Who is Astou Gaye, and how did she set the contemporary precedent for aspiring female rappers in the banlieus surrounding Dakar?
Better known by her stage name Toussa Senerap, Astou began her career calling out a highly-patriarchal Senegalese culture that withholds respect for women in both marriage and the hip-hop industry. There is no questioning Astou’s commitment to overturning society’s status-quo: her first experience with rap was in 50 Cent’s international banger, “In da Club” – a testament to selling drugs and pimping women that Astou transformed into a struggle for women’s emancipation. Continue reading “Toussa, or all-inclusive”
Shane Eagle, a twenty-one year old Johannesburg Hip Hop artist, is one of the most prominent rap potentials in the South African music game right now. Born to an Irish father and Black mother who divorced when he was young, Eagle received a heavy influence of European culture growing up attending predominantly white schools, and frequently visiting his mother in Rabie, Johannesburg, a primarily caucasian region of the province. Needless to say, he received a mixed influence of several african cultures through his interactions in the Johannesburg area. He presents himself with an overall semi-woke style. In one of his songs, Let it Flow, Eagle openly references black culture yet uses only western-influenced visuals in the music video. One of his first lines claims that “the only nigga to own time is Ben Franklin,” but then goes on to talk about how he doesn’t wear diamonds because they killed his ancestors. Now, it should be commonly known to those cultured in black history that a black man did invent the first clock, and therefore should at least be credited where it’s due as opposed to the faux historical figure he is commonly mistaken for.
Shane also raps about forcing himself to become “commercially viable,” which only makes sense as Gauteng, where he grew up with his dad, stays at the top of the ranks for South Africa’s wealthiest and most populated province. Eagle is aware of the need to keep up with a rapidly changing environment and uses his music style as his platform for growth. Continue reading “The Rise of a Prospect: Shane Eagle”
Artist Profile: Graffiti Writer Behulum (Ethiopia) at the 12th Annual Trinity International Hip Hop Festival. This is a special podcast episode recorded at the Trinity International Hip Hop Festival, by guest host Seth Markle and guest producer by Kalalea
Artist Profile: Graffiti Writer Behulum (Ethiopia) at the 12th Annual Trinity International Hip Hop Festival
Shadia Mansour is a hip-hop artist who raps in Arabic. Many called her the “first lady of Arabic hip-hop,” which mean she is breaking down barriers for a female in the Middle East. Mansour is from Palestine and majority of the population there is Sunni Islam. She is a political figure in the Middle East. Mansour is a young voice that bridging art and activism. She grew up listening to American rappers like KRS-One. She wanted to relate the injustice and oppression expressed that she heard in American hip-hop to the experiences of the Palestinian people. In her interview with Cultures of X Resistance Network, she stated: “We’ve got police brutality going on right here in Palestine.” Her song that is called Sho Eli Saar explains her feeling for the police in Palestine.
Positive Black Soul is known as one of the first rap and hip-hop groups in the country of the Senegal. Based in Dakar, Senegal, the group began as a collaboration between two members from the Didier Awadi’s Syndicate and King MCs. Didier Soutou Awadi and Doug E. Tee got to together to form the group Positive Blacks Soul known for their use of traditional Senegalese instruments, political rhyming, and mostly Wolof language. The two were originally rivals who competed against each other and were from different neighborhoods. The two eventually performed together instead of against one another, and it was at that moment they realized that they had a lot in common. Positive Black Soul got momentum after their performance at a music festival hosted by the Dakar French Cultural Center. They got noticed by French rapper MC Solaar. The group was asked to open up for him at his show in Dakar and throughout France. The group went on to put out their first album called Boul Fale, and their career took off from there. They received an opportunity to work with Senegalese musician Baaba Maal, which in turn got them a record deal with Mango Records, who Baaba Maal was signed with. The group continued on to gain international acclaim and had the opportunity to work with artists such as American rapper KRS-One, Red Hot organization, Res, Tony Allen, Ray Lema, Baaba Maal, and Archie Shepp.
The song “Human Being” is about how people struggle to keep up appearances while struggling to deal with their personal problems and misery. It discusses how people struggle to handle pressure. The song also mentions how people use material things, such as expensive cars, clothes etc. to make statements and validate their status in society. M.I brings up an important point which is rarely addressed in the hip hop community: that not all rapers are super rich or always have money. In the song, he mentions that he himself, as a rapper, doesn’t always have money. In a way, he uses this to relate to everyday people, making him a “human being”. Relating to the title, it implies that all celebrities are just “human beings” or ordinary people. The song mentions how people are forced to meet the demands of others and live up to their expectations. This is an important song since it is both relative to both American and Nigerian society. Although these cultures are fairly different, they share similarities in terms of judgement and appearance. For example, if you are of a high social status, or at least appear to be, people will treat you differently, often better. Another important aspect of this song is the means of communication. The song both uses traditional English and pidgin English to get its message across. Pidgin English, being more relative to the youth, makes the message of the song more relevant. Although both traditional English and pidgin English are used in Nigeria, Pidgin English is more commonly used in an Urban setting.
Sarkodie is a hip hop artist/ rapper from Tena, Ghana. His full name is Michael Owusu Addo. In 2012 he won the BET Award for Best International Act and in 2014 he won an Independent Music Award for Best Song: Rap or Hip Hop. When I listen to the song it sounds like an American hip hop song that you would hear today. As I was watching it I noticed a lot of similarities between his video and the videos you see hear in America. When you look at the video it shows him in the dessert and it seems as though he is doing a deal with some guys who seemed to be Arabs, kind of like what you would see in an American video. You also saw the glorification of woman as sexual objects objects with the woman in the dessert. His style of rapping is very fast and very hard. He talks a low about power. Listening to his lyrics I found them to be hard to understand until you listen to the song like two or three times. In the song he talks about controversial contracts that he has been given which has he has learned from and has learned how to deal with the struggles of being famous and negotiating. In one part he says “the Lord is still my Shepherd, he is regarding his upbringing and religion as an impact on life. When I looked up some reasons for the song being called Illuminati, I was shocked at his reasoning for it. He talks about how when he was struggling to become a successful rapper, no one helped and no one looked at him as being one but when he finally became successful, people bean to call him the Illuminati and regard him as an Illuminati because of his fame and his style.