Little Simz Making Big Changes to Current Rap Climate

From her stellar lyricism, to her calm confidence Little Simz is riding on a powerful new wave of hip-hop. The 24 year old rapper has separated herself from the pack with a talent groomed for over a decade. Her approach to the medium is breathing new life into the perceptions of female rap today.

Demonstrating a knack for the arts at an early age, her family invested heavily in her journey into all the elements of performance including music, dance, and theater. Her Nigerian roots are mixed with the influence of growing up in North London to create a wealth of cultural experience to shape her sound and expression of herself. After realizing her call to the stage wasn’t for the being a dancer as she initially thought, she began developing her skills as an emcee. In between releases of a series of mixtapes in her teens, she also was able to pursue and acting career. This all led up to 2015 when she released her first full scale project, A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons. Since its release, she has continued to explore her lyrics, storytelling, and imagery on her next album Stillness in Wonderland. With her third major project, GREY, set for release in early March 2019.

She maintains a consistent tour and recording cycle, having worked alongside artists like Gorillaz, Cleo Sol, Mahalia, Kehlani, and more. She hits the roads again after the release of her new album. Included in these dates is a feature show at Coachella in April 2019.

She challenges the common conceptions of female rappers today. With the progressive and powerful imagery of women in rap today, she has a fresh approach and regards herself and her writing as something that sets her apart from the pack. She has been featured with several platforms including the COLORS Show prominent on YouTube. The release of her last album is highly anticipated and she is a breath of fresh air in the game.

 

HHAP Episode 33: The Evolution of M.anifest, from “Immigrant Chronicles” to “God MC”

In this interview M.anifest  talks about his return to Ghana and his experiences in both the US and Ghana. As an artist whose music reflects Ghanaian, African, and Diaspora experiences and cultures, M.anifest brings an important level of intellectual complexity to hip hop culture. When I point these things out in the interview, M.anifest says that he does not want to “be an alternative to the mainstream, but to be an alternative in the mainstream”.
In the interview M.anifest talks about how his return (& his experiences in both the US and Ghana) has been reflected in his music. He discusses the music industries & creative scenes in the US and in Ghana, African MCs in the US hip hop scene, his impact on the hip hop & music scene in Ghana, and his collaborations with other artists, including the late South African hip hop artist, Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP).

In this episode we begin with a look back, musically, at Manifest’s career. We begin with the song “Africa Represent” from his 2007 album Manifestations, then “Motion Picture” from the 2011 album Immigrant Chronicles: Coming to America, and his 2016 single “God MC”. We will end the show with the song “Hand Dey Go, Hand Dey Come” from his 2016 album Nowhere Cool. 

Website: http://manifestmc.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/manifestations/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/manifestive
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/manifestmc
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/manifestive/
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/m-anifest/1377111213

HHAP Episode 32: Wakazi Bringing Bilingual & Bicultural Elements to Tanzanian Hip-Hop Culture

Wakazi is a bilingual Tanzanian hip hop artist. He grew up in Dar es Salaam, but spent several years in the United States, where he was active in the Chicago hip hop scene. Like many MCs who spend several years abroad, when he returned to Tanzania he had to prove himself on the local scene. He was able to craft his brand, largely by harnessing the power of social media. In this interview, Wakazi talks about his experiences in Chicago, with the local hip hop scene and how his experiences there have impacted his career. He discusses his return to Tanzania, the reception he faced on his return, and how has managed to build his career. Wakazi, who is fluent in English and Swahili, also talks about multilingualism, and the use of other Tanzanian languages in hip hop. Wakazi also reflects on some of the struggles within the hip hop community, some of which he feels is largely due to a lack of mentorship by the first generation of Tanzanian hip hop artists. He also discusses perceptions & understandings of African American culture in Tanzania.

