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”

HHAP Episode 19: Quentin Williams on Multilingualism & Hip Hop in South Africa

This episode, South African hip hop scholar and sociolinguist Dr. Quentin Williams discusses his new book Remix Multilingualism: Hip Hop, Ethnography and Performing Marginalized Voice (Bloomsbury Press). 

Dr. Williams is a Senior Lecturer in the Linguistics Department at the University of Western Cape. He has published papers and book chapters on the performance of multilingualism, popular cultural practices (specifically Hip Hop), agency and voice in urban multilingual spaces. In addition to the book we’ll be discussing today, he is also currently editing the book Kaapse Styles: Hip Hop Art & Activism in Cape Town, South Africa.

Dr. Williams has been writing on language and hip hop in South Africa for several years, and has extensive credibility within South Africa’s well established hip hop community. Dr. Williams’ research and work has also made valuable contributions to the field of linguistics.  

In this interview we discuss the book, Dr. Williams research on South African hip hop, and ultimately his place as a Coloured man from the Cape Flats in one of the oldest and largest hip hop scenes in Africa. 

Episode Breakdown

6:24 – Being a hip hop sociolinguist & self reflection in the book.
7:50 – The arena of freestyle rap battles
11:35 – His work with the group Suburban Menace
16:05 – Hip hop research and scholarship, & the responsibility to the subjects of the research
22:43 – His experiences in the Cape Flats township of Bishop Lavis during hip hop’s days of hip hop, during the last years of the anti-apartheid struggle
29:10 – Relationships between Black & Coloured hip hop heads
38:05 – Different hip hop language varieties in South Africa
39:40 – Braggadocio, and its place and purpose in hip hop
45:00 – Masculinity & toughness in hip hop
49:24 – Dr. Williams concept of “Body Rap”, respectability politics, the pornification of hip hop culture, & rape culture within hip hop culture*
58:12 – Women navigating masculine hip hop spaces
1:07:44 – The diverse audiences that this book speaks to

*Dr. Williams defines Body Rap as “a sub-genre of local rap, where the overarching theme in the lyrics is the sexualization and often the denigration of women’s bodies, performed for the pleasure of men”.

This episode, South African hip hop scholar and sociolinguist Dr. Quentin Williams discusses his new book Remix Multilingualism: Hip Hop, Ethnography and Performing Marginalized Voice (Bloomsbury Press).

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 19: Quentin Williams on Multilingualism & Hip Hop in South Africa”

HHAP Episode 18: Meyniak On Hip Hop, Poetry, & Politics in Zimbabwe

This month we’re releasing a bonus episode. We interviewed Zimbabwean hip hop and spoken word artist Meyniak. He’s a young artist based in Harare and has a unique style and unconventional musical path that led him to hip hop. In this short interview, we spoke about his music, his poetry, hip hop in Zimbabwe, and the relationship between hip hop artists and the state.

Episode Breakdown
5:10 I Peasant 
7:43 Past you
10:30 Interview
30:58 Ma Nna

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/meyniakartist
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/meyniak
Twitter: https://twitter.com/meyniak__

21151710_1485290664882975_5477665560345796127_nThis month we’re releasing a bonus episode of the show. We interviewed Zimbabwean hip hop and spoken word artist Meyniak. He’s a young artist based in Harare and has a unique style and unconventional musical path that led him to hip hop. In this short interview, we spoke about his music, his poetry, hip hop in Zimbabwe, and the relationship between hip hop artists and the state.

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 18: Meyniak On Hip Hop, Poetry, & Politics in Zimbabwe”

Student Project: 5 Nigerian Artists to Know

This is a special episode produced by our students for their project looking at Nigerian musicians: In our episode, we are focusing on the top five Nigerian artists that have an influence in American mainstream media. We are giving you a breakdown of these artists, their beginnings, and of course, a listen to one of their most popular songs. Each artist has their own distinctive style and sound, and some even do much more than just sing/rap. You should definitely have heard one of these artists on the radio, or even while you’re out partying, but if not, be sure to listen and get to know a bit about each of them. Stay tuned all the way to the end to hear which American hip-hop artists we think they should collaborate with.

