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:
The paper titled Masculinity and Nationalism in East African Hip-hop Music by Evan Mwangi published in 2004 may not be current in terms of the date of publication but applies even today to hip-hop in general and East African hip-hop in particular. Hip-hop in East Africa has grown considerably since 2004 both in the number of artists and the variety of styles and messages but the majority of the artists are still males and the message is masculine in nature. Mwangi explains in his paper this and more including how female artists try to reverse this portrayal. He also writes about how East African hip-hop, even though influenced by Western hip-hop culture, is localized and is growing to be a culture of its own. Using examples and illustrations the article explains how hip-hop music is used to portray nationalism in the countries of the East African Community namely Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The 16 page paper can be accessed through the link below.
Counting Headz: South Afrika’s Sistaz in Hip Hop is a documentary that was shot in Johannesburg and in Cape Town, South Africa. This film is a documentary about South African women and their struggle. Several rap artists in the film discuss their life and situation through music and Hip Hop. The film explained the obstacles and stereotypes women face on a regular basis. Many women don’t have a voice and are required to follow certain roles, such as being a mother and caring after children. Very few women resist or speak out but, just conform. However, many hip hop artists have chosen to speak out through Hip Hop music. For example, DJ Sistamatic speaks out about how she feels about the way women are treated and portrayed.