Blitz the Ambassador: A True “Diasporic” Rapper

It is absolutely essential to mention Blitz the Ambassador when talking about and discussing African Diaspora rap artists and their influence on their own community and the Black Diaspora itself. One of the important things Blitz the Ambassador does as an artist is make sure to communicate with and connect the Diaspora through his lyrics. In his particular song, “Best I Can”, ft. Corneille, Blitz the Ambassador talks about his personal experience growing up in Accra, Ghana.

Throughout the entire song, Blitz makes connections between his experience being raised in Ghana – like growing up barefoot in the streets – to the general experience of others in the Diaspora / African Americans – like growing up listening to Rakim. Most Black people of the Diaspora, directly from Africa or not, most likely know a song, or at least have heard of the artist Rakim – as he is from the golden age of hip hop and contributed greatly to its prominence, success, and history. Because Blitz references Rakim, he draws a direct line, or link, to the African Diaspora.

In “Best I Can”, Blitz the Ambassador also communicates the line that “we never had much” – a line that is very quote-able, as this is a popular phrase in not only African American hip hop but in the Black community/ African Diaspora in general. It is important to note this line because it describes and emphasizes the shared experience of many people of the African Diaspora – that a lot of us suffer from oppression due from the repercussions of slavery, jim crow, apartheid, colonization, the taking of African resources, and so much more. These instances of oppression are different from each other, but not too much in the sense that they all contribute(d) to the social suffering, physical suffering, and even “mental slavery”, that occurs in nearly all communities of the African Diaspora. The important thing that Blitz the Ambassador does is create a link between those in the African Diaspora, telling us that we’re not so different from each other and that we need each other in order to achieve and create our own success. A good example of this is his song, “Best I Can”, but this is a central theme in a lot of Blitz’s music – which absolutely attributes his success, positive reaction, and popularity among Black people all over the Diaspora.

Female MC Takeover: Lady Leshurr’s “Queen’s Speech Ep. 4” and Dope Saint Jude’s “Realtalk”

English rapper, singer, and producer, Lady Leshurr’s style is one that immediately resonates with listeners on a lyrical level because of her ability to reference popular culture and rhyme simultaneously. The first line in her song, “Queen’s Speech Ep. 4” is the following, “I hold it down like a snapchat.” She is able to significantly connect to young adults all over the world that use Snapchat, because those youth know that in order to record a video on snapchat, one must hold his or her finger down on the screen. This is a small and simple reference, but, Leshurr continues this style on a very impressively high level. Following this very first line, nearly every line after has a similar reference to popular culture; including but not limited to the following: current news, makeup trends, and popular celebrities. Stylistically, the music video features Leshurr cuising the roads in street fashion while confidently addressing the camera.

The way Lady Leshurr walks, dances, and even raps displays her strong sense of confidence – which is essential in being a popular FeMC. s these titles of confidence, swagger, and cockiness were primarily only attributed to male rappers in the past, Lady Leshurr brings attention to the current state of hip hip and the ability of women to command through their rapping style.

A FeMC of South Africa, Dope Saint Jude, similarly does the same in her video, “Realtalk”. A remix of  YG’s “My N***a”, Jude raps over his hard beat and not only shows strong visuals that defy gender roles and norms, but even expresses herself and her sexuality (that also strays from the “norm” or average straight person).

In the video, Dope Saint Jude shows off shirtless men in the background, similar to the way male rappers often show off their “women” with little clothing in the background of their music videos. This reverses and flips the gender roles normally attributed to rap music, and negates the norms of them, therefore creating a new style. Jude is so original because she is not afraid of contradicting the stereotypes portrayed by rap music of the past (and present). Her line that reads as, “And I have five boys, and they all my side b*tches” only adds to this negation of the norms in rap, and is a testament to her ability to be original and break down the gender roles so strongly upheld by society around the world.

M.anifest – “Cupid’s Crooked Bow”

Immediately, M.anifest’s “Cupid’s Crooked Bow” begins with a smooth, African drum beat, fused with South African artist Nomisupasta’s unique voice – a kind of tone that is completely original but also, to me, sounds like a mix of Adele and Erykah Badu’s voices (especially when Nomisupasta sings in English). M.anifest raps in English, creating a familiar sound that that reminds listeners of classic, slow-beat American hip hip. Because of the elegance of his lyrics, M.anifest’s rapping style is a kind that likens that of American artist Common, with the way he describes and admires his encounters with a woman.