Follow the artists we discussed on social media to keep up with their music, events, and more!
1. WizKid
Instagram: @WizKidAyo
Twitter: @WizKidAyo
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/sounds-from-the-other-side/id1245549634?app=music
2. Davido
Instagram: @DavidoOfficial
Twitter: @iam_Davido
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/artist/davido/id254654363

3. Tekno Miles
Instagram: @TeknoOfficial
Twitter: @AlhajiTekno
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/ng/album/diana-single/1165390646

4. Korede Bello
Instagram: @KoredeBello
Twitter: @KoredeBello
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/korede-bello/833611554

5. Maleek Berry
Instagram: @MaleekBerry
Twitter: @MaleekBerry
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/last-daze-of-summer-ep/1158084658

This is a special episode produced by our students for their project looking at Nigerian musicians: In our episode, we are focusing on the top five Nigerian artists that have an influence in American mainstream media. We are giving you a breakdown of these artists, their beginnings, and of course, a listen to one of their most popular songs. Each artist has their own distinctive style and sound, and some even do much more than just sing/rap. Continue reading “Student Project: 5 Nigerian Artists to Know”

HHAP Episode 17: Abena Rockstar on Hip Hop and the Music Industry in Ghana

Abena Rockstar is a Ghanaian hip hop artist who is known for writing hard hitting, raw hip hop lyrics. She performs mostly in Twi, and is among a small group of female artists in Ghana who’s style focuses on strong hip hop lyricism. Many female artists in Ghana choose to enter into other genres, whether it be Hiplife or gospel music. The idea that women are not supposed to be hardcore hip hop lyricists is a perspective we see throughout hip hop globally.

In this interview, we sat down at a local restaurant near Abena’s home in Tema, outside of Accra and talked about a lot of different topics. Abena Rockstar discusses the visibility of women in Ghanaian hip hop, the pressure to sing instead of rap, ideas of how women should behave, and her views on the category of “female rapper”. She also talks about her views on Hiplife, her participation in the “Gh Female Rappers Cypher” project, and the music industry in Ghana.

In 2014, Abena Rockstar released the EP “Only Few Can Relate” and in 2017 she released the EP “MAFIA”. The songs featured in this podcast include the singles “I’m Ready”, “Abena”, and “Broke Nyass Brodas” is a commentary on male and female relationships. We have included links to her music, website, and social media profiles.

Abena Rockstar was among several artists featured in the “Gh Female Rappers Cypher”. Other artists featured on the project were Eno, Esbee, Porsche, EyiRap, Xcot, Mila, and Scrach. The track can be heard at http://youtu.be/ztRX0qbOU4I

Abena Rockstar’s website: http://abenarockstar.com
Twitter: @AbenaRockstar
Facebook: AbenaRockstar

Episode Playlist
:28 “Abena”
3:30 Episode intro
10:35 “Broke Nyass Brodas”
13:25 “I’m Ready”
16:17 Interview with Abena Rockstar
47:22 “Now u Know”

*This episode was produced and mixed by Howard University student @Yashua7Rashad

Abena Rockstar is a Ghanaian hip hop artist who is known for writing hard hitting, raw hip hop lyrics. She performs mostly in Twi, and is among a small group of female artists in Ghana who’s style focuses on strong hip hop lyricism. Many female artists in Ghana choose to enter into other genres, whether it be Hiplife or gospel music. The idea that women are not supposed to be hardcore hip hop lyricists is a perspective we see throughout hip hop globally.

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 17: Abena Rockstar on Hip Hop and the Music Industry in Ghana”

HHAP Episode 16: Wanlov the Kubolor

This month we’re featuring a conversation with Ghanaian artist Wanlov the Kubolor. In the interview we talk about Wanlov the Kubolor’s experiences, his music, the controversies, and his evolution into Wanlov the Kubolor, the African Gypsy.

Wanlov the Kubolor is a smart, introspective artist who is very much aware of the social relevance of his music. He often makes social commentary, whether via his music or social media, and infuses that social commentary with humor. Wanlov’s humor (and he’s genuinely funny) often has fans laughing before realizing that there is a message in the madness. Wanlov has detractors, people who take issue with his music or behavior. But, agree or disagree with his views, Wanlov the Kubolor is not afraid of expressing himself in unconventional ways.

