HHAP Episode 23: Free Speech, Censorship, and Protest in China and South Africa

This podcast is the panel discussion titled “Free Speech, Censorship and Protest”, that was held at the 13th annual Trinity International Hip Hop Festival at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. The discussion addressed issues of censorship and free speech in hip hop, in both China and South Africa. The artists discussed their own careers in hip hop, and hip hop culture in their countries.

The panel featured 

MC Puos, a Chinese artist based in Shanghai. He is a co-founder of Bang, China’s 1st hip hop magazine, and a founding member of the hip hop collective DDM. He also launched a startup education technology company to promote hip hop culture in China, and recently released a documentary on hip hop in China.
Dana Burton (@DetroitShowtyme), an American artist based in Shanghai. After leaving Detroit for China, he became involved in the hip hop scene in China and created Iron Mike, a national rap battle that takes place in China.
Emile YX (@EmileYX), a South African artist based in Cape Town. He is a member of the pioneering hip hop group Black Noise, and is the founder of the hip hop based community organization Heal the Hood.
The panel was moderated by Dr. Msia Kibona Clark (@kibona), from Howard University

This podcast is the panel discussion titled “Free Speech, Censorship and Protest”, that was held at the 13th annual Trinity International Hip Hop Festival at Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut. The discussion addressed issues of censorship and free speech in hip hop, in both China and South Africa. The artists discussed their own careers in hip hop, and hip hop culture in their countries.

The panel featured

  • MC Puos, a Chinese artist based in Shanghai. He is a co-founder of Bang, China’s 1st hip hop magazine, and a founding member of the hip hop collective DDM. He also launched a startup education technology company to promote hip hop culture in China, and recently released a documentary on hip hop in China.
  • Dana Burton (@DetroitShowtyme), an American artist based in Shanghai. After leaving Detroit for China, he became involved in the hip hop scene in China and created Iron Mike, a national rap battle that takes place in China.
  • Emile YX (@EmileYX), a South African artist based in Cape Town. He is a member of the pioneering hip hop group Black Noise, and is the founder of the hip hop based community organization Heal the Hood.

The panel was moderated by Dr. Msia Kibona Clark (@kibona), from Howard University

HHAP Episode 23: Uganda’s Ruyonga on African/African American Relations, Black Panther, Politics, and Christianity

This interview with Ugandan artist Ruyonga, formerly known as Krukid, is an in-depth discussion on the artist’s perspective on the Black experience, relations between African Americans and Africans in America, his issues with the Black Panther film, being a Christian MC, and his perspective on laws and politics in Uganda.

Ruyonga studied in the U.S. in the early 2000s. He began rapping in Uganda before coming to the States, and he established an underground career in the U.S. and became known for his distinct sound and strong lyrical ability. After almost a decade in the US, Ruyonga returned to Uganda. He changed his name to Ruyonga and built his career as a Christian rapper.

After a long stay Ruyonga has an interesting perspective on being an African immigrant in America, and the tensions between African and African American communities. He talks about those tensions from an African immigrant perspective, and comments on the diverse racial and ethnic dynamics he saw in different parts of the United States. The conversation turns towards pop culture and race and Ruyonga has strong feelings about the Black Panther and the representations of Africans in the film, and Hollywood’s presentation of the Black experience.

Ruyonga also opens up about his views on race, Black pride, and feminism, as well as his views on the ways different groups of people have been pitted against each other. Part of the conversation includes the artist’s views on some of Uganda’s more controversial laws regarding women and sexuality, especially the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Still a strong lyricist, Ruyonga now uses Christianity as the vehicle with which to express his lyricism. His latest release is Voice Of My Father, and follows an impressive body of work that spans over 10 years. Ruyonga is on

BandCamp at https://ruyonga.bandcamp.com

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/ruyonga/482094271

Twitter: @ruyongamusic

Episode Breakdown
7:30 “African American, American African”
9:30 “Pearl City Anthem”
11:45 “Hand of God”
12:40 Background and move to the US
14:00 The Black Experience
15:15 African & African American relations
23:42 The Black Panther movie & Hollywood
29:33 Black pride, feminism
32:00 The return to Uganda
35:45 Language
37:18 Christianity & politics

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 23: Uganda’s Ruyonga on African/African American Relations, Black Panther, Politics, and Christianity”

