Ambiguous Relationships: Youth, Popular Music and Politics in Contemporary Tanzania

The article Ambiguous Relationships: Youth, Popular Music and Politics in Contemporary Tanzania by Birgit Englert talks about Bongo Flava music in Tanzania. The article talks about how Bongo Flava has given the Tanzanian youth more visibility by giving them a voice. Young Tanzanians comprise a large percentage of the population. They migrate to cities seeking better life but are faced with high unemployment and poor living conditions. Bongo Flava musicians address these and other public concerns and also include political messages in their songs. The writer argues that Bongo Flava has a political impact not by encouraging the youth to take oppositional position but in the sense that it motivates young people from all levels of Tanzanian society to use their creativities in trying to make their living, thereby working as a source of a self-confidence and empowerment. The article can be accessed by clicking the following link.

Code-Switching in Contemporary Nigerian Hip-Hop Music

The article Code-Switching in Contemporary Nigerian Hip-Hop Music by E. Taiwo Babalola and Rotimi Taiwo discusses about the use of code-switching by Nigerian hip-hop artists. Code-switching, according to the article, is a sociolinguistic term that describes the alternating of two or more languages or dialects in a single communication. The writers talk about how even though most Nigerian hip-hop singers use English, they still try to identify with their roots by mixing English with their indigenous languages. In this article, the writers examine the nature, reason, stylistic effects and implications of code-switching by giving illustrations from the works of various Nigerian hip-hop artists. The article can be accessed by clicking the link below.

Mimi Ni Msanii, Kioo Cha Jamii

The article ‘Mimi Ni Msanii, Kioo Cha Jamii’ Urban Youth Culture in Tanzania as Seen Through Bongo Fleva and Hip-hop  by Maria Suriano talks about how bongo flava is empowering the young generation by giving them a channel to voice out their grievances and concerns in a region where their place in society is ambiguous. The sentence ‘Mimi Ni Msanii, Kioo Cha Jamii’ is a line from the song Darubini Kali by Afande Sele and it means “I am an artist, a mirror of society”. Bongo Flava artists address issues in the society in their songs. The author argues that Bongo Flava has evolved to be a music genre of its own and should not just be regarded as Tanzanian hip-hop or rap. The author also talks about Bongo Flava styles and how it borrows from Western culture, social values the songs address and the music’s impact on media and politics. The article can be accessed by clicking the link below.

Immunization Strategies: Hip-hop and Critique in Tanzania

The article Immunization Strategies: Hip-hop and Critique in Tanzania by Koen Stroeken written in Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, talks about Tanzanian hip-hop music style called Bongo Flava, which when translated to English literally means “flavor of the brains”. Just like Hiplife in Ghana, Bongo Flava is another example of localization of hip-hop to conform to existing traditions and customs of a society. The author talks about the history of the emergence of Bongo Flava and the various factors that affected its growth, various Bongo Flava artists and their songs together with the social and political issues they address. This article can be found in Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol.75, No. 4 (2005), pp. 488-509 or can be accessed by clicking the link below.

Aesthetic of the Entrepreneur: Afro-Cosmopolitan Rap and Moral Circulation in Accra, Ghana

The article Aesthetic of the Entrepreneur: Afro-Cosmopolitan Rap and Moral Circulation in Accra, Ghana written by Jesse Weaver Shipley on Anthropological Quarterly talks about Hiplife music in Accra, Ghana. Hiplife, according to Shipley, is a music genre in Ghana that “combines hip hop sampling, scratching and rap lyricism with older forms of highlife popular music, traditional storytelling (Anansesem), and formal proverbial oratory.” Hiplife, is one of the many examples of the hybridization of western hip hop with local culture to create a unique music genre. In this article, the author explores the lives and works of hiplife artists like Sidney and the Mobile Boys. He talks about the messages of Hiplife artists and how they portray public morality in their songs. This article can be found in the magazine Anthropological Quarterly, Volume 82, Number 3, Summer 2009, pp. 631-668 or can be accessed online by clicking the link below. One has to use CSULA NIS account to log in and read the article.

African Hip Hop and Politics of Change in an Era of Rapid Globalization

The article written by Mwenda Ntarangwi titled African Hip Hop and Politics of Change in an Era of Rapid Globalization shows how African hip hop artists address social and political issues in their songs. The writer gives credit to globalization for the emergence of hip hop in Africa. The writer writes how African hip hop has gained popularity because the youth comprise a huge percentage of the total population of Africa. The youth, the author says, use hip hop “…to express and represent their lived experiences, to formulate the relationship between Africa and the West, to challenge the practices and policies of their own governments, and to paint a picture of the kind of society in which they desire to live.” Hip hop gives the youth the empowerment and representation they lack due to the African culture already in place that marginalizes them. The author also recounts the evolution of African hip hop from being an imitation of American hip hop to being a culture of its own and the various factors that shaped it.

Ntarangwi, Mwenda. “African Hip Hop and Politics of Change in an Era of Rapid Globalization.” History Compass 8.12 (2010): 1316-1327.

Keeping it real: Reality and Representation in Maasai Hip-Hop

The article Keeping it Real: Reality and Representation in Maasai Hip-Hop by Katrina Daly Thompson published in the Journal of African Cultural Studies analyzes the style, message and success of a Maasai-themed Tanzanian hip-hop group X Plastaz. The Maasai are a tribe of semi-nomadic people who live in Kenya and Northern Tanzania. They are known around the world for their distinct culture and residence in and around national parks in Kenya and Tanzania. With a member of the Maasai tribe as part of the singing group and the use of Maasai language, costumes and chanting in their performances, the group X Plastaz can be viewed as an example of how hip-hop which has origins in the West has been localized and is an integral part of Tanzanian culture. The writer tells how the group was very popular in Tanzania when they used Swahili in their raps and sounded “…like the Tanzanian version of the Brooklyn rap crews they had been listening to.” When they changed their style, the group became very popular internationally while their success locally declined. Their decline in popularity at home, according to the writer, is attributed to the group’s refusal to pay bribe to get their songs on the air and Tanzanians’ attitude towards the Maasai. Their international success can be attributed to “…their use of traditionalism to appeal to the touristic desire of Western audiences.” The author also writes how by their unique style and message the group X Plastaz claims it is “keeping it real”. CSULA students can access the article by clicking the link below and signing in with their NIS account.

Masculinity and Nationalism in East African Hip-hop Music

The paper titled Masculinity and Nationalism in East African Hip-hop Music by Evan Mwangi published in 2004 may not be current in terms of the date of publication but applies even today to hip-hop in general and East African hip-hop in particular. Hip-hop in East Africa has grown considerably since 2004 both in the number of artists and the variety of styles and messages but the majority of the artists are still males and the message is masculine in nature. Mwangi explains in his paper this and more including how female artists try to reverse this portrayal. He also writes about how East African hip-hop, even though influenced by Western hip-hop culture, is localized and is growing to be a culture of its own. Using examples and illustrations the article explains how hip-hop music is used to portray nationalism in the countries of the East African Community namely Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The 16 page paper can be accessed through the link below.