Moreno Almeida, Cristina. (2017). Rap Beyond Resistance: Staging Power in Contemporary Morocco. Palgrave Macmillan.
by Msia Kibona Clark and Mickie Mwanzia Koster
Now available in paperback & on Kindle
This book examines social change in Africa through the lens of hip hop music and culture. Artists engage their African communities in a variety of ways that confront established social structures, using coded language and symbols to inform, question, and challenge. Through lyrical expression, dance, and graffiti, hip hop is used to challenge social inequality and to push for social change. The study looks across Africa and explores how hip hop is being used in different places, spaces, and moments to foster change. In this edited work, authors from a wide range of fields, including history, sociology, African and African American studies, and political science explore the transformative impact that hip hop has had on African youth, who have in turn emerged to push for social change on the continent. The powerful moment in which those that want change decide to consciously and collectively take a stand is rooted in an awareness that has much to do with time. Therefore, the book centers on African hip hop around the context of “it’s time” for change, Ni Wakati.
Blitz the Ambassador was born Samuel Bazawule in 1982. He was born in Accra, Ghana. As a child he was awarded for his visual art, but soon he developed a love for hiphop from his older brother’s Public Enemy album. He became known in school for historical rhymes. In 2001, he moved to the US to attend Kent State University where he performed at several live shows and even opened for a few well known rappers. In 2004, he recorded his first self-released album, Soul Rebel. He then moved to New York City where he recorded his second album Double Consciousness in 2005.
In his song Dikembe, he talks about his proud African heritage. Speaking in a few lines in an African language and translating simply as “You can’t fuck with us”. He shouts out Moroccan artists, including K’naan, Shad, Nneka, Baloji, and Sarkodie. He uses many metaphors, referencing Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and China Achebe. After researching the word Dikembe, I gathered that it is a popular African name for boys but nothing else. The song specifically refers to the basketball player Dikembe Mutombo and the way he comically wages his finger at the other team when he blocks a shot to the net. The song features a strong turntable sound, a bass clap and a very prominent church organ sound. It is an enjoyable, short piece with an upbeat.
The video takes place in Rabat, Morocco and features a lot of the urban community there. Interacting with many of the locals there.
Karim Kharbouch born November 9th,1984 in Morocco better known now as French Montana who is a famous American rapper. French Montana is now the CEO and founder of Cocaine records. He had lived in Africa for 13 years before him and his family decided to move to the United States. Him and his family moved to South Bronx in New York City. When he first came here he did not know English along with his other family members. He had to learn English from his high school friends which could not have been easy. After two years of his father being in the United States he decided to move back and left him and his family there. This was not an easy transition for French Montana because he was a young boy who now had to be the man of his home so early. His mother had to start receiving help from the government since she only had one source of income coming in. After awhile the family became dependent on French Montana and the income of the house started to come from his pockets. Even through that adversity he still managed to become the successful man he is today. He is now signed to both Bad Boy Records and Maybach Music Group where he has had frequent successes. By looking at French Montana you would not assume he was born in Moroccan. The main reason for that is because he has assimilated a great deal. He does not have an accent nor does he refer back to his homeland in his songs. Many people just assume he is a light skin black man. He also speak a few different languages which are English, Arabic, and French. Things like this set him aside from many other rappers. If he were to show his culture I think he would be even more popular. Shockingly he had been shot in the head while exiting a recording studio in New York luckily he made it through because he would have been leaving not only his parents and siblings behind but he also would have left behind a wife and child. He is now divorced but he is still a great father who says that he sees being a father as one of his driving inspirations. French Montana had a lot of hurdles to come over before he could become the successful person he is today but he did it and I would assume he does not regret what he had to go through because of where he is now.
In the article, Morocco’s Hip Hop Revolution, Latifa al-Arousni writes about the emergence of hip hop in Morocco and how it has affected identity and culture. In the city of Rabat, bands gather for the annual ‘Mawazine Rythmes du Monde’ and perform in front of large crowds. Most of the music played is hip hop, rap and reggae. The author of the article admits that many of the bands are unskilled and perform simple songs but they draw a large crowd mainly beause they embrace this Western type of music and “Moroccan-ize” it by adding in rhythms and instruments from their own culture. She notes also that the people at the concerts are sporting baggy jeans, loose cotton T-shirts, earrings and gold chains–which are commonly worn in the West by hip hop artists and fans. But these artists are not merely copying Western styles of hip hop. Their lyrics are written in colloquial Moroccan Arabic and they address a variety of issues such as unemployment, prostitution, poverty and war. Many of these artists are very patriotic and nationalist, but they still garner an intense amount of disapproval from most Moroccans. Many Moroccans believe that hip hop is just a fad that will soon be forgotten. Others speculate that the reasons young people are drawn to hip hop are because it is loud and often talks about topics that are not normally discussed out in the open (such as politics, etc). People that attended the festival argued that the event allowed a wide variety of artists to perform, fusing contemporary and traditional music. As rap has become more widespread, there are more people urging artists to stay away from vulgar lyrics since they have noted that rap can have a significant impact on the social and political lives of Moroccans.
The article can be accessed through this link.