Wale’s “My Sweetie” and the blending and mixing of the African Diaspora

African identity and culture remain omnipresent and inescapable in all aspects of life, pervading even Eurocentric spaces of art, music and self-expression. As a result, African artist within the diaspora reflect their roots consciously, and often even subconsciously, as Africa presents itself within any channel. Born and raised in Northwest, Washington, D.C, the Nigerian-American hip-hop artist, Olubowale Victor Akintimehin, popularly known as Wale, proudly embodies his Nigerian heritage as well as his culture as a black man of the African diaspora in the music video of his 2010 hit, My Sweetie, through his lyrics, beats, mannerisms, and cast choice.

The video opens to quick-paced background beats resembling drums typical of West Africa, followed by an appearance of the rapper featured in his dreads, snapback, bubble-vest and long-tee. Dreadlocks, a hairstyle popularized within the diaspora by Rastafarian Jamaicans symbolize Wale’s connection to the African diaspora as a whole, reflecting his presence as an African in the Americas. His outfit, typical of a black man from the DMV, show influences of the Black-American diaspora.

As the video begins, Wale shouts, “this is for the girls in Nigeria!” showing recognition to his country as people throw money on him, a Nigerian custom called ‘spraying’ which occurs at celebrations to represent joviality. Next, the line “make my jollof with lots of pepper,” praises African and specifically Yoruba cuisine as Yoruba people are known for heavily using pepper in food. The following line, “I’m so Naija [slang for Nigerian], she so Igbo,” reassures the audience of Wale’s pride of his identity and his love for his people. Lyrics like, “said my name Wale, Ba wo ni,” and “I still du ba le, I am Wale, Olubu,” incorporate his native-tongue, Yoruba, showcasing the artist’s closeness with his home culture. Women in westernized clothing as well as African prints and necklaces shaped like the African continent perform African dances as Wale moves his arms and rocks his body like a true Nigerian man. The entire music video represents a beautiful mesh of the cultures that Wale embodies.

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