Student Project: Hip-Hop artists use of protest and combat songs to challenge censorship in Africa

Too often people perceive the genre of hip-hop to be “angry” music. Across all cultures, Hip-Hop music is negatively stigmatized as loud, vulgar, and explicit, without any acknowledgement of its deep messages. People fail to realize that these songs are meant to serve as cries for help. It is essential for listeners to see past the intense voice behind the mike and recognize the place of frustration that the lyrics are coming from. 
The shared grievances among Africans have made the continent a breeding ground for lyrical outcry. In Africa, Hip-Hop music has served as a form of expression, activism and social consciousness. Artists create protest songs that highlight issues impacting their environments such as State violence, corruption, and poverty. In a similar fashion, some other artists take it a step further by producing combat music which puts fear in the hearts of their oppressors. Although overlooked, the intentional and strategic nature of the Hip-Hop genre, is an area worthy of attention. The podcast will show how Hip-Hop Artists from North Africa, Togo, and Liberia use their voice to deliver raw messages of oppression despite the struggle with government censorship and prosecution. Through the use of protest and combat songs, you will see how artists establish influence and catalyze change in their countries.

Furthermore, the podcast will briefly draw a comparison to Hip-Hop culture in America. The commonalities between the two places will reveal how people, irrespective of region, use the genre to make a call to action, by exposing deeply rooted issues. We hope that this podcast will debunk negative stereotypes surrounding hip-hop and shine a positive light on its lyrical power.

The podcast will feature the following songs: Warning: some songs occasionally contain strong language (which may be unsuitable for children)

El General – “Rais LeBled”- 2010

Elom20ce – “Vodoo Sakpata” – 2015

Takun J – “Policeman” – 2007

NWA – “F*ck the police” – 1988

The Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy” – 1994

(Introduction and ending song by Tekno – “Yur Luv” – 2018)

Work cited
“El Général, the voice of Tunisia, English subtitles”. YouTube, uploaded by Michelangelo Severgnini, January 10 2011,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeGlJ7OouR0

“Elom 20ce – Vodoo Sakpata (Official Video)”. YouTube, uploaded by THUMP, September 14 2015,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3g_ECtpM8E

“Liberian musician Takun J talks about “Police Man””. YouTube, uploaded by TakunJTheHipCoKing, January 11 2012,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrYieEMNKoA&t=506s

“N.W.A. fuck the police with lyrics”. YouTube, uploaded by MegaTuvieja, November 8 2011,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu6r7Yd_iG8

“Policeman”. YouTube, uploaded by Elton Djxman, February 23 2013,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqLS3tUPVjQ

“Tekno – Yur Luv (Official Video)”. YouTube, uploaded by TeknoMilesVEVO, March 21 2018,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d_jkY2444s

“The Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy” (Official Video)”. YouTube, uploaded by The Notorious B.I.G., September 6 2011,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JZom_gVfuw

Asawin Suebsaeng, “The FBI Agent Who Hunted N.W.A”, Daily Beast, August 14, 2015,https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-fbi-agent-who-hunted-nwa

Benjamin Lebrave, “This Rapper Is Defying Togolese Censorship to Tell Stories About Africa’s Political Problems’, Thump Vice, September 14 2015.https://thump.vice.com/en_us/article/wny3e9/this-rapper-is-defying-togolese-censorship-to-tell-stories-about-africas-political-problems

Clark, Msia Kibona. (2012). Hip hop as social commentary in Accra and Dar es Salaam. African Studies Quarterly, 13 (3), 23-46.

Olivier Morrison, “Turn That Down! 40 Banned and Censored Songs”, National Coalition Against Censorship, March 3 2015,http://ncac.org/blog/turn-that-down-40-banned-and-censored-songs

Vivienne Wait, “El Général and the Rap Anthem of the Mideast Revolution”, TIME, Tuesday February 15, 2011http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2049456,00.html


Continue reading “Student Project: Hip-Hop artists use of protest and combat songs to challenge censorship in Africa”

When Cameroonian slang meets African Hip-Hop

Stanley Ebai Enow is a Cameroonian rapper, radio and TV presenter, and voice actor. He is the co-owner of the record label, Motherland Empire.

Born in Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest Region of Cameroon, with family from Bayangi, located in the Southwest Region, Stanley Enow’s nickname “Bayangi Boy” reflects the importance regional origins for the young rapper. Coming from the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, Stanley Enow chose to rap in Cameroonian Pidgin English and Cameroonian slang as a way to translate his culture in his music. Continue reading “When Cameroonian slang meets African Hip-Hop”

Ugandan Kween

Who is Kween G? In her new song “Who am I” posted on her Soundcloud in September 2017, the female artist gives an interesting mixing to her followers. She refers to two essential components of her life: her African origins and her desire to assert herself in a life that has not always been easy.

According to her interview with Miss Hennessey speaks blog, Kween G Kibone’s name is composed of the letter G from Goddess and of the word Kween for Kibone, named after her grandmother. The hip-hop female artist was born in the Bugisu tribe in Uganda and raised in Australia since the early 1990s. Since the early 2000s Kween G occupies the Australian hip-hop scene with powerful and engaged songs. In 2010 she was honored Young Citizen of the Year by Marrickville Council (Sydney). She is currently maintaining a high level of community work especially with young girls and indigenous people in Australia. Continue reading “Ugandan Kween”

No worry about Askia

Hoarse voice, open sexuality and disclosure of the body in rather explicit movements, blended with hip-hop masculinity, are the essential elements of Cameroon hip-hop female artist Askia’s video No Worry Me. In this 2015 video, Askia embraces a traditional representation of women in hip-hop: the fearless woman. As stated in a 2015 interview for Kamer Kongosa, Askia does not care about anything or anybody who has something to say about her art. She is “doing her” and she knows “it is hip-hop” and this is how it works. Continue reading “No worry about Askia”

33 sins of Paul Biya

bamenda-valsero-640x336
On November 6 2018 President Paul Biya of Cameroon, will celebrate his 36 years of presidency.
According to his website Général Valsero “sees himself as a political rapper, who attacks and denounces the way the president Paul Biya runs his country, Cameroon”. This description is accurate when analyzing the lyrics and the video of rap song “Motion de soutien”. 

Continue reading “33 sins of Paul Biya”

Jovi, proud B.A.S.T.A.R.D from Cameroon

Bastard: informal, an unpleasant or despicable person”. According to the Oxford English dictionary, a Bastard is a contemptible person. Anyone should be ashamed to be called a Bastard. Yet, Jovi, 34 years old Cameroon rapper sings his pride of being a “B.A.S.T.A.R.D” in his 2014 single featuring singer Reniss. In fact, Bastard in Pidgin (dialect of the song) means “cool”, “great” or even “fantastic”. It is in this Cameroonian English-based creole (also known as Kamtok, from “Cameroon-talk”) that the rapper expresses his resistance facing harsh living conditions, as a young urban man, echoing numerous African “Bastards”. Continue reading “Jovi, proud B.A.S.T.A.R.D from Cameroon”