Politics and Rap- a Review on “Corruption, Corruption” by Amaze

In his song “Corruption, Corruption”, Liberian rapper Amaze talks about corruption in Africa (specifically Liberia) and how it affects people. In the song, he further analyzes the concept of corruption by breaking it own into three main levels. First, he starts with corruption at home. He explains how parents will defend their children when they do bad instead of punishing the children. He further explains how corruption “matures” and worsens as the child grows older. In conjunction to this, Amaze states that children will go on to commit worse crimes as they get older. He links this to corruption and the lack of discipline enforced by the parents of the child. He urges parents to watch over their children as to prevent them from being corrupt. Further into the song, Amaze explains how political corruption affects the people of Liberia. He claims that politicians embrace corruption & do little to help the people of the country. Amaze mentions embezzlement in the  song. This is important because this happens in a lot of African countries. He says that regular people are now starting to become aware of embezzling and the general corruption of politicians. Amaze also mentions the amount of power that the law holds in Liberia. He makes the claim that no man is above the law, but states that it is different in Liberia, claiming that men “step on the law” and manipulate it to their favor. An important aspect Amaze covers in the song is the rise of children’s school fees. Being said that most people in Liberia have trouble affording school as it is, raising the cost of school will only make matters worse. Amaze also addresses the rising exchange rate in Liberia’s currency.  This is an issue found in many African countries. Furthermore, Amaze mentions how national funds are being mishandled, stating that the country continues to receives grants despite conditions not improving. In connection to this, Amaze talks about how companies continue to prosper, yet the people still suffer. He then talks about the false sense of democracy that is occurring , stating that elected officials lack sincerity & have done little to minimize corruption. In comparison to early American hip-hop, Amaze uses his platform to address the issues in his community. He also uses hip-hop to fight against the injustices that are currently happening in Liberia. Like early American hip-hop artists, Amaze clearly expresses his disdain with the government and how it is run. In conjunction, he reveals how the government cares little about the general population.

 

 

Prophets of Da City’s “Never Again”: A Celebration, Motivation & Proclamation

 

Prophets of Da City (P.O.C.), is one of South Africa’s most influential, politically charged rap and hip hop collectives.  “Their sound [which] has been described by http://www.westnet.com as ‘a devastating mix of old-skool meets new school rhythms and enough tongue-twisting rhymes to keep your head in a spin” also speaks major insight into the social predicament of Blacks worldwide, igniting fire and giving hope to all that listen.

Speaking from the viewpoint of the South African experience of struggle and overcoming, Prophets of Da City (P.O.C.) in the song, “Never Again,” outline the ill shape Blacks find themselves in due to colonialism, imperialism, and all other -isms emblematic of . The motif of the song, “never again” is a declaration that toleration of any form of oppression will not take place from the streets of Soweto to the alleys of Detroit.

(Music Video of the Song “Never Again” by P.O.C.)

This song is about unity on all corners of the globe. It is “dedicated to those who are down with the revolution and all over the world where people are snoozing,” whether they be in Australia or Brazil. The artists never once divorce themselves nor their messages from the centrality of the Black experience on a global scale. The “Black race always at a slap face” is in a continuous, cyclical state of overcoming and becoming. The artists never cease to to take their micro experiences and expand them to a macro level. In doing so, they establish relevance in making it known that a singular struggle is quite actually a collective struggle. (“those that support the struggle locally/ I support your struggle globally…”) Lines such as “Africa rejoice, raise your fist, raise your voice…” make it clear that Africa is not limited to the continent, yet is inclusive of all people of African descent as well as those that identify with the collective struggle of oppression.

With the slight and clever implementation of the voice of Nelson Mandela atop lyricism, a deliberate and intentional attempt is made to provide a semblance of hope for those that may have wavered in their faith of its existence; and most importantly, in order to capture the notion that the walk may long, yet a victory is always on the horizon. This jubilant, up- beat song holds implications for Africans everywhere to wake up, stand tall, and never [again]  back down from facing the struggle because triumph is never too far off.  (Oh, “what a feeling to see a smile on the black face…throw your fist in the air!”)

“Never Again” is simultaneously a celebration, a motivation for continued fighting against the system of global oppression and, most of all, a proclamation that the people of Africa, whether they be on the continent or on the furthest corners of the planet, shall not  and will not tolerate a position on this Earth where the status “FREE” is not an option.

 

References

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/prophets-of-da-city-mn0000363945/biography

“What’s the problem?” a critique/review on Godessa “Social Ills”

http://www.kalamu.com/bol/wp-content/content/images/godessa%2003.jpg
A picture of the group Godessa

On a collaborative album titled “Interesting Flavours” many promising African artist come together to assemble a musical work of art. One group on the album is the female rap trio Godessa, which is formed by Eloise “EJ von LYRIK” Jones, Bernadette “Burni” Amansure, and Shameema “Shame” Williams. Their track on the album is entitled “Social Ills” and speaks upon a lot of crucial subject matters.

