Posted in Diaspora, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Student Projects

Nadia Rose and Gigi Lamayne

For today’s blog post I analyzed “DFWT” by Nadia Rose and Gigi Lamayne’s freestyle. Both artist had, what I believe, non conventional videos. In both videos, neither of the women were super dolled up. In fact, throughout the entirety of her video, Gigi Lamayne was, basically, in lounge wear. Rose was not much different. Throughout her video she wore typical, everyday outfits. I believe the artists’ wardrobe choice can be attributed to what they believe is most important in their videos, the lyrics and message. Neither artist wanted to be distracting through their choice of clothing. With that being said, you would think the videos contained substantive messages, yet “DFWT” and Gigi Lamayne’s freestyle were not in anyway associated with political or societal issues in their country. But, I do believe they still felt their messages were substantial. In Theresa Renee White’s Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott and Nicki Minaj: Fashionistin’ Black Female Sexuality in Hip-Hop Culture—Girl Power or Overpowered?, she analyzed ideas on women controlling their sexuality. In her conclusion she stated the views of Michel Foucault, “Making sense of our sexuality, Foucault holds, is perceived in the modern age to be a method for discovering the truth about who we are. The truth that we seek about ourselves is a truth we associate with the power of self-control.” I believe both of these artist hold a truth about themselves. “DWFT” by Nadia Rose was filled with self-exemplifying statements. She continuously posted about herself, her status, and her achievements. Similarly, Gigi’s video was a basically glorified rebellion. It began with her mother scolding her and the remainders of the video was her making a mockery of her mother. Both of these women are examples of women who do not let their sexuality define them. They are the Missy Elliot’s and Nicki Minaj’s.

Posted in Female Emcees, Nigeria, South Africa, Student Projects

African Hip Hop Femcees

Female emcees in Africa are challenging the traditional roles of Women in hip hop while also changing the direction of the feminist/womenist movements through their lyrics, and sexuality. Different artists have taken different approaches to challenging these norms. Some embrace the power of hyper- sexuality while some shy away from it, and take a more subtle approach to  expressing their sexual liberation.

In Eva Alordiah’s video “Double Double” she challenges many gender norms often inflicted upon female emcees. Her half shaved hair cut, and gold chains definitely make a bold statement, also her  camo shirt and bright purple lipstick shows that she is somewhat neutral in her expression of her sexuality.  While she is not parading around scantily clad she is still exuding a sense of femininity while spitting solid bars. Her confident delivery may be perceived as being un-ladylike, her wide stances and hand gestures are not typically viewed as feminine. Alordiah’s lyrics are witty without being raunchy. Her use of the rihanna sample of “pour it up” makes the song a nice mix between hard core rap, and a more pop vibe.

In  Patty Monroe’s video for “High Fashion” she adheres more to the conventional roles of female sexuality in hip hop. She is wearing more form fitting and slightly revealing clothes while doing things that bring more attention to certain areas of her body. Monroe is very upfront with her use of her sexuality,  her lyrics  include many sexual innuendo’s which at the same challenges some of the gender roles that assume sexually explicit lyrics are mutually exclusive to male emcees.  Eva Alordiah and Patty Monroe both challenge the traditional roles assumed for female emcees through their lyrics, and different displays of female sexuality. They go against the grain in order to continue to excel in their craft in a male dominated field.

Comparing Ghanaian Hip Hop to Nigerian Pop Culture

I’d like to draw your attention to two very talented African artists that have been making major mainstream noise in the music industry and show no signs of slowing down in the future. African rapper Sarkodie and African pop artist WizKid both are musically talented artists but vary differently in the deliverance of their genre of choice. I am going to compare style and lyrics from Sarkodie’s song Adonai ft. Castro to WizKid’s song Ojuelegba. Adonai begins with a nice beat and then soon goes into a steady uptempo tune with Castro speaking and then followed by Sarkodie. Now, this isn’t your average hip-hop song that normally would catch you off guard but Sarkodie is making an ode to God for blessing him with gifts such as his talent amongst other things that he is grateful for. For an artist such as Sarkodie, he raps mostly in his native language which is Twi so you will not understand anything in the song except for the part “Hallelujah”. As noted, he does rap rather fast and he carries all the qualities of being a rapper such as the dark glasses, the choice in clothing and the hand gestures he uses. His style can be considered multifaceted which is always good for rappers trying to tell stories. On the other hand, you have a softer mellow beat when WizKid’s Ojuelegba comes into play. I first heard this song on the radio because the remix had featured Canadian recording Drake. Ojuelegba speaks about Wizkids experience in his native land Nigeria. Unlike Sarkodie, WizKid sings in English use what it sounds like, a little of autotune to enhance his voice. There is one shot in the video that shows him in the studio wearing dark glasses and his chains which definitely separates him from Sarkodie but both artists show gratitude in their songs.

