HHAP Ep. 79.5: Announcements and Celebrating 50 Years of Hip Hop
This is a short episode we recorded to send out a couple of announcements and to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop.
HHAP Ep 79: Hip-Hop culture as a space where Black identities are negotiated and presented
The first episode of 2023 is a special episode on hip-hop as a cultural space where Black identities can be negotiated and presented. The research project was part of a larger seminar project with the University of Maryland College Park on African/Black Diaspora Studies. The larger project was funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The overall project focused on: “the dynamics of race, ethnicity, gender, and interactions between and among first and second-generation African diaspora immigrants and native-born African Americans in the U.S.” My project explores representations of Black identities and shared experiences by African hip-hop artists in the US. The initial objective was to examine the music of 2nd generation African artists in America to understand how they Represent Black identities Discuss shared experiences Represent Africa This was done via a content analysis of their songs & interviews. The artists could be classified as Millennials and Generation Z artists. The music of these artists differed from the music produced by 1st generation African hip-hop artists. The early 2000s saw a small group of hip-hop artists who had all migrated to the US around the same time, usually for college, and would find varying degrees of success. Some of these artists stayed in the U.S., and others migrated home. Their presence was followed by an increase in African music on mainstream platforms, & collaborations between artists of 1st or 2gen African ancestry and artists of multi-generation African ancestry (African Americans). Hip-hop’s structure as a genre that is largely autobiographical lends itself to being a conduit for meaningful conversations around race, gender, sexuality, & politics. These artists were nuanced in their coverage of topics of immediate concern to other African & diaspora communities. We saw the articulation of African American & African connections among several African hip-hop artists who came to the U.S. in the early 2000s. Interestingly, many of those artists were Ghanaian. Artists like Blitz (the Ambassador) Bazawule, Wanlov the Kubolor, M3nsa, Minista of Agrikulcha, & M.anifest all arrived from a country whose place in Pan-African history had been well established. “In our simplicity we are elegant/so to us your coat and tie are irrelevant/give up my culture for your religion?, I can’t” Wanlov the Kubolor, “Gentleman” Other artists like, K’naan (Somalia), Krukid/Ruyonga (Uganda), and Shad (Kenya) also would speak to those connections. These artists may have impacted the growth of African music in the US. This growth led to the emergence of afrobeats artists like Davido, Burna Boy, Shatta Wale, & others. In looking at 2nd generation African artists, I identified 583 songs by 10 Millenial and Generation Z artists. Again, I wanted to find representations of Black identities, African identities, and shared experiences between Africans and African Americans. The artists were: Nipsey Hussle (1985): Los Angeles/African American and Eritrean parents Lola Monroe (1986): Washington, DC/Ethiopia Bas (1987): New York/Paris/Sudan Maxo Kream (1990): Houston/Nigeria Wale (1984): Washington, DC/Nigeria Amine (1994): Portland/Eritrea & Ethiopia Chika (1997): Montgomery (Alabama)/Nigeria Doja Cat (1995): Los Angeles/American and South African parents Earl Sweatshirt (1994): Chicago & Los Angeles/African American and South African parents Thutmose (1995): New York/Nigeria In the review of over 500 songs, very few had any references to African identities or shared experiences. Notable exceptions include Wale’s “My Sweetie” and