In “Social Ills” Godessa talks about all the problem and issues society has that make people clones and not individuals. These issues are coming from the media and commercials showing what is hip or not. An issue that they talk about is the materialistic society we live in. People want to buy the newest Nikes, Levis, etc. They also touch on society’s beauties standards for people. One of the standards they talk about is one that seems to be universal amongst colored races, which is the thought that lighter skinned people are better looking. All the issues that they talk about basically sum up to the lack of originality amongst people and how they want to be like everyone else from the clothes they wear to the way they want to physically look.

Continue reading ““What’s the problem?” a critique/review on Godessa “Social Ills””

Raising Awareness: A critique on Chosan’s “Hoodie On”

In Chosan’s song “Hoodie On” ( a tribute to Trayvon Martin)he discusses social issues such as racial profiling, police brutality etc, which affects many black people,as well as Africans, today. It also shows the the globalization of social awareness and how people from all around the world can relate to someone in a particular predicament without actually living there. For example, people living in Europe can know about social injustices in South America thought the internet (via social media), art , music etc. Also in the song, Chosan mentions how people are judged based on what they wear and how they look. From a certain angle, one can say that he is directly addressing the flaws associated with respectability politics (the notion that a person will be respected if they speak , dress and act properly). He is basically trying to say that a person wearing a hoodie & sweats should be treated the same as a person in a suit.

Chosan also shows his exceptional storytelling skills in his song. He tells the story about how Trayvon Martin was stalked & shot to death. He even includes George Zimmerman’s police call in his video. He paints a clear picture of the whole incident. He addresses the flaws in the American justice system; on how it is biased and racist. In conjunction, he also states how stand your ground is basically murder, implying that the law is flawed and unjust. Chosan mentions how the media depicts young black men as “monsters” & “thugs” although we are as human as anyone else. Also, Chosan mentions how black children are treated like adults, stripping them of their innocence.

About the Artist:

Chosan is an American rapper born in Sierra Leone. He currently lives in New York city. Chosan has worked with Kanye West, specifically on his song, “Diamonds from Sierra Leone”. Chosan did the narration at the beginning of the video. Chosan has released two independent albums: “The deeper side of Misery” (2006) and “Diamond in the Dirt” (2008).

A Message of Hope

Wagëblë is a four man rap group based out of Dakar, Senegal, but they have performed around the world. Their “name connotes the communal meeting place for the people to discuss the issues that affect their lives” and the title track off of their last album, “Message of Hope” (2011), expresses how their music has allowed for a positive discourse about trails facing the Senegalese community, such as the political riots and protests that occurred around the time this song was released.

WagëblëThe song begins with an audio clip from a newscaster praising “a group of young musicians”, Wagëblë, for spreading “a message of hope” for the next generation in a time of hardships and trouble. This media story is sampled throughout the track, which leads me to believe it was the inspiration for the song and album.

Wagëblë raps in French/Wolof, but here are some of the translated lyrics that most express the purpose of this song.

“The story of our lives informs the content of our music and philosophy.”

“Wondering how to remove the pain of the streets, bring renewed hope to my people – realizing my dreams.”

“We rap to express the experiences in our lives. We rap to explain the nightmares in which we live.”

“Witness the desperation of an entire generation.”

“I’ll never stop voicing the pain of the people I represent.”

Wagëblë uses “Message of Hope” to explain why they make music and hint at the importance of it – giving Senegalese people a musical outlet for their struggles.


Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALCXxmz9nNA

About Wagëblë: https://www.facebook.com/Wageble/info/?tab=page_info

Daara J Family

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Biography

Sengalese group Daara J Family creates shared the molding of their artistic talents through their music. The group raps in their wolof dialect to share messages about their journey towards success. Daara J Family embraced different styles including soul, reggae, and traditional music to help produce their own style. The group had no difficulties becoming popular following the formation of their group in 1997. The members are heavily influenced by the American hip-hop style that appeared in their songs. From their first album, Senegal, to their later albums, Daara J Family expanded on musical and political ideals to communicate with its audience. Boomerang was known as “one of the best hip hops albums of the century” by a British newspaper. The harmonious rhythm between the artist’s personal attachment to the lyrics helps to create a relatable and empowering emotion.

In addition to music, Daara J Family is heavily involved with activism. In fact, their drive as activists is one of the main contributors to the group’s formation. Because wars and conflict arise frequently in parts of Africa, the group focuses on peace and educating the world about Africa. There are several misconceptions about Africa that depict the continent mainly in a negative way. The stressed the importance of educating individuals worldwide on the truth about Africa promote unity on a solution to ending the wars. Both their musical and activist roles have made a huge impact by integrating their style and politics to convey different messages.

