HHAP Episode 29: Ghanaian Hip Hop Scholar Joseph Ewoodzie on Hip Hop in the South Bronx

Ghana born, Bronx raised hip hop scholar Joseph Ewoodzie has published the book Break Beats in the Bronx: Rediscovering Hip-Hop’s Early Years, a book that uncovers details of hip hop’s early years in the South Bronx. Ewoodzie’s book provides rich details of hip hop’s history in the South Bronx. In this interview he discusses his decision to write the book and touches on some of the major themes the book addresses. For example, Ewoodzie talks about the social economic environment in the South Bronx that gave rise to hip hop, environments that mirrored the environments that gave rise to hip hop in Africa.

In the interview we also cover the book’s

Discussion of the link between gang culture and hip hop
The controversies around Afrika Bambaataa
The rise and decline of the visibility of the DJ in mainstream hip hop
The connection between hip hop culture and Africa’s oral tradition
The connections between music in Africa and the Diaspora
South Bronx Ghanaian immigrants in the development of hip hop
The origins of the masculinization of hip hop
The book can be purchased at: uncpress.org/book/9781469632759/break-beats-in-the-bronx

Joseph Ewoodzie can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/piko_e

HHAP Episode 28: Politics & Hip Hop from the Children of Sundiata

This episode is a conversation with Malian hip hop artist and activist Amkoullel L’enfant Peulh on hip hop and politics in Mali. Amkoullel has been involved in hip hop culture in Mali for many years, and he’s been vocal about politics inside and outside of the country. Having lived in France and the United States, Amkoullel is back in Mali where he remains involved in the hip hop community. He is also involved in mentoring artists and working in TV and radio production and distribution in Mali.

A strong voice in Malian hip hop, in this conversation we discuss the political nature of Francophone rap in West Africa, specifically in Mali, Senegal, and Burkina Faso. Amkoullel traces how hip hop artists in Mali developed their own lyrical identity, based in large part on their own oral traditions and cultural identities. 

In discussing the past and current political events in Mali, Amkoullel talks about the roles of artists in social change and the importance of artists  representing the voice of the people when they use their platform on the international stage. Amkoullel also discusses the impacts of the media’s misconceptions of Mali within the country, as well as the impact of political events in Mali on Malian hip hop.

We begin the episode with one of Amkoullel’s early songs, “Farafina”, which was released in 2010. 

The next song is “Maliko”, which was recorded by several Malian musicians, including Amkoullel. The song is a call for peace and an end to violence against women.

Amkoullel is on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amkoullel_a.k.a._ez_ba/ 

HHAP Episode 27: Laura Lora on the Politics of Gender & a Ghanaian American Identity

In this episode we speak with Ghanian-born, U.S. based artist Laura Lora. In the interview, Laura Lora talks about her experiences an artist, navigating between Ghana and the United States. Growing up in Los Angeles has definitely influenced her music and style, as she talks about being Ghanian and American. Laura Lora, who majored in Black Studies in college, also talks about her experiences in the African American community, and with the divide between Africans and Africans Americans in the United States. 

Her music and work has also placed her in conversations around gender and sexuality, where she chooses to confront ideas on how African, or Ghanian women should dress and behave. In this interview she also addresses ideas of beauty and femininity, which she has also chosen to challenge. 

Laura Lora is very conscious and intentional about her music, and the messages she wants to send. She is very intentional about her confrontations with gender and identity. Her most recent video for the song “Rebel” blends hip hop, femininity, Ghanian ascetics, and American sounds and visuals. The colorful video is clear in its expression of all of these identities.

You can find Laura lora on:
lauraloramusic.com
SoundCloud @lauraloramusic
Facebook @Lauraloramusic
Instagram @Mslauraloa
Twitter @akaDeviantLady 

HHAP Episode 26: Hip Hop Studies at Black Universities in the U.S.

This episode is an African Studies palaver on teaching hip hop related courses at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The discussion focused on approaching hip hop studies from African centered perspectives, as well the impact of those courses being taught at HBCUs on their structure and content.

Leading the discussion are hip hop professors/activists who are teaching hip hop related courses and participating in important dialogues within hip hop studies.

Greg Carr @AfricanaCarr‏ Howard University

Tewodross Melchishua Williams Bowie State University

Jared Ball @IMIXWHATILIKE  Morgan State University

Moderator: Msia Kibona Clark @kibona Howard University

The event was held at Howard University and was sponsored by the Department of African Studies and the Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center.

Music by Sa-Roc: http://sarocthemc.com | @sarocthemc | facebook.com/sarocthemc/

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