Student Project: Podcast Interview with Dr. Clark

This podcast was an interview with Dr. Msia Clark. Throughout the course of this conversation we explore the specificity of the study of Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa; touching on topics such as hyper-sexualization of women and gender representations in hip-hop, the link between social movements such as Y’en A Marre, the Arab Spring, and Black Lives Matter, etc and the social vehicle and platform hip-hop has provided to social movements around the world, the African hip-hop renaissance, and finally the highs and lows of teaching a joint African hip-hop course split between an HBCU and PWI

Continue reading “Student Project: Podcast Interview with Dr. Clark”

Student Project: Sierra Leone: The Hip Hop Hub

In our podcast on the discussion of hip-hop in Sierra Leone, we have come to the conclusion that hip-hop historically raises consciousness in its audience. Today, we see artists moving away from conscious rap to mote mainstream music in exchange for compensation. This migration away from the more conscious side of hip-hop is a representation of duality. In the case of Sierra Leone, Daddy Saj represents conscious rap while K-Man represents the hip-hop pop fusion. For the purpose of balance one can conclude that both sides of this hip-hop equation are necessary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXjwCPkebo0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2Iu2GIKdMA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jOqOlETcRU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnrbCNz2XcM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS2cuB414R4


Continue reading “Student Project: Sierra Leone: The Hip Hop Hub”

Student Project: Hip-Hop artists use of protest and combat songs to challenge censorship in Africa

Too often people perceive the genre of hip-hop to be “angry” music. Across all cultures, Hip-Hop music is negatively stigmatized as loud, vulgar, and explicit, without any acknowledgement of its deep messages. People fail to realize that these songs are meant to serve as cries for help. It is essential for listeners to see past the intense voice behind the mike and recognize the place of frustration that the lyrics are coming from. 
The shared grievances among Africans have made the continent a breeding ground for lyrical outcry. In Africa, Hip-Hop music has served as a form of expression, activism and social consciousness. Artists create protest songs that highlight issues impacting their environments such as State violence, corruption, and poverty. In a similar fashion, some other artists take it a step further by producing combat music which puts fear in the hearts of their oppressors. Although overlooked, the intentional and strategic nature of the Hip-Hop genre, is an area worthy of attention. The podcast will show how Hip-Hop Artists from North Africa, Togo, and Liberia use their voice to deliver raw messages of oppression despite the struggle with government censorship and prosecution. Through the use of protest and combat songs, you will see how artists establish influence and catalyze change in their countries.

Furthermore, the podcast will briefly draw a comparison to Hip-Hop culture in America. The commonalities between the two places will reveal how people, irrespective of region, use the genre to make a call to action, by exposing deeply rooted issues. We hope that this podcast will debunk negative stereotypes surrounding hip-hop and shine a positive light on its lyrical power.

The podcast will feature the following songs: Warning: some songs occasionally contain strong language (which may be unsuitable for children)

El General – “Rais LeBled”- 2010

Elom20ce – “Vodoo Sakpata” – 2015

Takun J – “Policeman” – 2007

NWA – “F*ck the police” – 1988

The Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy” – 1994

(Introduction and ending song by Tekno – “Yur Luv” – 2018)

Work cited
“El Général, the voice of Tunisia, English subtitles”. YouTube, uploaded by Michelangelo Severgnini, January 10 2011,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeGlJ7OouR0

“Elom 20ce – Vodoo Sakpata (Official Video)”. YouTube, uploaded by THUMP, September 14 2015,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3g_ECtpM8E

“Liberian musician Takun J talks about “Police Man””. YouTube, uploaded by TakunJTheHipCoKing, January 11 2012,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrYieEMNKoA&t=506s

“N.W.A. fuck the police with lyrics”. YouTube, uploaded by MegaTuvieja, November 8 2011,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu6r7Yd_iG8

“Policeman”. YouTube, uploaded by Elton Djxman, February 23 2013,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqLS3tUPVjQ

“Tekno – Yur Luv (Official Video)”. YouTube, uploaded by TeknoMilesVEVO, March 21 2018,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d_jkY2444s

“The Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy” (Official Video)”. YouTube, uploaded by The Notorious B.I.G., September 6 2011,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JZom_gVfuw

Asawin Suebsaeng, “The FBI Agent Who Hunted N.W.A”, Daily Beast, August 14, 2015,https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-fbi-agent-who-hunted-nwa

Benjamin Lebrave, “This Rapper Is Defying Togolese Censorship to Tell Stories About Africa’s Political Problems’, Thump Vice, September 14 2015.https://thump.vice.com/en_us/article/wny3e9/this-rapper-is-defying-togolese-censorship-to-tell-stories-about-africas-political-problems

Clark, Msia Kibona. (2012). Hip hop as social commentary in Accra and Dar es Salaam. African Studies Quarterly, 13 (3), 23-46.