Artist’s Review

Darra J Family’s song “Bayi Yoon” produced the exact opposite song that I was initially expecting. I began watching the music video and didn’t expect to see a large family singing the song because I anticipated a few family members in the group. The lead singer who has dread locks began singing softly after the family sang their part. I was not expecting such a soft noise to come from his mouth because I typically only see and hear men who have dreadlocks rapping. It was refreshing to hear a different sound and actually be interested in what he the lyrics would be about.

The background chants and grunts are directly from the voices of other family members within the group. The rawness of their voice creates a homely connection to their African roots. Although the song is sung in their native language, the constant mention of Africa makes you assume that the song pertains to that topic. In addition, the video takes place in an area where spiritual rituals are held. The members are dressed in traditional African clothing in bright, vivid colors to represent certain meanings within their culture. The beat turns from a faster paced tempo to a slower one to create variety within the speed of the song. This creates a soothing effect as you continue to listen to the artist sing the words while being accompanied by drums and other sounds that reflect the culture. There is also a member of the group that raps and speeds up the tempo of the song and creates an intense mood during his delivery. The song ends with the original singer and ends the song on a faster pace that invites listeners to dance along and enjoy the music.

Black Noise

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Biography

Black Noise is an African hip-hop group that contains survivors of the breakdance era. The group initially started out performing specifically dances and then later branched out to MCing. Through their rhymes, Black Noise decided that they wanted to share meaningful verses that would be memorable and educational. In addition, they wanted to create crowd riveting and inspiring performances. The beginning of their journey occurred when one of the members wrote about AIDS. The expansion of the group’s success has resulted in the founding of a non-profit organization called Heal the Hood. This organization hosts various hip-hop events bring attention to the past culture of breakdancing and old throw downs.

This group was the first to combine their dance shows with MCing during that time because the breakdancing era focused specifically on the dance during shows. They initially struggled to get booked for gigs because they were new talent. However, as the group practiced and perfected their approach, they were able to get in contact with a managing performer. Even though they were able to get gigs, the group ultimately knew that there would be better off working as independent artists. The group continued to travel and perform around Cape Flats in Cape Town and other areas in South Africa.

Artist Review

From the second the song “Black Is Back” began, I immediately found myself feeling happy and nodding to the beat. The beat produces a light and jumpy sound that makes it impossible not to dance along. A woman begins singing and then the group members each take a turn sharing their voice. Each member of the group provides a unique artistic attribute that compliments one after another. Black Noise makes it hard to not like the song because in addition to a funky beat, message is focused on culture and black history. The combination makes you want to follow along and learn the lyrics. Although the song contains raps and singing in English, their accents cause you to focus in on the content of the song.

The music video is also enjoyable because there is a lot of reminiscent scenes of old school hip-hop. Their video contains the group engaging in activities that are relatable to the urban youth worldwide. Scenes of the members breakdancing, spray painting, and roller skating are all things that people can relate to or remembering experiencing in their lives. Most importantly, everyone is just having fun. The energy and good vibrations channeled from the artists makes you feel happy even if you aren’t a fan of the song because you can tell that their intent is to uplift and motivate their audience. The carefree video appears welcoming enough to join in the dance sessions and feel as though you are apart of the group yourself.

Keyti: Music Review

Keyti is a Senegalese rapper who rose to fame through the group Rap ‘Adio. He initiated his career by expressing his ideals as to what true hip hop and rap should be. He intended to take rap back to its roots, that of which were of a political and socially critical driven nature. Keyti has repeatedly expressed his love for language and how important he believes it is for a people’s to maintain it. Through language he has found a way to express himself and thereupon believes everyone else should do the same.

Keyti, much like very many other people, believes rap music is a politically inclined work of poetry. Although the majority of his serious music is delivered by the use of the Wolof language, his showcasing music performed on Journal Tele Rappe or Journal of Rap, which is played throughout Senegalese television broadcasts and You Tube channels, contains a mixture of French, Wolof and at times, some English verses.

In terms of the Journal Tele Rappe, Keyti delivers his verses with a sense of dry humor. The most obvious of which may be found within and episode in which President Obama takes the primary focus due to his visit to their country. Within the song the verses are passed off between various of his associates and from the very few English verses garnered in the production it became apparent that said verses were used to express their supposed admiration for the President and his country, and maybe even slight jabs in between.

In the art of rap, lays a thick layer of poetic homage. In which case it became apparent that Keyti’s poetic verses tend to clash with his actual rhymes. As a result, Keyti’s “Poetry in the Street,” which is posted on You Tube with a verse by verse English translation showcases Keyti’s excellence with word play and drive for rhyming.

