The Role of New and Social Media in Tanzanian Hip-Hop Production

The Role of New and Social Media in Tanzanian Hip-Hop Production by Msia Kibona Clark

Cahiers d’études africaines 2014/4 (N° 216)

Abstract: Tanzanian hip-hop artists are finding ways to use social media and technology to both participate in social discourse and to disseminate their music. The increased reliance on alternatives to traditional media tests the power of new technology and social media to allow artists to successfully bypass established institutions and barriers. Likewise, it tests the importance of social media in creating a space for Pan African dialogues to occur, viahip-hop. One of the earliest clues that new and social media would signal revolutionary change in the dissemination of hip-hop worldwide was the launch of MySpace in 2003. By 2010 an increasing number of hip-hop artists from Tanzania had created fan pages on Facebook, uploaded videos on YouTube, and opened Twitter accounts. This research examines the ways in which hip-hop artists in Tanzania use this social media to engage audiences, the effectiveness of these strategies in the face of an increasing number of online Tanzanians, and how social media helps artists bridge barriers to Pan African dialogues with artists across Africa and the Diaspora.


Le rôle des médias sociaux en Tanzanie en production hip-hop

Les artistes de hip-hop tanzaniens recherchent des moyens d’utilisation des médias sociaux et des nouvelles technologies qui leur permettent à la fois de participer à des discours sociaux et de diffuser leur musique. Le recours accru à des alternatives aux médias traditionnels questionne le pouvoir qu’ont les nouvelles technologies et les médias sociaux de soutenir les artistes tentant de contourner les institutions et les barrières établies. De même, elle interroge l’importance des médias sociaux dans la création d’un espace où surviendraient des dialogues panafricains, au travers du hip-hop. L’un des premiers indices signalant que les médias sociaux allaient engranger des changements révolutionnaires dans la dissémination mondiale du hip-hop fut le lancement de Myspace en 2003. Avant 2010, un nombre croissant d’artistes hip-hop de Tanzanie avaient créé leurs pages Facebook, téléchargé des vidéos sur Youtube, et ouvert des comptes Twitter. Cette recherche examine les manières dont les artistes de hip-hop en Tanzanie utilisent les médias sociaux pour toucher leurs publics, l’efficacité de ces stratégies auprès du nombre croissant de Tanzaniens connectés au Net, et comment les médias sociaux aident les artistes à vaincre les obstacles qui pourraient s’opposer aux dialogues panafricains avec des artistes de l’Afrique et de la diaspora.

Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati

This book examines social change in Africa through the lens of hip hop music and culture. Artists engage their African communities in a variety of ways that confront established social structures, using coded language and symbols to inform, question, and challenge. Through lyrical expression, dance, and graffiti, hip hop is used to challenge social inequality and to push for social change. The study looks across Africa and explores how hip hop is being used in different places, spaces, and moments to foster change. In this edited work, authors from a wide range of fields, including history, sociology, African and African American studies, and political science explore the transformative impact that hip hop has had on African youth, who have in turn emerged to push for social change on the continent. The powerful moment in which those that want change decide to consciously and collectively take a stand is rooted in an awareness that has much to do with time. Therefore, the book centers on African hip hop around the context of “it’s time” for change, Ni Wakati.

The book features essay by hip hop artists and activists like Amkoullel L’enfant Peulh (Mali), Kama from Kalamashaka (Kenya), Malle Marxist (Tanzania), Mejah Mbuya (Tanzania), and Slim Emcee (Uganda). The book also features a chapter co-authored by South African hip hop pioneer Shaheen Ariefdien. The book also has chapters that cover Kenya, Madagascar, North Africa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Tanzania.

The book is available on Amazon


Journal of Pan African Studies: Hip Hop in Africa

I’ve recently edited a special edition of the Journal of Pan African Studies on hip hop in Africa. With articles by myself and a diversity of other scholars writing on Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

● The Struggle for Hip Hop Authenticity and Against Commercialization in Tanzania  by Msia Kibona Clark

● Urban Guerrilla Poetry: The Movement Y’ en a Marre and the Socio-Political Influences of Hip Hop in Senegal by Marame Gueye

● “Chant Down the System ‘till Babylon Falls”: The Political Dimensions of Underground Hip Hop and Urban Grooves in Zimbabwe by Katja Kellerer