Amine’s “Roots” During the research, it became clear that there needed to be a more global consideration of what African hip-hop artists are saying. There are artists in other parts of the Diaspora, especially in England, France, and Australia and they complicate Black identities even further. A more global perspective on Black identities helps us to fully understand hip hop’s role in shifting conversations around identity. Some of the European artists studied include. Sefyu (1981) France/Senegal Shay (1990) Belgium/Congo Bree Runway (1992) UK/Ghana Stormzy (1993) UK/Ghana Niska (1994) France/Congo Enny (1994) UK/Nigeria Little Simz (1994) UK/Nigeria Shaybo (1996) UK/Nigeria J Hus (1996) UK/The Gambia The songs played in this episode are “My Sweetie” by Wale “Roots” by Amine “I Want” by Enny “Woman” by Little Simz “En noir et blanc” by Sefyu “Gentleman” by M.anifest and Wanlov the Kubolor “Dollar & a Dream” by Blitz the Ambassador
HHAP Ep78: Eavesdrop on Cultivating Spaces for Authenticity in Hip-Hop￼
Eavesdrop is a multi-hyphenate artist who is an MC, a producer, a director, and an actor. She has been active in Cape Town’s Hip-Hop scene for almost 2 decades and as a lyricist she often produces meaningful lyrics, expressing ideas that have depth. In this interview, we had an important conversation with Eavesdrop about the importance of representation and authenticity. We talked honestly about sometimes feeling conflicted on how best to support younger artists, especially women. Strength and confidence are a prerequisite for being a Hip-Hop artist, and we reflect on how to support other women while encouraging them to rely on their own strength and confidence to excel. “If you need me to hold this door open for you, how are you going to learn the weight of this door?” Eavesdrop We also discuss South Africa’s political history and how that influences the presence and participation of women in Hip-Hop. Eavesdrop introduces us to the concept of “imbokodo” (“rock” in Zulu”), which emerged during the anti-apartheid movement. A common chant during the movement was “Wathint’abafazi, wathint’imbokodo!” (“You strike women, you strike a rock!”). “As an MC you’re seen as imbokodo, you’re seen as that rock, you’re seen as that pillar, and you are somehow helping to preserve that legacy that your country is known for … for its strong women” Eavesdrop We also talk about the cost of authenticity. Eavesdrop says that being authentic to yourself as an artist is freedom. It often does not mean wealth, but it does mean freedom. In an industry where some equate talent and success with material things, placing higher importance on wealth than on the actual art or the message, Eavesdrop reflects on the importance of being her authentic self “When you live in the ghetto, your TV is never off… It’s just constantly running a program on you.. we have a lot of work to do in terms of rewriting that code” Eavesdrop
HHAP Ep77: DJ Azuhl on Hip-Hop & DJing Culture in South Africa
DJ Azuhl (djazuhl.net) is a prominent South African DJ with Beat Bangaz (beatbangaz.net), a DJ collective in Cape Town. He was born and raised in Cape Town and has been involved in the Hip-Hop community in Cape Town since the 1980s. DJ Azuhl started out breakdancing with the legendary Breaking crew Brasse Vannie Kaap (BVK). He’s a co-founder of the Beat Bangaz DJ Academy and Beat Bangaz Radio. He also works with Hip Hop Education South Africa. In this interview, DJ Azuhl talks about the early years of Hip-Hop in Cape Town, especially during the years that South Africa was under apartheid rule. DJ Azuhl also shares his perspective on DJing and Hip-Hop culture in South Africa, and the art form of the Hip-Hop DJ. Cape Town’s old-school artists are often heavily involved in mentoring young Hip-Hop heads, and DJ Azuhl talks about the importance of reaching back and giving back to the culture.
