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

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 

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/

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

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