Posted in Africa, Female Emcees, Hip Hop African Article, South Africa

Nadia Nakai – Like Me vs Nadia Rose – Station

This post is dedicated to the comparison of two talented female emcees, from two different countries that share a first name. Nadia Nakai and Nadia Rose both speak on the fact that no one can step to them, whether lyrically or otherwise. With upbeat rhythms and fast rap patterns one could definitely draw a comparison between their styles of delivery and topic choice, however the visuals to accompany the video could not be more different. Nakai brought the b-girl aspect of hip hop to her video, whereas Rose’s Station is literally at a train station saying that she has the go. Station starts with a uptempo boom-bap pattern beat, and a song that would leave you understanding that she won’t be in the same position, space or even place as she is always on the go. Meanwhile, you cannot forget Nadia Nakai, nor can you get close to have the relentless flow that she professes to use throughout the track. Typical in Nakai fashion Nadia flaunts what she has and challenges anyone who thinks that they can step to her about it.

Meanwhile, Nadia Rose calls out fans who talk about her as if she wont talk about it to their face, and when they do reply they want to keep up and if it weren’t obvious at this point, they cannot. Even down to the more specifics of the beats that they decided to use for the songs are tough, as Nakai’s beat for Like Me sounds like a Swiss beats classic and, Rose’s beat selection sounded like a Neptune’s sound. The overall message trying to be conveyed as previously mentioned is that you cant step to these talented ladies with anything short of amazing. Both Femcees also defy the standard representation of what’s ladylike for an emcee, with the overaggressive crumping in Like Me, and to the aggressive styles in which she tells you that you can’t see her in Station.

Nadia Rose – Station [Official Video]

Nadia Nakai – Like Me

Posted in Ghana, Hip Hop African Article, South Africa, Student Projects

M.anifest – “Cupid’s Crooked Bow”

Immediately, M.anifest’s “Cupid’s Crooked Bow” begins with a smooth, African drum beat, fused with South African artist Nomisupasta’s unique voice – a kind of tone that is completely original but also, to me, sounds like a mix of Adele and Erykah Badu’s voices (especially when Nomisupasta sings in English). M.anifest raps in English, creating a familiar sound that that reminds listeners of classic, slow-beat American hip hip. Because of the elegance of his lyrics, M.anifest’s rapping style is a kind that likens that of American artist Common, with the way he describes and admires his encounters with a woman.

The video is in a pleasant high quality, and the images offer watchers a relaxed, night scene that includes an abundance of dancing and some drinking. The refraining lyrics in the song “There’s something special about you”, along with M.anifest’s nostalgic verses offer a sentimental mood to the song, easily making it an admirable one with its use of piano and occasional electric guitar licks.

The use of guitar makes “Cupid’s Crooked Bow” a song heavily rooted in Ghanaian music, because Highlife – a Ghanaian genre that predated hip hop in Africa – consists of European instruments and is especially guitar-heavy. Because M.anifest includes this in this piece, he is able to be a true representative of hip hop and decidedly remains close to this distinctly Ghanaian sound.

dancer2

After the 3 minute mark on the video (around 3:06, to be exact) “Cupid’s Crooked Bow” suddenly takes on a “trap beat” – something especially prominent in modern rap music, and very unlike the African drum beat that is present throughout the majority of the song. This is a profound artistic touch because by adding this trap beat, M.anifest displays the growth and diversity of African hip hip music – over the years – through his song (beginning with traditional African sounds and ending with a mainstream rap beat, used worldwide). As soon as this beat appears, a girl simultaneously appears in the video and begins to dance while holding a strong eye-contact with the camera. Her dancing is representative of West African dancing styles, and is therefore another significant cultural element of the video.

Watchers of “Cupid’s Crooked Bow” see and hear it all at once: the Highlife elements, the classic slow-rap style, the traditional African rhythmic beats, the West African style of dancing, and the Western music elements. They are able to identify all of this; and because of it; the song is sophisticated, easily admirable, and is an undeniably good track.

Posted in DJs, Hip Hop African Article, Nigeria, Student Projects

Nigeria’s Modern Day Musical Renaissance

With widespread popularity of music artists from Nigeria to other countries it is no surprise that Nigerian’s music scene is experiencing a rebirth in it’s own right. A musical renaissance of sort.

Popular artists such as Wizkid, Patoranking, Tekno and alike blend a range of different elements to create a type of cross over music that can appease any crowd and is versatile in nature. This blend includes pop and traditional african instruments coupled with hip hop flare. This type of music has been dubbed a modern day take on “Afrobeats.”

Two videos are linked in this post. The first is Nigerian rapper Boogey freestyling to Wizkid’s “Ojuelegba.” The second video is of Wizkid’s original track of the song.

