HHAP Episode 28: Politics & Hip Hop from the Children of Sundiata

This episode is a conversation with Malian hip hop artist and activist Amkoullel L’enfant Peulh on hip hop and politics in Mali. Amkoullel has been involved in hip hop culture in Mali for many years, and he’s been vocal about politics inside and outside of the country. Having lived in France and the United States, Amkoullel is back in Mali where he remains involved in the hip hop community. He is also involved in mentoring artists and working in TV and radio production and distribution in Mali.

A strong voice in Malian hip hop, in this conversation we discuss the political nature of Francophone rap in West Africa, specifically in Mali, Senegal, and Burkina Faso. Amkoullel traces how hip hop artists in Mali developed their own lyrical identity, based in large part on their own oral traditions and cultural identities. 

In discussing the past and current political events in Mali, Amkoullel talks about the roles of artists in social change and the importance of artists  representing the voice of the people when they use their platform on the international stage. Amkoullel also discusses the impacts of the media’s misconceptions of Mali within the country, as well as the impact of political events in Mali on Malian hip hop.

We begin the episode with one of Amkoullel’s early songs, “Farafina”, which was released in 2010. 

The next song is “Maliko”, which was recorded by several Malian musicians, including Amkoullel. The song is a call for peace and an end to violence against women.

Amkoullel is on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amkoullel_a.k.a._ez_ba/ 

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HHAP Episode 27: Laura Lora on the Politics of Gender & a Ghanaian American Identity

In this episode we speak with Ghanian-born, U.S. based artist Laura Lora. In the interview, Laura Lora talks about her experiences an artist, navigating between Ghana and the United States. Growing up in Los Angeles has definitely influenced her music and style, as she talks about being Ghanian and American. Laura Lora, who majored in Black Studies in college, also talks about her experiences in the African American community, and with the divide between Africans and Africans Americans in the United States. 

Her music and work has also placed her in conversations around gender and sexuality, where she chooses to confront ideas on how African, or Ghanian women should dress and behave. In this interview she also addresses ideas of beauty and femininity, which she has also chosen to challenge. 

Laura Lora is very conscious and intentional about her music, and the messages she wants to send. She is very intentional about her confrontations with gender and identity. Her most recent video for the song “Rebel” blends hip hop, femininity, Ghanian ascetics, and American sounds and visuals. The colorful video is clear in its expression of all of these identities.

You can find Laura lora on:
lauraloramusic.com
SoundCloud @lauraloramusic
Facebook @Lauraloramusic
Instagram @Mslauraloa
Twitter @akaDeviantLady 

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HHAP Episode 24: 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

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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

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Episode 23 Promo

13th Trinity International Hip Hop Festival: Panel Discussion: “Free Speech, Censorship and Protest”

Hip hop, music genre developed in the 1970s by inner-city African Americans from the Bronx, New York city, consists of conscious lyrics which often bluntly address social, political, or economic issues. The nature of hip hop is explicit, authentic, and genuine, and now after decades of diffusion and cultural spreading, the art form perseveres to survive even in areas where censorship and limitation of expression run deep. On April 6th 2018, during the Panel Discussion: “Free Speech, Censorship and Protest” at the 13th Trinity International Hip Hop Festival, Howard University’s Dr. Msia Kibona Clark moderated a group of hip hop artists from all over the world who discussed the condition of media censorship of hip hop in the realm of social change and political discourse.

Dana Burton, a hip hop pioneer and influencer in China asserts that the supposed ban on hip hop in China was simply “fake news.” Burton went on to explain the reaches of Chinese censorship, exemplifying the Chinese ban on the ‘Free Tibet movement.’ In summary, anything that violates national integrity remains off limits in China. For example, videos which include the Tibet flag are banned and individuals are forbidden from using the word ‘Tibet’ in public or media settings.

Another panelist, MC Puos is a hip hop journalist who cofounded china’s first hip hop magazine, Bang. He discussed his upbringing in Detroit and referenced his understanding of words, communication, and censorship, and the unspoken rule of limited self-expression as a youth. A person could lose their life by saying the wrong thing to the wrong person: a realization that showcased the strength of words.

Panelist Emile YX?, a journalist, author, playwright, b-boy, and member of Black Noise, (one of the first hip hop groups in South Africa) discussed the current censorship is South Africa. As a solution to the suppression of black voices in South African Media, YX? proposed that black people create their own markets and industries. His project, Heal the Hood focusses on dismantling the Eurocentric monopolization of the capitalist society by supporting our own businesses. Overall the event was an enlightening intellectual experience.

HHAP Episode 3: Xuman and Keyti on Hip Hop Culture in Senegal

This episode features an interview with Senegalese hip hop pioneers and activists Xuman and Keyti. Xuman and Keyti have been active in hip hop in Senegal for over 20 years. They now host a hip hop news show called Journal Rappé on YouTube. The episode featured on this podcast features the U.S. rapper M1.

