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.
Hip hop crew Black Noise from the Cape Flats in Cape Town, South African is recognized as one of the crews that began Cape Towns ‘conscious’ hip hop scene. The other, the well known Prophets of Da City. Black Noise started out as a group of survivors from the breakdance era in South Africa. The members were all influenced by hip hop music in some way or another and they would often hang out with each other on the weekends. They eventually began doing performances at schools, malls, and carnivals. Most performances consisted only of breakdancing, but if there was equipment available they would do some beatboxing, Mcing, or rapping. The crew continued to grow and evolve from there. They’ve had members leave and join the group as time has gone on, and today the only remaining original member is Emile Jansen.
An award winning Ghanaian rapper and songwriter, M.anifest, is one of the best rappers to date. In 2013, M.anifest won best rapper of the year and song of the year. Then, in 2015, his song “Someway Bi” got a third place honor in the International Songwriters Competition (ISC). Easily noting, his music is nothing less than great.
Refiloe Maele Phoolo, known to the public as Cassper Nyovest, is a South African recording artist who’s latest single “Mama I Made It (MIMI)” is a true testament to his past. Growing up in the North West province, Nyovest attended Sol Plaatje Secondary School, where he was esteemed for his athletic ability in basketball, football, and cricket. His rap career spans back to his childhood, as early as the age of 12 during his middle school years. His 10th grade year brought forward academic troubles, causing failure on exams, and he moved to Potchefstroom to live with his grandmother. During the following year, Nyovest made the decision to end his high school career and drop out.
The rapper’s dedication to the pursuance of his dream stands as the backbone of both the single, and his career as a whole. His early releases, including the album Tsholofelo and its singles, were met with major success. The debut album hit #1 on the iTunes South African albums chart for 2 months, and Nyovest was even ranked as the number one “Hottest MC in Africa” by MTV Base.
“Mama I Made It”, to be quite transparent, offers a very familiar listening experience to that of what is heard in American Hip Hop currently, which I find intriguing. The sound reminds me of the music of Future, 2 Chainz, or Drake. The aforementioned discontinuation of his high school career appears as a topic within the lyrics:
Mama ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to make you proud I know I put you through a lot of shit, I’m sorry the calling was loud But you, you let me drop out of school All of your friends used to call you a fool Now when I go home I pull up in a coupe.
Nyovest has seen his dream realized, and he’s come to the understanding that his sacrifices have made a lasting impact on his future.
Rita Ray of the BBC has dubbed him “Ghana’s rapper supreme”; City Pages has described him as an artist with “an incredible gift” (the run off groove) who possesses “the kind of assured, joyful, ruminative voice that made Mos Def into Hollywood’s favorite conscious-rap star” (City Pages). He has also been described as “a rapper from Ghana who’s as smart as Talib Kweli and as funky as Kanye West”. M.anifest or “Manifest with a dot” as I call him was born Kwame Ametepee Tsikata and is an award winning Ghanaian rapper and songwriter. He spent ten years in Minnesota growing musically and now he spends his time in between Ghana and Minnesota. That has helped him to have a transnational experience, which is very prevalent in his music. His grandfather is Professor J.H Nketia, one of the leading ethnomusicologists (someone who studies music), and composers in Africa. Out of all the rappers we have listened to in class he is my favorite thus far.