Wakazi’s music can be purchased on iTunes at https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wakazi/928220403
Nomadic Wax Super MC: https://nomadicwax.bandcamp.com/track/super-mc-v2

Wakazi is online at
Twitter @Wakazi: https://twitter.com/Wakazi
Facebook @wakazimusic: https://www.facebook.com/wakazimusic/
Instagram @wakazimusic: https://www.instagram.com/wakazimusic/
Youtube @wakazimusic: https://www.youtube.com/user/WakaziMusic

HHAP Episode 29: Ghanaian Hip Hop Scholar Joseph Ewoodzie on Hip Hop in the South Bronx

Ghana born, Bronx raised hip hop scholar Joseph Ewoodzie has published the book Break Beats in the Bronx: Rediscovering Hip-Hop’s Early Years, a book that uncovers details of hip hop’s early years in the South Bronx. Ewoodzie’s book provides rich details of hip hop’s history in the South Bronx. In this interview he discusses his decision to write the book and touches on some of the major themes the book addresses. For example, Ewoodzie talks about the social economic environment in the South Bronx that gave rise to hip hop, environments that mirrored the environments that gave rise to hip hop in Africa.

In the interview we also cover the book’s

Discussion of the link between gang culture and hip hop
The controversies around Afrika Bambaataa
The rise and decline of the visibility of the DJ in mainstream hip hop
The connection between hip hop culture and Africa’s oral tradition
The connections between music in Africa and the Diaspora
South Bronx Ghanaian immigrants in the development of hip hop
The origins of the masculinization of hip hop
The book can be purchased at: uncpress.org/book/9781469632759/break-beats-in-the-bronx

Joseph Ewoodzie can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/piko_e

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 29: Ghanaian Hip Hop Scholar Joseph Ewoodzie on Hip Hop in the South Bronx”

HHAP Episode 27: Laura Lora on the Politics of Gender & a Ghanaian American Identity

In this episode we speak with Ghanian-born, U.S. based artist Laura Lora. In the interview, Laura Lora talks about her experiences an artist, navigating between Ghana and the United States. Growing up in Los Angeles has definitely influenced her music and style, as she talks about being Ghanian and American. Laura Lora, who majored in Black Studies in college, also talks about her experiences in the African American community, and with the divide between Africans and Africans Americans in the United States. 

Her music and work has also placed her in conversations around gender and sexuality, where she chooses to confront ideas on how African, or Ghanian women should dress and behave. In this interview she also addresses ideas of beauty and femininity, which she has also chosen to challenge. 

Laura Lora is very conscious and intentional about her music, and the messages she wants to send. She is very intentional about her confrontations with gender and identity. Her most recent video for the song “Rebel” blends hip hop, femininity, Ghanian ascetics, and American sounds and visuals. The colorful video is clear in its expression of all of these identities.

You can find Laura lora on:
lauraloramusic.com
SoundCloud @lauraloramusic
Facebook @Lauraloramusic
Instagram @Mslauraloa
Twitter @akaDeviantLady 

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 27: Laura Lora on the Politics of Gender & a Ghanaian American Identity”

HHAP Episode 26: Hip Hop Studies at Black Universities in the U.S.

This episode is an African Studies palaver on teaching hip hop related courses at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The discussion focused on approaching hip hop studies from African centered perspectives, as well the impact of those courses being taught at HBCUs on their structure and content.

Leading the discussion are hip hop professors/activists who are teaching hip hop related courses and participating in important dialogues within hip hop studies.

Greg Carr @AfricanaCarr‏ Howard University

Tewodross Melchishua Williams Bowie State University

Jared Ball @IMIXWHATILIKE  Morgan State University

Moderator: Msia Kibona Clark @kibona Howard University

The event was held at Howard University and was sponsored by the Department of African Studies and the Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center.

Music by Sa-Roc: http://sarocthemc.com | @sarocthemc | facebook.com/sarocthemc/

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 26: Hip Hop Studies at Black Universities in the U.S.”

HHAP Episode 23: Uganda’s Ruyonga on African/African American Relations, Black Panther, Politics, and Christianity

This interview with Ugandan artist Ruyonga, formerly known as Krukid, is an in-depth discussion on the artist’s perspective on the Black experience, relations between African Americans and Africans in America, his issues with the Black Panther film, being a Christian MC, and his perspective on laws and politics in Uganda.

Ruyonga studied in the U.S. in the early 2000s. He began rapping in Uganda before coming to the States, and he established an underground career in the U.S. and became known for his distinct sound and strong lyrical ability. After almost a decade in the US, Ruyonga returned to Uganda. He changed his name to Ruyonga and built his career as a Christian rapper.

