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!!”

Wale’s “My Sweetie” and the blending and mixing of the African Diaspora

African identity and culture remain omnipresent and inescapable in all aspects of life, pervading even Eurocentric spaces of art, music and self-expression. As a result, African artist within the diaspora reflect their roots consciously, and often even subconsciously, as Africa presents itself within any channel. Born and raised in Northwest, Washington, D.C, the Nigerian-American hip-hop artist, Olubowale Victor Akintimehin, popularly known as Wale, proudly embodies his Nigerian heritage as well as his culture as a black man of the African diaspora in the music video of his 2010 hit, My Sweetie, through his lyrics, beats, mannerisms, and cast choice. Continue reading “Wale’s “My Sweetie” and the blending and mixing of the African Diaspora”

Liberian’s American Based Artist Stays True to the Diaspora

Liberia’s well known hip hop artists Mdot, migrated to the United States when he was just four years old. Although he left his native country at a young age, he uses his platform in Philadelphia to recount the horrifying nature of the Liberian civil war.

In a sense, Mdot serves as a voice for those who struggled during the conflict and afterward. He mainly raps in standard English, rather than  koloqua(liberia’s local patois), so both Liberians and Americans are able to enjoy his music. His sepia colored memory of the continent and his experiences in America helps to shape his lyrical purpose. Mdot’s themes about Liberia, his impoverished environment in Philadelphia, and the daily struggle of being black in America, creates highly relatable lyrics that resonates with a wide audience. Continue reading “Liberian’s American Based Artist Stays True to the Diaspora”

Little Simz Reflects On Her Struggles in “Gratitude” Visual

UK-based rapper, Little Simz, chronicles the struggles both herself and her community face in the video for her 2015 single, “Gratitude.”

Little Simz, originally from Nigeria, connects with her African heritage throughout the video. She utilizes clips of student protests that took place in Cape Town in 2015 to further emphasize the abstract idea of struggle. In one of the clips, a protester is saying that “education is not a privilege, it is a right.” In 2015, students at South African universities protested against the increase in tuition fees and demanded that they be cut by at least 11%. In “Gratitude”, Little Simz says:

“Put my feet in the studio and call it my home
While others have got no way out/”

Continue reading “Little Simz Reflects On Her Struggles in “Gratitude” Visual”

Diasporia Artist – Jidenna’s Long Live the Chief

Other diaspora artists like Wale and Skepta seek to incorporate aspects of their family’s culture to the culture that they have grew up in. For example, Wale’s identification as a DMV artist does not stop him from incorporating elements of go-go music, while making references to Nigerian culture in his songs. However, Jidenna is markedly different from other diaspora artists because he not only integrates his Nigerian culture into his music, but into his fashion and entire image.  Continue reading “Diasporia Artist – Jidenna’s Long Live the Chief”

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.

Continue reading “Nigerian Tings”

A Global State of Mind

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Raiza Biza is a rapper from Kigali, Rwanda. He moved to Gisborne, New Zealand from Africa as a teenager, and Hamilton soon became his home. As a child, Raiza Biza’s family had to relocate several times. He was conceived in Rwanda, but his mother gave birth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He lived there for two years, and then his family moved to Zambia. After some time, they moved to South Africa. The family’s final move was to New Zealand, when Raiza Biza was 13 years old.

Continue reading “A Global State of Mind”

Blitz the Ambassador: A Diaspora Messenger

Blitz the Ambassador was born in Ghana. Growing up he idolized Nas. After gaining notoriety after recording part of the song “Deeba”. One of his songs, recorded in the states, “Dikembe” is a clear ode to his heritage. While he employs Nas-like verse form and style, his lyrics clearly put Africa in the spotlight. A critical line in the song is: “The African attack, Yese wo kum apim a apim beva, chale koko da, let me translate: you can’t fuck with us” is subtly saying “back off” to European/the west in general. He means that Africa has something important to offer and its artists should be valued. In the music video he wears African fabric on his shoulders, making it known that he is proud of his heritage. Another line that has fantastic historical meaning is inserted into his song: “spitting at these lames, watch them touch down in Africa, get snatched for their chains.” This lyric has many layers. One of them might be the fact that Africans and black culture are rarely credited and recognized. Too often their work is stolen or used without mention of its influence. Chains can refer to the stereotypical rapper sporting gold chains, but it also alludes to slavery and the diaspora itself. Blitz the Ambassador clearly knows that his success is partly due to his move to the United States. While his lyrics in this song might not show it, he demonstrates American influence through his clothes. In this video he wears a baseball cap, jeans, and a black shirt. He combines this with an African print scarf, which shows a blending of two worlds. He also references another famous African figure that is popular in the US, Dikembe. Dikembe Mutombo is a basketball player in the United States and is known for his Internet meme. Blitz the Ambassador shows he knows how music is transnational and crosses borders with this line: “I’m in Morroco, penning another classic for the masses.”