Olivier Morrison, “Turn That Down! 40 Banned and Censored Songs”, National Coalition Against Censorship, March 3 2015,http://ncac.org/blog/turn-that-down-40-banned-and-censored-songs

Vivienne Wait, “El Général and the Rap Anthem of the Mideast Revolution”, TIME, Tuesday February 15, 2011http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2049456,00.html


Continue reading “Student Project: Hip-Hop artists use of protest and combat songs to challenge censorship in Africa”

Student Project: Blitz the Ambassador’s Contribution to being Afropolitan

This video-podcast showcases Blitz contribution through a definition of Afropolitan and the description of how Blitz embodies this idea through his own musical recipe. The videos featured are Make You No Forget, Shine, and Running, which can be found on YouTube.

HHAP Episode 22: Thiat of Keur Gui on Hip Hop and Activism Beyond Senegal

In a time when hip hop culture has been under heavy criticism for the lack of political content in commercial hip hop, Keur Gui reminds us of what hip hop culture is capable of, in terms of both social commentary and political action. As founding members of the social and political movement Y’en A Marre (Enough is Enough), Keur Gui has provided heavy social commentary in their music for over 20 years. Coming out of Senegal, which is perhaps one of the most political hip hop scenes in the world, Keur Gui has used hip hop culture to engage with their audiences and to confront the state. Y’en A Marre is one of the only social movements deeply rooted in hip hop culture to effect political change. In Senegal, Y’en A Marre was involvement in mass mobilization campaigns, helped register voters, engaged in social protest, and promoted an ideology known as New Type of Senegalese (NTS). The idea behind NTS is that calls for social change go beyond requests for government action, but also rests in responsible citizenship. While the people may call for government-led development, the people also need to take responsibility for their contributions to environmental and social problems.Y’en A Marre is an ongoing movement, which has focused on Senegalese helping Senegalese. One of the projects Keur Gui is currently working on is a fundraiser to build a recording studio in their hometown Kaolack. The fundraiser can be found at http://projects.keurgui.net.
Follow Up with Keur Gui
Facebook: /KEUR-GUI-53925096450/
Twitter: @KEURGUIOFFICIEL
SoundCloud: /keurguicrewofficiel
Keur Gui on iTunes: /keur-gui/275586170
In this interview we speak with Thiat, one of the MCs in Keur Gui. Thiat discusses Keur Gui’s involvement in Y’en A Marre, the spread of the movement outside of Senegal, revised perspectives on Pan Africanism, the role of MCs in civil society, and more.
Episode Breakdown
6:33: “Nothing to Prove”, f/Kokayi (https://twitter.com/kokayi)
9:50: History of Keur Gui & their involvement in politics
20:49: Hip hop in Senegal
23:46: The rise of Y’en a Marre
27:57: New Type of Senegalese (NTS)
31:10: The spread of activism outside of Senegal
36:28: A new type of Pan Africanism
41:22: Hip Hop in East Africa
43:33: MCs as politicians and MCs as part of civil society
45:13: Upcoming music projects
47:28: Their fundraiser for the Kaolack studio
49:43: “Marginaux”
Scholarship on Y’en A Marre and Keur Gui
Berktay, Aligul. (2014). Pikine’s Hip Hop Youth Say “Enough is Enough” and Pave the Way for Continuous Social Change. Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati.
Fredericks, Rosalind. (2014). “The old man is dead”: hip hop and the arts of citizenship of Senegalese youth. Antipode, 46(1), 130-148.
Gueye, Marame. (2013). Urban guerrilla poetry: The movement Y’en a Marre and the socio-political influences of hip hop in Senegal. Journal of Pan African Studies, 8 (3), 22-42.
Lo, Sheba. (2014). Building our nation: Hip hop artists as agents of social and political change. Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati.
Prause, Lousia. (2013). Mit Rap zur Revolte: Die Bewegung Y’en a marre. Prokla, 43(1), 23-41.
Senghor, Fatou Kande. (2015). Wala Bok: Une histoire orale du hip hop au Senegal. Amalion Publishing.

