielleTwitter: https://twitter.com/RajaMeziane

HHAP Episode 36: Blitz the Ambassador on His Art, Purpose, & Representation

It’s been 15 years since Blitz the Ambassador released his first record, Soul Rebel. Since then he has gone on to produce 7 additional albums, start his own independent label (Embassy MVMT), produce 2 short films, and produced the feature film The Burial of Kojo, which was released on Netflix on the 31st of March, with Ava DuVernay and ARRAY.

This interview took place after he screened his film at the New African Film Festival this past March in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was great to sit down again with Blitz, 12 years after I first interviewed him for allAfrica.com in May 2007. Then, he was among the first generation of African MCs making their presence known on the underground scene in the US. In that interview we spoke about how Pan African his music was, and how lyrically, he blended elements of African and the Diaspora. His music has evolved into a showcase of African and Diaspora influences, including collaborations with artists from across Africa and the Diaspora.

In this interview we again spoke about the Pan African perspectives and sounds that continue to be present in his music. Blitz attributes much of his outlook to his upbringing, the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah’s ideologies, and his experiences in the Pan African Studies Department at Kent State University.

Blitz the Ambassador also talks about his experiences with the entertainment industry in the U.S., and how he has managed to maintain creative control over his music and film projects. In this sense, Blitz the Ambassador is vigilant about the integrity of his work, acknowledging the importance of representation, and of creating your own narratives.

The two songs featured in the episode, “Hello Africa” and “Internationally Known”, as well as all of Blitz the Ambassador’s music, can be purchased here: https://blitzambassador.bandcamp.com

Blitz on social media 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlitzAmbassador/
Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/blitzambassador/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlitzAmbassador

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