Both have different styles entirely. Boogey in true emcee form is freestyling. One of the most striking things about his video is that he is simply rapping in the entirety of the video. Boogey isn’t worried about melodies or pop appeal. Furthermore,  you can trace his rhymes by the story he tells like a modern day African griot. He also touches on his skills as a lyricist and how he can enlighten us to, “a main verse, one that [we] have never heard.”

In comparison, Wizkid’s song “Ojuelegba” lyrics shed light through his struggle of working hard and giving thanks to God always. With careful inspection I found the lyrics interesting due to the fact that I’ve listen to this song many times never knowing the message of the song. The song’s upbeat tempo and melodies contrasts with the seriousness of the message of the song. In the song he covers tough topics such as people in Nigeria suffering yet still having such tremendous faith in God and praying for blessings.

Although some may argue that this modern day “Afrobeats” genre is susceptible to sponsorship and turning into a commercialized entity, it is important to note the vast benefits this could have for African countries such as Nigeria. This genre can be used as a stepping stone, bridging western and African culture. With this bridge more interest in African music will lead to a pathway of understanding and tolerance for a more globalized and interconnected world.

It is crucial however, that these artists remain true to their musical messages and do not fall prey to capitalistic nature of the music industry. African artist can use their music to advance compelling messages that will invoke social change. They can use this modern Afrobeats genre as worldwide platform to reach many with whatever message they choose. In the end it is up to these artist as to which message they will send across the world to their millions of listeners. We will be waiting and listening.

Posted in Female Emcees, Hip Hop African Article, South Africa, Student Projects

Miss Pru’s “Ameni” and Gigi LaMayne’s “Isgubhu”: Truly Modern Hip Hop and Pop

“Ameni” Music Video

When I first clicked on the YouTube link to listen to Miss Pru DJ’s “Ameni” music video; featuring so many artists like Emtee, Saudi, Sjava, Fifi Cooper, A-Reece & B3nchMarQ; I was pleasantly surprised to hear African drums and percussion implemented into the electronic melodies and beats of the song. The mere fact that this hit’s DJ is an African woman artist, Miss Pru, made me even more excited to listen to it – as I am a huge fan of woman MCs and DJs.

I truly appreciated the diversity of rapping styles of all artists in the song, and the mix of this intricacy with the familiar “trap-style” or modern rap-style elements (trap-style beats, electronic beats, voice modulation of rappers) of the U.S., absolutely made the song one to remember. The various visuals in the video, itself, makes the song (even more) distinctly African – with displays, actions, items, and dress that reference South African cultural practices – despite even the Zulu language primarily used throughout the length of the seven-minute piece. So, if hip hop should have its origin in the MC’s community, then all the rap artists featured in the song, “Ameni”, definitely adhere to this requirement of authenticity.

“Isgubhu” Music Video

Though Gigi Lamayne is rapping in this song, I would not consider the song as such. In music video “Isgubhu”, Lamayne primarily speaks English – something that is not bad (in the slightest) but is something more commonly representative of popular culture – unless a piece of music is coming from an English-speaking country. Though English is popular worldwide, it is not an African language. Therefore, Gigi Lamayne is not rapping for her community, but is trying to reach a more global audience by rapping this way.

Aside from this, the song itself is about shaking booties – giving the song a playful and fun vibe. As hip hop usually attempts to have the best rhymes, original sounds, and some sort of intellectual meaning behind it; “Isgubhu” stands out and strays away from those principles – making it less of a hip hop song. Pop music, however, shares elements from other artists, simplifies those musical elements, uses simple (English) lyrics, and strives to be popular above all else.

The beat in Gigi Lamayne’s “Isgubhu” reminds me of YG’s “My N*gga”, in the sense that they are basically share the same beat (but Lamayne’s song is sped up [probably for the proper booty-shaking tempo]); the songs even share the same exact key (E-flat minor scale). Since YG’s song was so popular, with over 225 million views on the song’s YouTube music video, Lamayne’s song sounds familiar, making it more likely to be enjoyed by listeners. The song is the same, but simultaneously different – like nearly every modern pop music. The way Lamayne talks about booties , along with her intonation, in this song also reminds me of Nicki Minaj and a number of her songs – yet another all-too-familiar aspect of “Isgubhu”.

In conclusion, we can better understand the line between today’s (or modern) hip hop and pop music. Because hip hop is so popular, worldwide – regardless of where you go, it is often difficult to distinguish what is merely pop and what is true hip hop music. Through this analytical review, I have identified that true modern hip hop attempts to be original and intellectually driven, while pop music strives to be popular above all else.