Posted in Ghana, Nigeria, Student Projects

Sarkodie & The Pain Killer

Ghanaian artist Sarkodie bursts onto the scene with a new hit entitled “Pain Killer” featuring Nigerian artist Runtown. Released February 3, 2017, the video for the tune is set in a location filled with trees and mountains which stands as a beautiful backdrop as the two rappers drive down a winding road in a red Jeep, with two very attractive women dancing in the backseat. When watching, one can’t help but to sing along to this catchy melody.

The style of the song has less of a grimy hip-hop beat, but exudes more of a traditional, African beat through the use of drums. The beat is infectious and as a listener, I could not help but vibe to it. In addition, the visuals in the music video were very aesthetically pleasing and matched the tone of the song.

As for the message of the song I received it as such: the girl is Sarkodie and Runtown’s personified version of a pain killer. She makes things easier for them with her beauty and love. Runtown says: “Baebe, Mad for body oo/ Craze for your body oo/Sing for your body oo…” This shows his infatuation for the young lady. His awe is followed up by Sarkodie when he says, “See my baby make i realize/say the groupies and the side chicks all den bi lies/They wear bikini/intentionally to show thighs/Nobody compare to my baby because den bi low price…”With this, Sarkodie is ensuring his love interest that his love is only for her and no one can come between it; not even other, scantilly clad women.

Overall, Sarkodie and Runtown produced a hit that will definitely do well on the hip-hop charts. They created a hip-hop love ballad that differs greatly from the typical, slow-melody love song. The duo offer a fresh feel to the presentation of love in music.

Posted in Nigeria, South Africa, Student Projects

Suburbs vs Slums, Pop vs Hip Hop

The pop video I chose was called, “Jombo” by Kiss Daniel, and the hip-hop video I chose was called, “We Up” by Emtee. Emtee is an artist based in Mataiele, South Africa and Kiss Daniel is from Ogun State, Nigeria.

The first distinct difference I noticed between the two videos was the mood. The mood in the pop video was very happy, positive, and the scenery was clean and healthy. The neighborhood was showing a side of Africa I had not seen before a black suburbs. In the video the people were dancing and enjoying themselves as if life were happy. Where as when watching the hip-hop video I noticed it just seemed like everyone else in the video was not happy except the artist. The people had a more serious vibe as if there was nothing to smile about this is just another day. Most importantly the area the hip-hop video took place did not seem very clean nor healthy.

The lyrics secondly had very different purposes, yet they both were telling a story. The hip-hop video was telling a George Jefferson story, of how they were moving on up. Basically coming from the slums and working hard, the rapper had the intentions to prove something to everyone that had ever doubted him. On the other hand the pop song told a love story. A happy love story about him finding the girl he wanted and trying to convince her parents to give him a chance. Neither story tackles political issues or social issues, yet they are telling individual stories that anyone can relate to.

The most interesting part of the contrast between the two videos, in my opinion, was the American influence. In the pop video, Jombo, there was heavy Nigerian culture influence from the way the people were dressed to the respect he gave her father. However, in the hip hop video the outfit the artist wore and his mannerism were very American hip hop influenced.

Posted in Nigeria, South Africa, Student Projects

Hip hop and Pop in Africa

” War Ready” by Casper Nyovest a South African hip hop artist is an example of more “authentic” hip hop. His hardcore beat reflects the context his lyrics, and the story being told through the music video. In the article ” The Struggle for Hip Hop Authenticity and Against Commercialization in Tanzania” it talked about the importance of artists maintaining the distinction between elitism and self- preservation, this song is a good example of that because while the beat is similar to those that are often times heard in rap music by American artists it still embodies aspects of his own culture. His lyrics seem very genuine in the sense that he sounds as if he is speaking from a place of experience rather than just what would appeal to the masses, and by doing so he is making himself more relatable.