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 22: Thiat of Keur Gui on Hip Hop and Activism Beyond Senegal”

HHAP Episode 21: Yugen Blakrok on Hip Hop Lyricism & the Black Panther Project

This month we speak with Johannesburg-based MC, Yugen Blakrok. Yugen Black is a South African MC, who was recently featured on the Black Panther soundtrack. Her style is distinctive and blends several different elements together in a strong lyrical flow. Her music do not contain many of the topics often found in hip hop that is heavy with braggadocio, or sexuality. In Yugen Blakrok’s music you mind find references to her Xhosa identity, Asian martial arts (ala Wu Tang), or to Black consciousness ideas and figures. Her flows sound like layered streams of consciousness, and do not fit neatly into one adjective.

In this episode we speak with her about her music career, her unique style, her 2013 album Return of the Astro-Goth, her most recent work on the Black Panther soundtrack, and her upcoming projects. 

Yugen Blakrok’s first album was Return of the Astro-Goth: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/return-of-the-astro-goth/814084115
The Black Panther Soundtrack: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/black-panther-the-album-music-from-and-inspired-by/1331258584
Yugen Blakrok on Twitter: @YugenBlakrok | Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YugenBlakrok/  | Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yugenblakrok/

This month we speak with Johannesburg-based MC, Yugen Blakrok. Yugen Black is a South African MC, who was recently featured on the Black Panther soundtrack. Her style is distinctive and blends several different elements together in a strong lyrical flow. Her music do not contain many of the topics often found in hip hop that is heavy with braggadocio, or sexuality. In Yugen Blakrok’s music you mind find references to her Xhosa identity, Asian martial arts (ala Wu Tang), or to Black consciousness ideas and figures. Her flows sound like layered streams of consciousness, and do not fit neatly into one adjective. Continue reading “HHAP Episode 21: Yugen Blakrok on Hip Hop Lyricism & the Black Panther Project”

Episode 21 Promo

Next month’s episode of the podcast will be available March 1 and will feature an interview with South Africa’s Yugen Blakrok.

HHAP Episode 20: Nazlee Saif on Hip Hop, Sexuality, Race, & Protest in Cape Town

Our conversation with Cape Town based hip hop and spoken word artist Nazlee Saif centers on discussions of race, gender, religion, sexuality, and activism. This conversation centers on the use of hip hop as a cultural space within which to engage several different social issues, and to deconstruct social taboos that continue to exist within hip hop culture.

Nazlee Saif is a spoken word and hip hop artist originally from Durban, who moved to Cape Town and attended the University of Cape Town (UCT) during the height of the #RhodesMustFall movement. Nazlee, who was already a socially conscious artist, was an activist and organizer in the movement on the UCT campus. Nazlee, as a queer identified, Muslim, MC, also brings those intersecting identities into the hip hop, a culture that has historically been very patriarchal, very misogynistic, and hostile to queer voices.

In the conversation Nazlee Saif talks about several topic, including the #RhodesMustFall movement at UCT, intersectionality, being Black & Coloured, queer identities, being a Muslim & queer MC, Steve Biko and Black consciousness, the term “Hoteps”, and feminism.

Nazlee Saif’s presence in hip hop challenges hip hop’s masculine, heteronormative culture. Nazlee Saif expresses strong stances on topics of race, sexuality, and religion. The artist’s discussion of a level of frustration with Black Consciousness, as well as the term “Hoteps”, may put Nazlee Saif at odds with some Pan Africanists.

Nazlee on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwNoj0WTO0fAoKG0fagDFxQ

Nazlee on Twitter: @NazleeArbee

Readings

Clark, Msia Kibona. 2014. “Gendered Representations among Tanzanian Female Emcees”. In Ni Wakati: Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa, edited by Msia Kibona Clark and Mickie Koster. Lanham, MD: Lexington Press.

Haupt, Adam. 2016. Queering Hip-Hop, Queering the City: Dope Saint Jude’s Transformative Politics. M/C Journal, 19(4).

Smith, Marquita R., 2014. “Or a Real, Real Bad Lesbian”: Nicki Minaj and the Acknowledgement of Queer Desire in Hip-Hop Culture. Popular Music and Society, 37(3), pp.360-370.

Our conversation with Cape Town based hip hop and spoken word artist Nazlee Saif centers on discussions of race, gender, religion, sexuality, and activism. This conversation centers on the use of hip hop as a cultural space within which to engage several different social issues, and to deconstruct social taboos that continue to exist within hip hop culture.

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 20: Nazlee Saif on Hip Hop, Sexuality, Race, & Protest in Cape Town”