 

Posted in Artist Profiles, Hip Hop African Article, Hip Hop References, Student Projects, Tanzania

Hip Hop vs. Bongo Fleva

Hip hop in Tanzania was always in Swahili, and the beats were usually original and pure. The artists rap about their lifestyle, which was more political or how they were living. Maria Suriano, who wrote “Mimi ni msanii, kioo cha jamii’ urban youth culture in Tanzania as see through Bongo Fleva and hip hop” reported, “in the early 1990s ‘Hip-Hop in Tanzania, was seen as ‘uhuni’, associated with crime and drugs’.” However, when time started to change then the Tanzania hip hop was famous for its referred that was considered tpo be a unique style of expression, which combined an artistic component such as music, dance, poetry, art (graffiti), performance, fashion, attitude, and social discourse ship. A Tanzania hip hop artist that seem to have kept the tradition going Nikki Mbishi, One The Incredible, and Songa, and P The MC. Nikki Mbishi’s music seem have a style that caused his audience to have a political awaken. Also, One the Incredible’s music seem to be a prime example of traditional Tanzania hip hop. Songa’s musical style was more a traditional old school hip hop in America. P the MC’s music influenced similar style to Songa old MC raps that American Hip Hop was found on in the early 1990s. Hip Hop’s music was defined as being a way to express everyday struggles and to allow people to create a culture that defined their history.

Continue reading “Hip Hop vs. Bongo Fleva”

Posted in Africa, Hip Hop African Article, Hip Hop References, Kenya, Student Projects

More Than Hip Hop: I Am…Young Kenyan, Intellectual, and Revolutionary

According to East African Hip Hop: Youth Culture and Globalization by Mwenda Ntarangwi, “young hip hop artists in the East African nations of Kenya…showcase the opportunities and challenges brought by the globalization of music.” Young hip hop artists in Kenya are less likely to be recognized on a global scale that other artists in the world because of the mixture of American and Jamaican rap styled with a touch of the artists native African language.  Ntarangwi claimed that East African hip hop culture was less commercialized because artists were more likely to honor tradition and their culture, which was less appealing to a larger audience. Ntarangwi further illustrated that East African hip hop was an outlet for social change. Some of the social change that East African hip hop artists were calling for a change in the “economic policies, African identity, and political establishments, as well as important issues of health, education, and poverty.” Ntarangwi explanation about East African hip hop artists that did not publicize because they wanted to uplift their people and make them more conscious of the oppression that was forced on them. The perfect example of a Kenyan hip hop artist was Judge most would associate his style with Megadeth, and Jay-Z, according to Reverbnation.

Judge currently from a rap group called Blackduo. He and the group are Kenyan born artists who tried to empower the urban youth in Kenya to resisted the massive in a peaceful demonstration. Judge was “was born in dandora raised in ziwani were people smoke a lot of weed to release the pressure” according to an interview Judge conducted with Hip Hop Kambi. According to Hip Hop Kambi, Judge created a project named Hip Hop 4 Peace. Judge mention that “HIPHOP4PEACE is a movement for every one not only hiphop artist because hiphop is a culture of peace love and unity and this is exactly what the world needs not only Kenya.” Also, the interview went on exploring Judges take in politics and society. Judge stated, “[‘politicking’ means] Man eat man society because of politic every one is bizzy hyping his tribal leaderz,” which was interpreted as politics influence people’s behavior. Also, the interviewer asked him “What is ‘mental slavery’? Do you have a “philosophy of education,” his replied was “ukoloni mamboleo under paid,” which mean neocolonialism undermining people skills and abilities by underpaying for their services. Judge was a very conscious person because a question was about the youth and the drug problem in Kenya and he stated, “drug is a problem in the whole world not only Kenya but, for example, the problem we do face is because of idling, joblessness, lack of education.” Nevertheless, he was asked about the violence in Kenya, and his responses were “I cant say who is promoting violence, but I can say what is promoting violence e.g., poverty, tribalism, hate spich’.” The one message that he was trying to spread to the youth in Kenya was open up your mind and resisted the oppression in a peaceful manner, which was clearly illustrated in a hip hop song he collaborated.

 

shupav-judge-washamba-wenza-320x180

 

Judge collaborated with a group named Washamba Wenza from Dandora, Kenya. The collaboration brought about a song called Shupav which means “…we all SOLDIERS of the same struggle and we all gotta go hard…” The song and video wanted to highlight that since they are artists and receiving some money for their talent do not mean that they are not still struggling with the rest of the poor people. They were calling for everyone in Kenya to participate in a peaceful revolution to get their voices heard on being an end to poverty. The message the song was displayed was that people in Kenya need to wake up and demand more from their politicians. Ntarangwi explained that Kenyan artists hip hop songs are for a political campaign to stop injustice and inhumane acts amongst their people.

 

To read more about Mwenda Ntarangwi book

(http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/88dqr6eq9780252034572.html)

To read more about Judge style of rap

(https://www.reverbnation.com/judgeblackduo)

To read more about the interview

(https://hiphopkambi.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/interview-judge-blackduo/)

To see more of the video description

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF8Jxl0v6xg)