WizKid a Nigerian artists style of music is much different from Casspers Nyovest. While he has a traditional hip hop sound Wizkid is more of an example of a pop artist. His beat is very upbeat and provides a rhythm that can make you want to dance. His music may be deemed as less “authentic” because of the simplicity of the lyrics and beat, it creates a vibe that may be better suited for a party or club environment. Because of the lack of complexity of his music i think it would be easy for WizKid to be received by different audiences, and in terms of the separation between elitism, and self preservation i think that he does a good job of maintaining his culture, and genre while still incorporating some aspects of what is considered to be “authentic” hip hop. I think that both artists represent a clear distinction between Hip Hop and Pop music in Africa.

Posted in Nigeria, South Africa, Student Projects

PSquare VS. Emtee

African hip-hop and African pop differ greatly in terms of style and lyricism. In comparing the video and song of PSquare and Emtee, the differences are exhibited without a doubt. PSquare uses traditional African beats to guide his lyrics, whereas Emtee pushes the agenda with a more rough, hip-hop vibe.

The upbeat song “Bank Alert” by PSquare first brings the culture of Nigeria to life by showcasing the colorful garments of the country on the dancers. This vibrant attire matches perfectly with the energetic tempo of the song. The lyrics denote a sense of happiness as well as they are expressing the wealth of the artist and his desire to marry his fiancé, whose name is not mentioned; PSquare says: Go tell your Papa eeh, say na me dey come for you, eeh-eh. This translates to PSquare declaring that his fiancé must tell her father that she is ready to be married. In Nigerian culture, this signifies a confident, responsible man who is not afraid of commitment.

Artist, Emtee, takes a turn in style by presenting a less energetic feel in his song “Pearl Thusi”. Though the lyrics and the video are not similar to that of PSquare, the South Africa rapper spits fire over a lively baseline. Emtee says:

She’s the best
I don’t see the rest
I don’t need a pest
With all due respect
She can get it for days
I never say it straight to her face
Look how she rocking ’em Js
She gettin’ money in so many ways
She zulu and yellow
Grew up in the ghetto

It is apparent that the two artists songs do have something in common: they are about women. Aside from that, PSquare and Emtee are on two ends of the spectrum that is music. Emtee carries himself in a more grimey, street manner, whereas PSquare flaunts his abundance of money and prosperous relationship over an animated beat.

Check out the two artists videos below:



Posted in Nigeria, South Africa, Student Projects

My first Experience with African Hip Hop

As an African American, my experience with Hip Hop has been limited to the United States and (to a lesser extent) South America and the Caribbean. Until now I have never listened to an artist from an African country. I have always known Hip Hop to be a global phenomena–one which has been appropriated and transformed by cultures from around the world. However, I have had very little exposure to artists from outside the Americas.

The first African Hip Hop artist I listened to was Cassper Nyovest, a prominent artist and record producer in South Africa who is famous for his rpdocution in Hip Hop and Motswako music. The first song I heard from him was the English version of “Doc Shebeleza.” The cadence, tone, and artistic style was very reminiscent of modern American Hip Hop. Even the bombastic and egocentric undertones, which occasionally present themselves in American Hip Hop, were present in this song. English and an indigenous African language mixed creating an artistic experience wherein Nyovest skillfully transitions between languages. Because of this, I am not fully able to understand what is being said. However, in what I am able to understand, there are parallels between what Nyovest raps about and what American Hip Hop artists rap about; a “started from the bottom now I’m here” story, women, and being one of the best rappers in his country (or generation/city).

The next African Hip Hop artist I listened to was D’banj, a Nigerian singer, songwriter, and TV host. His song, Oliver Twist, borrows more from the “pop” genre than Cassper Nyovest’s Doc Shebeleza. The first thing I noticed about Oliver Twist was its use of autotune. The fast rhythm, heavy bass, repetition, and automated singing reminded me of Jamaican Dancehall music. It was difficult, however, to discern what D’banj was talking about in his song. It seemed as though he could have been talking about sex with lines like, “Hey why you come dey shakey, shakey, bum-bum.” At other times he spoke about American artists. “See I like Beyonce, but she dey with Jigga. I like Nikki, her yarsh is bigger.” His message wasn’t clear. However, I am assuming that the point of Oliver Twist was to produce a song for young people to dance to.