● From Compton to Cape Town: Black(faceless)ness and the Appropriation of Gangsta Rap in Die Antwoord’s “Fok Julle Naaiers” by Lanisa Kitchiner

The Hip Hop Revolution in Kenya: Ukoo Flani Mau Mau, Youth Politics and Memory, 1990-2012 by Mickie Mwanzia Koster

● Swag’ and ‘cred’: Representing Hip-hop in the African City by Caroline Mos

● Hip Hop Music as a Youth Medium for Cultural Struggle in Zanzibar by Shani Omari

● Troubling the Trope of “Rapper as Modern Griot” by Damon Sajnani

● “The Blueprint: The Gift and The Curse” of American Hip Hop Culture for Nigeria’s Millennial Youth by Stephanie Shonekan

Check out the issue:
Cover photo is Thiat from the Senegalese group Keur Gui performing at the Trinity International Hip Hop Festival. Photo by Msia Kibona Clark. jc_vol6no3_big

A Chat With M3nsa –

The Ghanaian hip-hop scene is one of the most diverse in Africa. A look at Ghana’s top emcees reveals artists that vary greatly in style, lyricism, skill and demeanor.

A Chat With M3nsa –


The Ghanaian hip-hop scene is one of the most diverse in Africa. A look at Ghana’s top emcees reveals artists that vary greatly in style, lyricism, skill and demeanor.

M3nsa, aka Mensa Ansah, can be counted among that list of Ghana’s top emcees, and stands out for his unique style and brand of lyricism.

I sat down with M3nsa during his recent visit to Los Angeles, after the artist performed a special Valentine’s Day show at Zanzibar nightclub.

Continue reading “A Chat With M3nsa –”

Hip Hop as Social Commentary in Accra and Dar es Salaam

Hip Hop as Social Commentary in Accra and Dar es Salaam by Msia Kibona Clark

African Studies Quarterly | Volume 13, Issue 3 | Summer 2012

Abstract: This paper looks at the use of African hip hop as social commentary in Accra, Ghana and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Hip hop is by its definition a tool of self- expression and self-definition, and is often used as a tool of resistance. Young artists are using the platform of hip hop to speak out on a host of social and economic issues. A transcontinental conversation is now happening with artists all over Africa and the Diaspora. This paper focuses on the hip hop communities in Accra, Ghana and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Both nations have hip hop communities in which socially conscious hip hop is marginalized. In addition, the histories of these two nations are linked by their histories as battlegrounds in the struggle for Pan Africanism, non-alignment, and socialist ideals. These factors have influenced the use of hip hop for social commentary in both cities. This examination of hip hop in Accra and Dar es Salaam reveals important conversations occurring around politics and economics, on both a national and international level. Hip hop artists and the youth they represent are an important component of any social or political struggle towards progress. This research contributes to the need to engage with African hip hop culture and understand its growing implications for Africa.


AFRICAN HIP HOP IN TANZANIA – Highlights of a Conversation with Alex Perullo

This article, AFRICAN HIP HOP IN TANZANIA, is consisted of highlights from an interview with a prominent scholar, Alex Perullo who studies East African popular musicians.  Among many things covered discussed in the interview, he talked about Hip Hop history in Tanzania, the socialist influence in Tanzania & censorship, and comparison between the hip hop of scene in senegal from Dar Es Salaam, the hip hop youth, music tradition vs a poetic tradition. He also explored the relationship among nationalism, politics and rap today, the conflict between rural and urban culture in the realm of women, hip hop cultural imperism, and changing status of rappers in Tanzania.

Bongo Flava and Hip Hop

Tanzanian hip hop emerged in the late 80s, and by the late 90s was being labeled: Bongo Flava. As this new genre went in the direction of pop and incorporated rap and R&B there continued to be confusion between the two. By the early 2000s Bongo Flava began to eclipse hip hop in popularity, air play, and sales. As a result, several hip hop artists began distancing themselves from Bongo Flava.

The divisions within the music industry in Tanzania center not on a need to destroy popular music and culture, but on the perceived need to save hip hop and its culture. Out of this desire to “save” hip hop came the need to define its boundaries. which allowed artists to define their movement and have an identifiable goal, even if some of the specifics get lost in individual ambitions.

Continue reading “Bongo Flava and Hip Hop”