The power of women on the hip hop scene is growing each day in Africa. Female hip hop artist often struggle to get there music and art pushed into the mainstream of a genre that has been historically male dominated. I believe this is the reason that these women are producing more revolutionary hip hop art. Two artist that have made particularly creative music videos are Little Simz, who hails from London but is born to Nigerian parents, and Patty Monroe, who was born and raised in South Africa. These artist show very different sides of the artistic spectrum in the themes they convey and hopefully this blog can give some insight into their messages.
Today on The Hip-Hop African Blog we analyze the comparison between Nigerian rapper Davido’s song “Coolest kid in Africa” featuring, awesome, South African rapper Nasty C and Kenyan pop singer/rapper Stella Mwangi’s song “Koolio.” Both songs are exciting and begin with catchy beats, however, where Davido’s “Coolest kid in Africa” starts low and slow, with heavy bass and a sick trap beat drop, Stella’s “Koolio” picks up the pace with a faster electro-hop beat that is reminiscent of Pitbull’s I” I Know You Want Me.”
In Davido’s song “ Coolest kid in Africa” he describes that the reasons that he is the coolest are that he is both rich and connected, has enough money to change your life, if you let him, and because of the amount of women who choose to accompany him wherever he goes. Whereas, Stella in “Koolio” describes her “Koolness” as a product of her awesome life, which you should already know about, because of her gangsta style, though she does profess to not be a gangsta. Additionally, she suggests that you should not try to hinder her style or movements, because she keeps her Kool cooler that Coolio, which is not only a metaphor for being the pinnacle of coolness, but also a reference to famous 90’s Hip Hop Artist Coolio, who was known for not only his Coolness but his gangsta lifestyle, point of reference “Gangsta’s Paradise.”
The biggest comparison between the two can be found in Nasty C’s verse on the “Coolest kid in Africa” which connects the party vibe of knowing how cool he is, much like how Stella professes her coolness as a fact before the song, to the concept of finding out how cool he is like Davido suggests throughout the song. Two braggadocio songs professing to how cool the other is based on previous memory of their exploits.
Young and Talented African Hip Hop Artists to Keep an Eye Out for in 2017
Each year, a new crop of hip hop artists break out of obscurity and make significant waves in the scene. Some of the qualities that endear these rookie performers to fans are their fresh sound, their distinctive voice, and, of course, their brilliant perspective of music in general.
It’s difficult to predict who will burst from the underground scene and create an impact instantly, however, more often than not, these unbelievably talented musicians sprout up from nowhere. It also helps to have modern technology expediting the process, providing the mainstream with the latest hip hop stars.
A couple of years ago, Hip Hop African’s Msia Kibona Clark wrote a feature on the role of technology in Tanzanian music production. The writer underlined the importance of targeting a specific audience, listeners that rely heavily on social media websites, mobile apps, and other digital pursuits. Gaming Realms, creator and operator of online gaming giants Spin Genie, claims that since consumers have altered their media consumption habits, many technological firms have followed suit. They also pointed out that 80% of their revenues now come from mobile, thus industries like music are now seeking mass promotion on mobile-friendly mediums.
When it comes to the entire African hip hop scene, the majority of upcoming artists utilise technology to either produce music, promote their brand, or both. Thanks to technology, they now have plenty of platforms to share their unique voice to the world. Having said that, here are some of the young and talented hip hop artists to keep an eye out for in 2017.
Frank Casino (South Africa)
There’s no denying: Frank Casino is the face of African hip hop as of this moment. Music Unites Africa even wrote a piece that previews his upcoming LP, Something From Me, and tells readers why he’s the real deal. Frank Casino can even be credited for the growth of the South African hip hop culture.
Courtesy of: youtube
Lorine Chia (Cameroon)
Lorine Chia is a rare talent. She’s one of those exceptional artists who not only has a powerful, soulful, and smooth voice, but can also play a slew of musical instruments. Her unbelievable aptitude in music opened the door for collaborations with famous hip hop artists such as The Game and Chance the Rapper.
Courtesy of: youtube
More than a so-called “YouTube sensation,” Tekno seems to have what it takes to go the distance. His song, Pana, has over 20 million views on YouTube, which gave it a place at the top of the Nigerian music charts. In addition to YouTube hits and chart rankings, Tekno has the looks and the talent that attracted American record label, Columbia Records.
Courtesy of: youtube
Phy made the most of winning the first season of Maisha Superstar, an East African music talent competition similar to The X Factor and The Voice. She has that distinct sultry yet silky voice, making her stand out in a sea of new artists. Her debut album, Phylosophy, garnered praise from the big wigs in the industry, which prompted her to release a seven-track EP featuring covers of classic Kenyan songs a year later.
Courtesy of: youtube
Roden Y (Uganda)
There’s nothing quite like the stage presence of Ugandan artist, Roden Y. He has a certain stage presence that makes his audience stand in awe of him. Roden Y’s most popular single, Number Emu (Kabbako), truly represents his overall image: enigmatic, energetic, and wild.
Courtesy of: youtube
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
” 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.
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: