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.

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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.

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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.”

 

Little Simz Recognizes Home

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Born in Islington, London, England, to Nigerian parents, Simbiatu “Simbi” Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, does not forget her parents roots, nor her own roots or self awareness in her music.  The twenty-four year old rapper, singer, and actress, better known as “Little Simz,” has been able to understand rap to a wide array of communities throughout her career while reaching out and being able to enlighten those about political, social, and cultural issues. Continue reading “Little Simz Recognizes Home”

STORMZY

Stormzy whose real name is Micheal Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo is a Ghanaian-British rapper who is currently based in the UK. He has a large fan base throughout the UK with many No 1 singles and a UK No 1 album titled Gang Signs & Prayer. His album Gang Signs and Prayer is nothing short from phenomenal and inspiring. In this album, he sheds the light on living in a society where all odds are against him. But he was able to use Rap to overcome the temptations and danger that come with living in a gang prone locality. Continue reading “STORMZY”

Kitendi

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First of all, listen to the bass hit at 00:19. It’s the sickest beat on which you can open your verse in a song like this.

Belgian-Congolese rapper Badi’s collaboration with Central African DJ Boddhi Satva in the Kitendi music video coins their representation of the Central African identity and culture in Francophone Europe (particularly in Belgium and France). The video is set in Café Barge in Paris and focuses on the fashion choices of all individuals present, at the same time, it capitalizes on their presence as a group to create the most fly-looking squad for a music video. Continue reading “Kitendi”

Young Fedora

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Say’hu is a Gambian American hip-hop recording artist from Charlotte, North Carolina. His music stresses the issues of capitalism, poverty, and war and is often loaded with witty metaphors and heart felt messages that everyone can relate to. With hip-hop being his musical root and most important source of inspiration, he says artist such as 2-pac, Jay-Z, J. Cole, Knaan & Fugees are key influences in his own pursuit of musical recognition. In his song “Summer Came Early” he talks about the corruption of his homeland and the truth about being truthful. “From the holy land where kings and queens reside / Politics and diamonds is the reason niggas die / The truth kills, being real is suicide.” He also represents his country by the way he dresses and with lines like “Pay some homage to the guru, out here reppin’ for the people /I do shit how I wanna, I ain’t looking for approval / This that black super hero, that African voodoo.” Continue reading “Young Fedora”