The video is in a pleasant high quality, and the images offer watchers a relaxed, night scene that includes an abundance of dancing and some drinking. The refraining lyrics in the song “There’s something special about you”, along with M.anifest’s nostalgic verses offer a sentimental mood to the song, easily making it an admirable one with its use of piano and occasional electric guitar licks.

The use of guitar makes “Cupid’s Crooked Bow” a song heavily rooted in Ghanaian music, because Highlife – a Ghanaian genre that predated hip hop in Africa – consists of European instruments and is especially guitar-heavy. Because M.anifest includes this in this piece, he is able to be a true representative of hip hop and decidedly remains close to this distinctly Ghanaian sound.

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After the 3 minute mark on the video (around 3:06, to be exact) “Cupid’s Crooked Bow” suddenly takes on a “trap beat” – something especially prominent in modern rap music, and very unlike the African drum beat that is present throughout the majority of the song. This is a profound artistic touch because by adding this trap beat, M.anifest displays the growth and diversity of African hip hip music – over the years – through his song (beginning with traditional African sounds and ending with a mainstream rap beat, used worldwide). As soon as this beat appears, a girl simultaneously appears in the video and begins to dance while holding a strong eye-contact with the camera. Her dancing is representative of West African dancing styles, and is therefore another significant cultural element of the video.

Watchers of “Cupid’s Crooked Bow” see and hear it all at once: the Highlife elements, the classic slow-rap style, the traditional African rhythmic beats, the West African style of dancing, and the Western music elements. They are able to identify all of this; and because of it; the song is sophisticated, easily admirable, and is an undeniably good track.

Miss Pru’s “Ameni” and Gigi LaMayne’s “Isgubhu”: Truly Modern Hip Hop and Pop

“Ameni” Music Video

When I first clicked on the YouTube link to listen to Miss Pru DJ’s “Ameni” music video; featuring so many artists like Emtee, Saudi, Sjava, Fifi Cooper, A-Reece & B3nchMarQ; I was pleasantly surprised to hear African drums and percussion implemented into the electronic melodies and beats of the song. The mere fact that this hit’s DJ is an African woman artist, Miss Pru, made me even more excited to listen to it – as I am a huge fan of woman MCs and DJs.

I truly appreciated the diversity of rapping styles of all artists in the song, and the mix of this intricacy with the familiar “trap-style” or modern rap-style elements (trap-style beats, electronic beats, voice modulation of rappers) of the U.S., absolutely made the song one to remember. The various visuals in the video, itself, makes the song (even more) distinctly African – with displays, actions, items, and dress that reference South African cultural practices – despite even the Zulu language primarily used throughout the length of the seven-minute piece. So, if hip hop should have its origin in the MC’s community, then all the rap artists featured in the song, “Ameni”, definitely adhere to this requirement of authenticity.

“Isgubhu” Music Video

Though Gigi Lamayne is rapping in this song, I would not consider the song as such. In music video “Isgubhu”, Lamayne primarily speaks English – something that is not bad (in the slightest) but is something more commonly representative of popular culture – unless a piece of music is coming from an English-speaking country. Though English is popular worldwide, it is not an African language. Therefore, Gigi Lamayne is not rapping for her community, but is trying to reach a more global audience by rapping this way.

Aside from this, the song itself is about shaking booties – giving the song a playful and fun vibe. As hip hop usually attempts to have the best rhymes, original sounds, and some sort of intellectual meaning behind it; “Isgubhu” stands out and strays away from those principles – making it less of a hip hop song. Pop music, however, shares elements from other artists, simplifies those musical elements, uses simple (English) lyrics, and strives to be popular above all else.

The beat in Gigi Lamayne’s “Isgubhu” reminds me of YG’s “My N*gga”, in the sense that they are basically share the same beat (but Lamayne’s song is sped up [probably for the proper booty-shaking tempo]); the songs even share the same exact key (E-flat minor scale). Since YG’s song was so popular, with over 225 million views on the song’s YouTube music video, Lamayne’s song sounds familiar, making it more likely to be enjoyed by listeners. The song is the same, but simultaneously different – like nearly every modern pop music. The way Lamayne talks about booties , along with her intonation, in this song also reminds me of Nicki Minaj and a number of her songs – yet another all-too-familiar aspect of “Isgubhu”.

In conclusion, we can better understand the line between today’s (or modern) hip hop and pop music. Because hip hop is so popular, worldwide – regardless of where you go, it is often difficult to distinguish what is merely pop and what is true hip hop music. Through this analytical review, I have identified that true modern hip hop attempts to be original and intellectually driven, while pop music strives to be popular above all else.