African Hip Hop Through Visual Art

This semester students in the Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa course did either podcasts and art pieces. This is some of the artwork submitted from this semester’s students.

 

Student Project: Podcast Interview with Dr. Clark

This podcast was an interview with Dr. Msia Clark. Throughout the course of this conversation we explore the specificity of the study of Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa; touching on topics such as hyper-sexualization of women and gender representations in hip-hop, the link between social movements such as Y’en A Marre, the Arab Spring, and Black Lives Matter, etc and the social vehicle and platform hip-hop has provided to social movements around the world, the African hip-hop renaissance, and finally the highs and lows of teaching a joint African hip-hop course split between an HBCU and PWI

Continue reading “Student Project: Podcast Interview with Dr. Clark”

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”

13th Trinity International Hip Hop Festival: Graffiti Exhibition

Color: the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light.

From my knowledge and experience, colors captivate not only the eye, but evoke specific emotional and psychological responses in human beings physically. For decades, the urban youth have utilized blends of hues to express sentiments, awareness and inner passions in the form of graffiti. On Saturday, April 7th at in front of Trinity College’s Mather Hall, I visited a beautiful graffiti exhibition which showcased gifted artists from all over the world as part of the 13th Trinity International Hip Hop Festival.

The installation included two large cubes which featured graffiti paintings on each of the four visible sides of each cube (eight paintings). Each piece showcased bright color combinations which told a story. For example, Marcelo Ment from Brazil did a piece which showed a woman with colorless parts of her face while her hair was made of a variety of bright and warm color combinations. Another side of the block showcased the turquoise, green and blue mixture of a girl’s French braids, with pink accents. The colors complimented each other and flowed like mystical water.  In addition, Artists Lindaluz Carrillo, Kamil Kucharek, and Poptart from Hartford, and Yuanjie K-Ching Qian from Montreal all composed their pieces within minutes, leaving their mark for all to marvel. Their work represented a culture of conscious art which I personally revere especially at a time in which Graffiti is going extinct due to gentrification. During the exhibition, another viewer mentioned that with less spaces left unoccupied by cameras, there are less opportunities for graffiti artists to tag areas with messages. The conversation led me to further appreciate the art, not only for its authenticity, and cultural impact, but also for its endangered state.

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Graffiti Exhibition at Trinity College

This year’s past Trinity International Hip Hop Festival also featured a live Graffiti Exhibition at the Gates Quad, an area in front of Mather Hall. The two-cube installation was created that Saturday morning with works by Marcelo Ment from Brazil, Hartford natives Lindaluz Carrillo, Poptart, and Kamil Kucharek, Yuanije K-Ching Qian from Montreal, Canada.

The first piece that I really liked was the freestyle graffiti piece by Brazilian artist Marcelo Ment. The intricate graffiti piece features a clever combination of lines and color to create depth and emphasis of the blend of both a bookcase and cityscape setting. The use of both warm and cool colors with blue, yellow, red, green and purple hues creates further contrast. There is movement in the center of the piece with a spiral shape connecting two silhouettes facing opposite of one another surrounded by terms such as “I am one because we are one”, “life”, and “respect”. “Trinity His Hop” is written in bold white letters in the bottom corner to pay homage to the festival. The graffiti piece highlights empowerment, unity and education through its’ bold lettering and style.

Another piece I really liked was the abstract Tetris-like piece which I believe is by Lindaluz Carrillo, an artist and graduate from the University of Hartford. The piece is a 3D abstract Tetris-like shape with landscape details inside the shape. The cool blue tones go the mountains and waves inside the shape contrast with the warm pink surrounding it. The use of black inside the shape also gives it an illusion of a face. I would consider this to be quite an urban piece as abstract shapes that both makes you think and strikes emotion are very common in graffiti art.

The graffiti exhibition was an effective visual art piece for the festival. The main piece “Trinity Hip Hop” in front of the first cube was a great backdrop for some Trinity Festival photos! The bold graffiti letters against a dark background creates contrast and attracts attention to the words on the piece. The graffiti overall surrounds us around urban themes, including empowerment, courage and unity.

 

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Graffiti By Marcelo Ment
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Me at the 2018 Trinity Hip Hop Festival!

To be the MC that’d walk 1000km…

To rap in one language is impressive, two rap in two is incredible—but to rap in two languages at the same time in the same verse? Well that’s just called Kast, and as someone who can’t even rap in their native language, there seems no end to the impressive escapades of the Botswanan rapper. Continue reading “To be the MC that’d walk 1000km…”

The Prince Of The South

 

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We see all the time in the United States artist claim there titles. You got the King of New York or The Queen of Rap, but meet the Prince of South African Rap. Kiernan Jarryd Forbes, known by his stage name AKA. AKA is a South African hip hop recording artist and record producer. Continue reading “The Prince Of The South”

Nigerian Tings

You might know UK based Grime artist Jme better as the younger brother of his older sibling, Skepta. The two grew up in Tottenham, a neighborhood of North London, but the parents of Jamie (Jme) and Joseph (Skepta) Adenuga originate from Nigeria, and the brothers’ upbringing had been heavily influenced by their African background.

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STORMZY

Stormzy whose real name is Micheal Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo is a Ghanaian-British rapper who is currently based in the UK. He has a large fan base throughout the UK with many No 1 singles and a UK No 1 album titled Gang Signs & Prayer. His album Gang Signs and Prayer is nothing short from phenomenal and inspiring. In this album, he sheds the light on living in a society where all odds are against him. But he was able to use Rap to overcome the temptations and danger that come with living in a gang prone locality. Continue reading “STORMZY”

Représentez Représentez

Growing up all around the French capital and hailing from all parts of francophone Africa, the Parisian hip-hop collective Sexion d’Assaut has proven that there is power in diversity. The variety of styles present in a given track mixed in with their individual lyrical collaborations combine to form a hypnotically rhythmic creation often imparting a good deal of knowledge as well. And in keeping with their powerful lyrical presence and melodious accompaniment, their track “Africain” does not disappoint. Continue reading “Représentez Représentez”