After a long stay Ruyonga has an interesting perspective on being an African immigrant in America, and the tensions between African and African American communities. He talks about those tensions from an African immigrant perspective, and comments on the diverse racial and ethnic dynamics he saw in different parts of the United States. The conversation turns towards pop culture and race and Ruyonga has strong feelings about the Black Panther and the representations of Africans in the film, and Hollywood’s presentation of the Black experience.

Ruyonga also opens up about his views on race, Black pride, and feminism, as well as his views on the ways different groups of people have been pitted against each other. Part of the conversation includes the artist’s views on some of Uganda’s more controversial laws regarding women and sexuality, especially the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Still a strong lyricist, Ruyonga now uses Christianity as the vehicle with which to express his lyricism. His latest release is Voice Of My Father, and follows an impressive body of work that spans over 10 years. Ruyonga is on

BandCamp at https://ruyonga.bandcamp.com

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/ruyonga/482094271

Twitter: @ruyongamusic

Episode Breakdown
7:30 “African American, American African”
9:30 “Pearl City Anthem”
11:45 “Hand of God”
12:40 Background and move to the US
14:00 The Black Experience
15:15 African & African American relations
23:42 The Black Panther movie & Hollywood
29:33 Black pride, feminism
32:00 The return to Uganda
35:45 Language
37:18 Christianity & politics

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 23: Uganda’s Ruyonga on African/African American Relations, Black Panther, Politics, and Christianity”

Episode 23 Promo

13th Trinity International Hip Hop Festival: Panel Discussion: “Free Speech, Censorship and Protest”

Hip hop, music genre developed in the 1970s by inner-city African Americans from the Bronx, New York city, consists of conscious lyrics which often bluntly address social, political, or economic issues. The nature of hip hop is explicit, authentic, and genuine, and now after decades of diffusion and cultural spreading, the art form perseveres to survive even in areas where censorship and limitation of expression run deep. On April 6th 2018, during the Panel Discussion: “Free Speech, Censorship and Protest” at the 13th Trinity International Hip Hop Festival, Howard University’s Dr. Msia Kibona Clark moderated a group of hip hop artists from all over the world who discussed the condition of media censorship of hip hop in the realm of social change and political discourse.

Dana Burton, a hip hop pioneer and influencer in China asserts that the supposed ban on hip hop in China was simply “fake news.” Burton went on to explain the reaches of Chinese censorship, exemplifying the Chinese ban on the ‘Free Tibet movement.’ In summary, anything that violates national integrity remains off limits in China. For example, videos which include the Tibet flag are banned and individuals are forbidden from using the word ‘Tibet’ in public or media settings.

Another panelist, MC Puos is a hip hop journalist who cofounded china’s first hip hop magazine, Bang. He discussed his upbringing in Detroit and referenced his understanding of words, communication, and censorship, and the unspoken rule of limited self-expression as a youth. A person could lose their life by saying the wrong thing to the wrong person: a realization that showcased the strength of words.

Panelist Emile YX?, a journalist, author, playwright, b-boy, and member of Black Noise, (one of the first hip hop groups in South Africa) discussed the current censorship is South Africa. As a solution to the suppression of black voices in South African Media, YX? proposed that black people create their own markets and industries. His project, Heal the Hood focusses on dismantling the Eurocentric monopolization of the capitalist society by supporting our own businesses. Overall the event was an enlightening intellectual experience.

One Year Later: Wale’s “Fine Girl” is Still a Hit!!

It’s been about a year since Wale has released his 6th studio album SHINE and one of his main singles “Fine Girl” still resonates with me. I love the song so much because the Nigerian-raised artist really represents his roots here. The term “fine girl” is often used in Nigerian and other African cultures to describe a beautiful woman. Wale definitely has ‘endless fine girls’ in his video as it is filled with myriad beautiful women from the Diaspora in a variety of shades and sizes wearing Ankara attire, showing off their killer dance moves as they wave their flags from Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Liberia and other African countries. Continue reading “One Year Later: Wale’s “Fine Girl” is Still a Hit!!”