M.anifest is an African hip hop artist from Ghana. Upon examining his song Coming to America, I cannot help but to think of the American Dream. M.anifest, an African man, is no different than any other person in America. The idea of wealth and prosperity are globally revered. The song’s title in itself sheds light on the meaning of the song. The concept behind the song is the tradition of Africans “coming to america” and leaving their family behind to seek wealth for the family. The video displays differnt American symbols such as, fireworks, the black power fist, and prayer hands. I believe this is key to show how coming to America, the set standards and beliefs are what he is expected to assimilate to. M.anifest says, ” I’m going, I’m coming, what tomorrow holds, nobody knows”. I believe this line is pertinent in the message that America provides a sense of hope. The video also shows people of all races with signs that say welcome. This sends the message that America is welcomed to all people. M.anifest also repeats, “make sure my kid don’t grow up broke”. Many people seek wealth to establoish an easier life for their family, as money is a source of power and status.
M.anifest’s music holds the Diaspora of hip hop through storytelling. The song tells of a tradition in Africa and the perspective he has on going/coming to America. His perception is one based on the image given to America, one of hope for the future and the ability to achieve the American Dream. Hip hop music generally seeks to bring about change in relation to a certain issue, but I feel otherwise when hearing this song. I believe M.anifest’s music is more so used an avenue for personal expression that provides a sense of relatanbility. Coming to America, is a different kind of hip hop. M.anifest’s music is hopeful rather than the usual rebellious and hard culture surrounded around hip hop.
Lady Leshurr is an English rapper, singer, and producer. Lady Leshurr’s Queen Speech 4 video, from her Queen Speech series, went viral this past year. A native of the United Kingdom, Lady Leshurr breaks down the barriers set for most female rappers. It is expected, by society, that women must be sexualized and succumb to the shadow of the male when it comes to hip hop. The concept of hip hop is hardcore, rebellious, and confident; nearly everything a woman is not portrayed as in the media. Throughout the video, Lady Leshurr is the main image in the camera walking down the middle of the street as she raps. This sheds light on Lady Leshurr’s immense confidence. Her lyrical content emphasizes this as she indeed confident and has the ability to switch between short and funny bars to bars that must be built upon and might pick your brain a bit. The various pop culture references lead me to believe her intended audience may be Americans, otherwise these references would not hold much weight. Her style is a bit on the feminine side, but she adds a masculine touch with her backwards snap back and boxer briefs. I believe her video message was that she is a confident woman who likes to have fun and knows she’s the sh*t.
In contrast to Lady Leshurr, Dope Saint Jude is a rapper and producer from Cape Town, South Africa. Dope Saint Jude’s Realtak, to me, is less about braggadocio and more about social issues. Dope Saint Jude is a member of the LGBTQ community, but she still has a shirtless man in the video. This shows her acknowledgement of the hip hop culture having a problem with sexualizing females in music videos. The scene with the shirtless male looks like it’s the “cool” scene because this is what society expects. On the other hand, the scene with the females are in her room. I took this as a symbol of her comfortability around women and how homosexuality is to be kept private. Aside from the video aesthetics, Dope Saint Jude is also a lyricist. She makes a statement about the problems that come with her skin complexion, as she is neither accepted by the white people or black because they do not feel she identifies with them. Like Lady Leshurr, Dope Saint Jude, shows her attention to American society by using the beat from the song My N*gga My N*gga by YG, an American rapper.
Gaston’s Bay Jëwriñ music video was very hardcore. I felt like I understood his intent without hearing his message. The video concentrated on the artist’s face and the entourage in the video , which leads me to believe that attention grabber was the message he was delivering.His delivery made me believe that he was passionate about what he was saying. The video stood out to me because unlike many famous hip hop artist, it gave no attention to materialism, instead the setting was rough to to match his hardcore lyrics.
Gaston, from Senegalese, not only speaks french, but actually went to live in France with his mother. I read it was there he was introduced to Hip Hop, before he returned to Senegal. Through research I was also very pleased to find out that since the start of Gaston’s music career he has had a sort of political agenda. In a biography post written on Gaston, he stated he believed, “The world is in a state of moral, spiritual, and social crisis.” He even dedicated an album that focused on issues present in the Senegalese community. I believe that Gaston’s early exposure to the music world along with the perspective he may have acquired from living in France for a few years enabled him to be the artist he is. I am reminded of the New Type of Senegalese as Gaston is also seeking to change the mentality of those who listen to his music. Gaston being a mainstream artist comes to no surprise as the Senagal rap culture is to be conscious, as he is.
After listening to the song a couple times, African Hip Hop artist eMTee’s song “We Up” in my opinion was on the outskirts of the being a commercialized hip hop song. The artist rapped about his status, as he has come up in the world of hip hop. I feel as though this song would be a great song to input into NBA’s 2k, a short film, or even a cinematic film. I like how the artist incorporated his Native language with the English language, this to me Americanized the song, while keeping it’s original roots intact. The video portrayed visuals of families, friends, low income neighborhoods, and a bit of hope and happiness toward the new way of life for the artist and video’s main character. In comparison, African pop star D’banj, had a more romantic feel to his song. Like eMTee , D’banj kept his African roots in his music by having African rhythms in his music. I enjoyed both songs and feel as though they resemble hip hop and pop songs in American culture. Much of black hip hop and pop in America is surrounded around overcoming struggles, gaining wealth, or love. The videos were even similar to those of videos in America’s culture. EMTee’s video was similar to many street hip hop videos, while D’banj’s video gave me a more R&b video feel.