Journal Rappé: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCImRGQL_sK7OHi1h823Nc0w

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This episode features an interview with Senegalese hip hop pioneers and activists Xuman and Keyti. Xuman and Keyti have been active in hip hop in Senegal for over 20 years. They now host a hip hop news show called Journal Rappé on YouTube. The episode featured on this podcast features the U.S. rapper M1.

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 3: Xuman and Keyti on Hip Hop Culture in Senegal”

Injustice is Everywhere, so Stand-Up: Shadia Mansour

Shadia Mansour is a hip-hop artist who raps in Arabic. Many called her the “first lady of Arabic hip-hop,” which mean she is breaking down barriers for a female in the Middle East. Mansour is from Palestine and majority of the population there is Sunni Islam. She is a political figure in the Middle East. Mansour is a young voice that bridging art and activism. She grew up listening to American rappers like KRS-One. She wanted to relate the injustice and oppression expressed that she heard in American hip-hop to the experiences of the Palestinian people. In her interview with Cultures of X Resistance Network, she stated: “We’ve got police brutality going on right here in Palestine.” Her song that is called Sho Eli Saar explains her feeling for the police in Palestine.

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PBS

Positive Black Soul is known as one of the first rap and hip-hop groups in the country of the Senegal. Based in Dakar, Senegal, the group began as a collaboration between two members from the Didier Awadi’s Syndicate and King MCs. Didier Soutou Awadi and Doug E. Tee got to together to form the group Positive Blacks Soul known for their use of traditional Senegalese instruments, political rhyming, and mostly Wolof language. The two were originally rivals who competed against each other and were from different neighborhoods. The two eventually performed together instead of against one another, and it was at that moment they realized that they had a lot in common. Positive Black Soul got momentum after their performance at a music festival hosted by the Dakar French Cultural Center. They got noticed by French rapper MC Solaar. The group was asked to open up for him at his show in Dakar and throughout France. The group went on to put out their first album called Boul Fale, and their career took off from there. They received an opportunity to work with Senegalese musician Baaba Maal, which in turn got them a record deal with Mango Records, who Baaba Maal was signed with. The group continued on to gain international acclaim and had the opportunity to work with artists such as American rapper KRS-One, Red Hot organization, Res, Tony Allen, Ray Lema, Baaba Maal, and Archie Shepp.

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Tumi Asks You to “Stop The Violence”

“This is my story and I’m sticking to it. I don’t are what’s hot right now. I’m going to stand for what I believe in. I’ll still out rap any rapper” -Tumi (SABC Digital News Interview Oct 2013). 

Boltumelo Molekane, also known as Tumi, continues authentic Hip Hop that is overlooked by the more catchy gimmicky genres like Hipline and Bongoflava. South African born, Tanzania raised, Molekane’s music reflects the daily realities for South Africa. In 1992, with apartheid facing its final days, Tumi and his family returned to South African, settling down in Soweto. At this time, Hip Hop was booming in not only America, but in some parts of Africa as well. Tummy’s rap reflects social problems in a post-apartheid society. Tummy’s reputation increased through his battle rapping. He still can be seen going toe-to-toe with anybody who care to challenge his skill, or anybody who thinks they could out rap him. Tumi belonged to the group Tumi and the Volume, a popular rap band, until their unfortunate disbandment in December 2012

July 20th 2015 Tumi performed for the television show Expresso. His song “Stop The Violence” is a gritty anthem calling out the detriment of society via male infidelity.

It’s all Qur’an and Bible, it’s war business
You call it final then walk in optimistic
I’m caught deciding if rifles are more malignant
Then a jaded husband
Then a fading father
I played my part in
Making it harder
I’m a shell, I’m a bomb, you are Gaza

Tumi correlates the malign act of war and religious persecution to adultery within marriage. The life that is glorified within Hiplife of money, cars, women, and illegal substances disrupts the familial structure. “I played my part in making it harder” apologizes to the women or woman he has hurt in the past. Tumi states the male’s infidelity is like a bomb overpowering the woman, in this sense, Gaza.

Shots fired
Far cry from the honeymoon
Live wire
What you done you can’t undo
That’s desire
Gave me her heart but I put it through
Pain is enough that I shouldn’t do
Maybe her love is not bulletproof but she said

Far cries from the honeymoon points out that young men are not committed to the woman long before marriage is initiated. Tumi warns that what is done cannot be undone.  He states that infidelity ruins the strength of love and once these men realize the wrong they have done, it will be too late. Her love is not bulletproof.

Tumi has worked on the documentary Afrique, in which Tumi travels the continent to collaborate with other great Hip Hop powers. In his journey, Tumi realizes that the experience of each person is not all that different.

Here is the link to the documentary’s preview:

Tumi is a great lyricist who uses his poetic background to address his current world issues by way of soulful flows and dope beats. Not forgetting his roots, Tumi remains the Hip Hop voice of the people in a world of commerciality.

 

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumi_Molekane

http://bimba.co.za/tumi-molekane/return-king/stop-violence

SABC Interview