The production showcases Keyti in a populated neighborhood voicing his hopes for his people and a better tomorrow. In summary of his message, the rapper voices his want for people to go after what they want, and not to sit around and wait for the changes to be made for themselves. They must in effect pursue change in order to achieve it. In concluding his ideas he acknowledges those who do in effect pursue change, and accomplish it if only for themselves. He then goes on to make a call to action directed at the youth. Stating that the must continue to pursue better lives, rather than sit around and wait for them. It is interesting to witness a rapper who acknowledges his people’s grievances and also manages to see that blaming and pointing fingers to an unjust system does absolutely nothing to change it. He expresses his thoughts clearly without seeming repetitive or belittling.

Rappe, JT. (2013 June 21). Journal Rappe EP9 avec Xuman et Keyti [Video File].

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHevxCIF4d4#t=60

Wax, N. (2011 March 11). Keyti: Poetry in the Streets [Video File].

Retrieved from: http://youtu.be/7EG3Z1VhYhw

Keyti: Biography

Keyti is a hardcore rap artist who originates from Dakar, Senegal. He was born on December 22, 1972. His name of origin is Cheik Sene, and he delivers his verses in his native Wolof language. He initiated his career by joining a rap group named Rap’Adio. Keyti’s first intent when arriving into the music scene was to return hip hop back to its original state. That state of which he spoke was one in which Hip Hop is a politically driven force. The ideology for  which he credits had been discovered through listening to the American Rap group, Public Enemy. Within some time, the group began to face some ideological differences and went on to be disbanded; leaving Keyti to pursue a solo music career in search of voicing his own ideals without having to consult grouping peers.

In an interview published on NPR.org by Jake Warga, when pressed on his ideology, Keyti informs the listeners that He believes, “Rap is to speak. . .Rap helped a lot of us channel that anger into music.” and so Keyti’s values became much clearer. He went on to orate how much he values language and how much importance there is to a language. He expresses his pride, and the pride other people should have when using their language, but in the end, he also voices his discontent toward what he perceives to be having had his native language stolen and erased. Keyti then states that, “rap is to speak,” and speaking is poetry, the art of rhyming.

Within time, Keyti was admitted into the United Artists for African Rap. As an advocate, Keyti has managed to move his musical talents on to a broader spectrum. Keyti is a permanent fixture on a television broadcasted, and YouTube streamed show called Journal Tele Rappe. Within the short broadcast Keyti, alongside rapper Xuman, appear rapping global news, and topics of political disruption within society.

The show is primarily directed toward a younger audience. In Warga’s interview, Xuman states that the reason for which the music tends to be comedic and thereupon humorous is primarily due to the fact that they seek to attract young viewers. By attracting young viewers they seek to keep them informed and aware of what is happening around them and inspire them to take action. Their You Tube channel with the username of JT Rappe has alone garnered up to a little above 15,000 subscribers, who consist of a dominantly under 30 crowd.

Warga, J. (2015, January 15). Rapping the News in West Africa [Audio File].

Retrieved from: http://www.npr.org/2015/01/15/377527029/rapping-the-news-in-west-africa

Arabian Knightz: Music Review

The Arabian Knightz, is a group composed of 3 rappers who rose to fame after releasing a song named, “Rebel,” immediately after the internet censorship laws within Egypt were retrieved following the 2011 revolution. The song samples Lauryn Hill’s song, “I Find it Hard to Say.” While the chorus, consisting of Hill’s vocals is deliberated in English, the rest of the sing is not. But the translation of said lyrics, is set to initiate a sense of upheaval within Egypt’s society; more or less a message of nonconformity rather than complete obscurity.

Another song, which may not be as relevant or as accepted by U.S. media outlets is the song, “Prisoner” which is portrayed by the Arabian Knightz and features a verse  by Shadia Mansour. The song rhymes perfectly, and I was amazed by how well they rappers managed to use word-play to convey their messages. Their lyricism is astounding, and the beat is fairly well produced.

Although, I found the song to be very insightful in terms of middle-eastern issues, and their sentiments to Americans, I am very aware that the lyrics within the music may make Americans a bit uncomfortable, some may even find them offensive. But, in all reality perspective is key.

The lyrics within “Prisoner” is forged by both English and Arabic rap verses, and choruses. The first verse of the song which is rapped by Rush, is a criticism of how the U.S. media portrays middle-eastern affairs and their mis-characterizations of their citizens. In doing so, he turns ti criticize the president for making decisions regarding their countries without actually having any idea of what’s actually going on in there.

E-Money goes on to infer that due to the war their is no unity within their country. He also infers that some of their ideals as to what independence resembles would rather be cast away as acts of terrorism than ideals of liberty. Also, the ideal that this war is based off of nothing but basic opportunism.

As stated before, perspective is key. As I view this song as a window into a world I’ve never known, others will surely view it as a window to something they did not want to know and fear.