HHAP Ep76: FOKN Bois on Satire and Music as Social Commentary
Ghanaian hip hop duo FOKN Bois use satire to convey important social commentary on religion, politics, and sexuality. In this episode, they share their experiences and the thoughts that have gone into music and the messages they deliver. The duo talks about their decision to rap and write in Pidgin English, which they say stems from needing to “express more of self” to reach their own people. For them, rapping and writing in Pidgin English “brought a new sense of freedom and originality”. Wanlov and M3nsa also discuss their reputations for being rebellious and the need to incorporate humor into their conscious rhymes; and how they sneak “difficult conversations” into their comedic rhyme schemes to reduce resistance to the message that they come to deliver to their people. As Wanlov the Kubolor exclaims: “It’s extremely cathartic to be able to turn your problems into laughter”. Additionally, in responding to student questions, FOKN Bois share with the students their creative process and influences, and the things that keep them going. FOKN Bois are online on Twitter and Soundcloud @foknbois
HHAP EP. 75: Skilled Rhymes and the Bordertowns on the Volta: Ghana’s Keeny Ice
In this episode of The Hip-Hop in Africa Podcast, we interview Ghanaian Hip-Hop artist Keeny Ice, from the bordertown of Aflao in the Volta Region of Ghana. Keeny Ice, whose lyrics are fast-paced, and rhymes complex, mixes languages, but primarily raps in Ewe. The talented lyricist joins us for part of our special spring podcast series with Words Beats & Life. Keeny Ice is online at: SoundCloud: @keenyice FB: @KeenyIceGH/ IG: @keenyice The episode was produced by Kilimanjaro Studios in Beltsville, MD
HHAP Ep. 74: Fid Q on Hip Hop, Language, & Culture in Tanzania
In this episode of Hip-Hop in Africa Podcast, have a long-awaited interview with Tanzanian artist, Fid Q. The conversation begins with a discussion of Fid Q’s legacy in Tanzanian Hip-Hop and his impact on the genre. We discuss his connection to Tanzanian youth and his impact on his music as he relates to his listeners on a deeper level. The conversation continues to discuss his previous projects that have been influential to his career and how he plans to move forward with similar Hip-Hop projects. We also discuss the future of Tanzanian Hip-Hop, his collaborations, and his thought process behind collaborating with the various artists he worked with. Fid Q also touches on how he pays homage to legendary MCs in the pioneering Hip-Hop group Kwanza Unit. He explains his perspective on the differences between the older generation of MCs versus the younger generation. The discussion continues onto the controversy surrounding languages used in the Tanzanian music industry. This moves the interview to speak on globalization and how it has changed Tanzania to speak English and other languages. Fid Q does mention that it is imperative to be proud of tradition as well, regardless of the choice of language used in an artist’s music. While globalization has caused controversy regarding language, we touch on how music is able to travel beyond borders to reach wider audiences, even mentioning how Fid Q’s music has become international. Fid Q mentions how his music is listened to and his struggle with streaming. The interview ends with questions around Tanzanian Hip-Hop artists being invited to perform in the U.S. Fid Q is on Twitter @FidQ & Instagram @therealfidq Part of the interview was recorded at Kilimanjaro Studios.
HHAP Ep 73: A Discussion on Race and Identity in South African Hip Hop
In part 2 of our conversation with Dr. Sipho Sithole, he discusses the regional differences in South African hip hop. He talks about the hip hop scenes in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. He also discusses the linguistic differences in South African hip hop and the role ethnic identity plays in the styles and languages artists utilize. He also looks at the evolution of pop music in South Africa, from kwaito, to gqom, to amapiano. Sipho also discusses the dynamics within Coloured communities in South Africa, and the relationships between Black and Coloured South Africans. He provides history of the origins of Coloured South Africans among the Khoi & San (first nation) communities, and their forming close-knit communities. The hip hop that came out of those communities, largely based in Cape Town, addressed the social ills happening in the Coloured townships. In looking at the divisions between Black and Coloured South Africans, we compare it to the relationships between African Americans and African immigrants in the U.S. There are not many discussions around Black & Coloured relations in South African hip hop, so it was important to get a perspective on the history of those relationships. Intro song: “Yesterday” with Zakwe, Zuluboy, & Zola Dr. Sipho Sithole (@DrSiphoSithole) is a Research Fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (University of Johannesburg) and holds a PhD in Anthropology, a B.Sc in Political Science and International Relations, and an M. Sc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. Dr. Sithole’s research revolves around language identity, culture, migration, and integration. Sithole has a long career in hip hop & is the founder and owner of an important and multi-award-winning music production house, Native Rhythms Productions, & Native Rhythms Records.