Wanlov’ the Kubolor’s music reflects his diverse background and experiences. It is difficult to put Wanlov the Kubolor into one category of music. He is an MC, but he also blends several different sounds and styles in his music. He’s a versatile artists who has crafted a career as a successful, internationally known artist.

His solo albums are Green Card, Yellow Card, Brown Card: African Gypsy, and Orange Card: Fruitopian Raps

Wanlov is also one half of the group Fokn Bois (his partner is M3nsa), which has released two films film Coz ov Moni and Coz ov Moni 2. They also released the soundtracks to Coz ov Moni and Coz ov Moni 2. The groups also released FOKN Wit Ewe and FOKN Ode to Ghana. Wanlov has also released several EPs.

Wanlov the Kubolor’s music can be found on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wanlov-the-kubolor/id455218010

He’s also on social media Twitter: @wanlov‏ and Facebook: Wanlov the Kubolor

Episode Playlist
:40 “In Ghana”
2:53 Episode Intro
6:48 “Sometimes”
8:00 “Brkn Lngwjz”
10:00 “Mek We Rap”
11:58 “Trotro Blues”
13:25 “No Borders”
14:58 Interview with Wanlov the Kubolor

This month we’re featuring a conversation with Ghanaian artist Wanlov the Kubolor. In the interview we talk about Wanlov the Kubolor’s experiences, his music, the controversies, and his evolution into Wanlov the Kubolor, the African Gypsy.

Wanlov the Kubolor is a smart, introspective artist who is very much aware of the social relevance of his music. He often makes social commentary, whether via his music or social media, and infuses that social commentary with humor. Wanlov’s humor (and he’s genuinely funny) often has fans laughing before realizing that there is a message in the madness. Wanlov has detractors, people who take issue with his music or behavior. But, agree or disagree with his views, Wanlov the Kubolor is not afraid of expressing himself in unconventional ways.

Wanlov’ the Kubolor’s music reflects his diverse background and experiences. It is difficult to put Wanlov the Kubolor into one category of music. He is an MC, but he also blends several different sounds and styles in his music. He’s a versatile artists who has crafted a career as a successful, internationally known artist.

His solo albums are Green Card, Yellow Card, Brown Card: African Gypsy, and Orange Card: Fruitopian Raps

Wanlov is also one half of the group Fokn Bois (his partner is M3nsa), which has released two films film Coz ov Moni and Coz ov Moni 2. They also released the soundtracks to Coz ov Moni and Coz ov Moni 2. The groups also released FOKN Wit Ewe and FOKN Ode to Ghana. Wanlov has also released several EPs.

Wanlov the Kubolor’s music can be found on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/wanlov-the-kubolor/id455218010

He’s also on social media Twitter: @wanlov‏ and Facebook: Wanlov the Kubolor

Episode Playlist
:40 “In Ghana”
2:53 Episode Intro
6:48 “Sometimes”
8:00 “Brkn Lngwjz”
10:00 “Mek We Rap”
11:58 “Trotro Blues”
13:25 “No Borders”
14:58 Interview with Wanlov the Kubolor

HHAP Episode 15: Kanyi Mavi on Hip Hop, Xhosa, & Rap Culture in South Africa

In this episode I sit down with Kanyi Mavi, an MC out of Cape Town, South Africa. She was recently in New York City and I was able to catch up with her at the famous Red Rooster soul food restaurant in Harlem. In the interview we spoke at length about being a Xhosa-speaking hip hop artist in South Africa, as well as the politics of hip hop culture in South Africa. We also spoke about the dynamics of gender & hip hop in South Africa.

Tracklist
Ungalibali
Rise (featuring Driemanskap)
Ngqangqa (prod. T.Krotkiewski)
For more information about Kanyi Mavi check her out on

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kanyimavi/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kanyi_Mavi

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/anyiavi

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/kanyi/id535359468

In this episode I sit down with Kanyi Mavi, an MC out of Cape Town, South Africa. She was recently in New York City and I was able to catch up with her at the famous Red Rooster soul food restaurant in Harlem. Continue reading “HHAP Episode 15: Kanyi Mavi on Hip Hop, Xhosa, & Rap Culture in South Africa”