HHAP EPISODE 39: Rap Radio’s Bionic on Hip-Hop in Nigeria

The first episode of our month of Nigerian hip hop focuses on the Lagos-based internet radio station, Rap Radio Africa with Ikenna Mbah aka Bionic. Rap Radio Africa is one of the first hip hop, African internet radio stations. The station is dedicated to playing all hip hop, all the time. Most of the hip hop they play comes from across the continent.

The conversation covers several topics, including the history of Rap Radio Africa and Bionic’s experiences in the Nigerian hip hop scene. Bionic discusses the programming on Rap Radio Africa, and how that came about, especially via connections with U.S. based artists like Chuck D from Public Enemy. Rap Radio Africa has partnerships with other internet-based hip hop programs, which helps diversify their content and gets their content heard on other platforms.

Bionic also discusses the differences between hip hop and the pop music industry in Nigeria. Nigerian pop music (Davido, Wizkid, P Square, etc..) is often labeled hip hop, which can be confusing when you’re trying to hear what’s happening in the Nigerian hip hop community. Bionic addresses those challenges and how those misconceptions are impacting Nigerian hip hop.

Bionic also discusses the future direction of Rap Radio Africa, and some of the things that are being planned. We also discuss some of the fundraising efforts that they are undertaking to help sustain and expand Rap Radio Africa.

You can find Rap Radio Africa on their website: https://www.rapradioafrica.com
They are also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @RapRadioAfrica

*Intro beat by Duke Tachez: https://soundcloud.com/duke-tachez

HHAP Episode 38: Keko on Hip-Hop V. The Politics of Sexuality in Uganda

Keko is a Ugandan MC and filmmaker who became involved in Uganda’s hip hop scene over than 10 years ago. Her career eventually took her to international audiences, in Africa and in Europe, and included a 2012 deal with Sony. In our conversation, Keko discusses some of the challenges she experienced while living in Uganda. Those challenges revolved around her gender, her sexuality, her international recognition, and her 2012 deal with Sony. We discuss the impact of patriarchy and homophobia on her ability to live and to work. Keko is now living in Toronto and is pursuing a career in filmmaking. Keko insists that she is not trying to be an activist, and is definitely not anyone’s “poster child” for gay rights in Uganda. However, Keko’s music, films, and her coming out are her unapologetically living her life. As a Ugandan woman, she is also using her own lens & perspective to contribute her voice as a creative.

Keko is on Twitter at @KEKOTOWN
Her film works can be found on VIMEO at https://vimeo.com/user85283017

HHAP Episode 37: Mohamed Benloulou on hip-hop, politics, & (Black) liberation in Algeria

Mohamed Amine Benloulou is an Algerian hip hop scholar & beat maker based in Algiers. This interview took place in April, in the midst of protests in Algeria calling for the stepping down of the president and his government. Mohamed spoke about the history of hip hop in Algeria, historical connection between Algeria and Black liberation movements in the US, the influence of hip hop in historical and contemporary social movements in Algeria, and the role of racial and ethnic identities in Algerian hip hop.

Mohamed also discusses research on the connection between the Battle of Algiers film and hip hop, as well as cultural diplomacy and hip hop, as well as challenges around hip hop studies in Algeria.

Mohamed’s Soundcloud page: soundcloud.com/mohamedaminebenloulou Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DJAMINE47beatmaker/

The episode features the song “Allo le Système!” by Algerian emcee Raja Meziane. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-ajCGiDlrg (w/English subtitles).
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/rajamezianeofficielleTwitter: https://twitter.com/RajaMeziane

HHAP Episode 36: Blitz the Ambassador on His Art, Purpose, & Representation

It’s been 15 years since Blitz the Ambassador released his first record, Soul Rebel. Since then he has gone on to produce 7 additional albums, start his own independent label (Embassy MVMT), produce 2 short films, and produced the feature film The Burial of Kojo, which was released on Netflix on the 31st of March, with Ava DuVernay and ARRAY.

This interview took place after he screened his film at the New African Film Festival this past March in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was great to sit down again with Blitz, 12 years after I first interviewed him for allAfrica.com in May 2007. Then, he was among the first generation of African MCs making their presence known on the underground scene in the US. In that interview we spoke about how Pan African his music was, and how lyrically, he blended elements of African and the Diaspora. His music has evolved into a showcase of African and Diaspora influences, including collaborations with artists from across Africa and the Diaspora.

In this interview we again spoke about the Pan African perspectives and sounds that continue to be present in his music. Blitz attributes much of his outlook to his upbringing, the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah’s ideologies, and his experiences in the Pan African Studies Department at Kent State University.

Blitz the Ambassador also talks about his experiences with the entertainment industry in the U.S., and how he has managed to maintain creative control over his music and film projects. In this sense, Blitz the Ambassador is vigilant about the integrity of his work, acknowledging the importance of representation, and of creating your own narratives.

The two songs featured in the episode, “Hello Africa” and “Internationally Known”, as well as all of Blitz the Ambassador’s music, can be purchased here: https://blitzambassador.bandcamp.com

Blitz on social media 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlitzAmbassador/
Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/blitzambassador/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlitzAmbassador

HHAP Episode 35: From Queens to Dar: Fete Jen on Hip Hop & Lyricist Lounge Tanzania

This was a fun conversation with hip hop organizer Fete Jen, a Queens, NY native who has traveled throughout Africa and is connected to multiple hip hop artists and scenes around the world. She started Lyricist Lounge Tanzania (LLT) in 2014, helping to provide a platform for poets, spoken word artists, and MCs in Dar es Salaam. LLT was distinct for several reasons, most notably, it brought together a diverse crowd of Tanzanians, African American & Caribbean expats living in Tanzania, and expats from other African countries living in Tanzania. A lot of this diversity was due to the diverse team that have organized the LL events.

LLT is celebrating its fifth anniversary on the 23rdof March, in Dar es Salaam. The organizers have established a fundraiser to help with the costs of putting on the event and bringing in artists to perform.

Through her networks with hip hop communities in the Diaspora and throughout Africa, Fete Jen has been involved in or helped to establish several hip hop based projects. In this call we talk about her experiences with the Tanzanian hip hop scene and starting Lyricist Lounge, her views profanity and the use of the N-word in hip hop, the increase in Blacks from the Diaspora moving to Africa, and relations on the continent between Africans and Blacks from the Diaspora.

You can find Fete Jen on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/fetejen/) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/fete_jen/)

*Intro beat by Duke Tachez: https://www.facebook.com/DUKETACHEZ/

HHAP Episode 34: Reggie Rockstone on the Pan African connections with Ghanaian Hiplife & Hip Hop Culture

Reggie Rockstone is one of the pioneers of hiplife in Ghana. In this conversation, he discusses how as a Pan Africanist, his perspective influenced his participation in hip hop culture in Ghana. He talks about the importance of popularizing the use of African languages through music, and how he helped to popularize the use of Twi in Ghanaian hiplife and hip hop. He discusses the importance of African languages in reaffirming pride, breaking colonial mentalities, and bridging class divides. Reggie Rockstone also talks about his own Pan Africanist upbringing, and the impact of his Diaspora experiences, as well as those of his father and African American mother. 

The episode begins with Reggie Rockstone’s song “Proactive” and ends with his song “Woso”, both on his 2010 album Reggiestration, which is available on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/reggiestration/412457159.

Reggie Rockstone can be found on Instagram @reggierockstone711 and Twitter @ReggieRockstone

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