Posted in Nigeria, Student Projects

Hip Hop VS Pop in Nigeria

You can turn on the radio today, here in America, and easily find both pop and hip hop songs. Many artists have managed to have both genres on the radio. Even Kanye West has been fluent in both as he has evolved or, as some might think, devolved as an artist. He’s done songs that are undeniably hip hop and songs that would be seen as more pop. This versatility among musicians has translated over to Africa causing a debate on who’s an MC (can freestyle and writes their own lyrics) and who’s just a rapper (not necessarily skilled at the art of freestyle and can have a ghostwriter for the sake of having the fame as an entertainer). This has also made it a bit difficult for some people to tell the difference between pop and hip hop songs. In Nigeria, there’s a strong fan-base for both genres who’s artists, in many cases, end up collaborating.

One pop artist from Nigeria named Yemi Alade is becoming a household name as a pop star with hit songs like Johnny and Tumbum thanks to her African pride and catchy songs about different relationship situations. Her songs for the most part are, without a doubt, pop songs. From her auto-tuned voice to the fast paced, repetitive and catchy rhythms and lyrics Yemi is true to the genre. For the music video of her song Want you, we’re given a simple and upbeat rhythm that is paired with Yemi wearing bright colors on a sunny day. As you could probably guess, she is singing about a guy that she wants but it’s not sang in a longing and passionate way but rather in a more playful way. There are many scenes that show her dancing with backup dancers in bright colors while there are also scenes of her and other characters having miscellaneous fun together on the beach.

These elements are commonly found in music videos for pop artists like Meghan Trainor or Katy Perry. Artists like Yemi Alade create songs that are meant to cheer people up, make them want to dance, and most of all get stuck in people’s heads. It’s a very obvious goal when you notice her lyrics at the chorus are “I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I want YOU!” It’s a very common trait to find. A pop artist relies on emphasizing a very short and sweet point whereas a hip hop artist relies on taking multiple related points and finding clever ways of fitting the right words together to say them. Now, don’t get me wrong, Yemi Alade is honestly my girl-crush thanks to her ever changing natural hair styles and her bright, Afrocentric outfits.

In contrast to the pop music, there’s a Nigerian hip hop artist who goes by the name Falz who is a small scale musician and has found mild success with songs like Soldier and Marry Me (which, mind you, is featuring my girl Yemi). There was one music video of his that I was able to find that had over a million views and was not featuring another artist called Soft Work. The first thing that I noticed was the rhythm, which could easily be mistaken for a pop song at the beginning if you were only listening to the instrumentals due to its simple claps and dreamy electric keyboard run. Falz jumps in with the lyrics about how his lifestyle is filled with expensive things and not much regard for anyone/anything else.

This theme has been found in many hip hop songs (but definitely not all) where the artist is living the life they’ve been striving for and they express it in the best way they know how: by rapping. The song is all raps (no singing, not even during the chorus) but it still holds many pop-like elements in the music video like how every last one of his props in the video from the pink car to the yellow couch and the red cup are vibrant colors as well as those who surround him. As he raps to the camera there’s a bunch of attractive men and women (mostly women) having a dance party all around him. The video focuses on beautiful women and expensive things. The contrast from a typical pop song that this song has is that despite having lyrics about being happy and rich, Falz kept a very calm and nonchalant tone unlike Yemi’s song where she longed for a guy yet she sounds fun and joyous.

Personally, despite identifying as a hip hop artist, I would honestly place Falz under the title “rapper” which, depending who you are, isn’t something to be ashamed of. If it’s giving you the lifestyle and satisfaction you’ve been seeking then it’s no problem in my mind. There are, though, many artists from Africa (yes, not just Nigeria) who, without a doubt, are MC’s who could mesmerize you with their on-the-spot lyrics and impeccable flow. It shouldn’t be too hard, though, all you’ve got to do is listen out for them.