Conscious Senegalese rap is not dead

Under President Wade, the political and economical situation has continued to deteriorate in Senegal for the past ten years. While many have suffered under the rule, rappers, Thiat and Kilifeu from the central Senegalese town of Kaolack stood up and denounced acts of corruption and served jail time as a result. Now they are back with a gem of a video, directed by Senegalese new school crew Gelongal, the video “Coup 2 Gueule” (Let’s act on our Words). The video becomes even more relevant in the current state of crisis.

Hip-hop for peace

In the midst of the chaos following the election of 2007 in Kenya in which over 1,000 people have been killed, a group of hip hop artists took action to denounce the violence engulfing their communities. They formed the Hip Hop Parliament. At the centre of this is what they call “conscious hip-hop”. “Our hip-hop is about love,” said Roje Otieno, a member of the Hip Hop Parliament. They feel that young people are being provoked when their families are attacked, they are the ones who feel the need to respond with violence. The group called on the youth not to be part of the problem, but be part of the solution.

Hip Hop in Bongo

In the article titled Hooligans and Heroes: Youth Identity and Hip-Hop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Alex Perullo explores the many ways that hip hop has affected the the lives of Tanzanian youth. Although many older Tanzanians regard hip hop with contempt and label its followers as “wahuni” (hooligans), there is no mistaking the fact that the music has gained an intense amount of popularity over the years. Hip hop music has been called the “voice of the youth” because it provides young people with a way to voice their opinions and concerns. In Tanzania, hip hop has been used as a means to educate people about important issues, “For Tanzanian youth, this means altering the popular conception of themselves as hooligans and allowing youth to become knowledge holders and educators within urban contexts”. There are many Tanzanian artists who have written songs addressing a wide variety of topics, and many of the lyrics are thought-provoking and clever. Perullo mentions the fact that strict censorship in the 70’s did not prevent hip hop artists to voice their disapproval of the government. Many bands found their way around bans and censorship by using double entendres and hidden meanings in the lyrics, a practice that “has a long history in Swahili poetry”. This challenges the common misconception that hip hop is vulgar and hateful. Many of the messages of these young Tanzanian artists represent the common struggle of the average person in Tanzania.

Perullo’s research focuses on many popular and influential artists such as Mr II and Professor Jay. He includes song lyrics in Swahili with an English translation on the side. One of the songs that he includes is one by Mr. II, titled “Hali Halisi” (“The Real Situation”). This song focuses on the political corruption in Tanzania, “Our lives are hard, even the president knows/And we still have our smiles in ever situation…everyday it’s us and the police”. This song was popular because it expressed the anger and frustration of the youth. Many of the bands that are played in the radio have clean lyrics and are politically and socially conscious. They educate the youth on important issues.

Bongo Flava and Hip Hop

Tanzanian hip hop emerged in the late 80s, and by the late 90s was being labeled: Bongo Flava. As this new genre went in the direction of pop and incorporated rap and R&B there continued to be confusion between the two. By the early 2000s Bongo Flava began to eclipse hip hop in popularity, air play, and sales. As a result, several hip hop artists began distancing themselves from Bongo Flava.

The divisions within the music industry in Tanzania center not on a need to destroy popular music and culture, but on the perceived need to save hip hop and its culture. Out of this desire to “save” hip hop came the need to define its boundaries. which allowed artists to define their movement and have an identifiable goal, even if some of the specifics get lost in individual ambitions.

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Documentary ‘Ni Wakati’ Brings American, East African Artists Together

Los Angeles — The new documentary by Kenyan filmmakers Michael Wanguhu and Russell Kenya premiered at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles this year. It proved to be a good year for Kenyan film, with eight films set in the country.

Ni Wakati is a documentary that deals with issues including the state of hip hop, connections between Africans and African Americans, and the struggles between commercialized and conscious hip hop.

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Socially Conscious Rap in Uganda

What up people. Sorry i have been away, but don’t worry i got fresh information on hip-hop in Uganda.  When i first started hearing my  African brothers  rap i couldn’t help but laugh at the off rhyming patterns, or how they wanted to look as  American as possible, but i had it all wrong. Big T-shirts over sized pants, and fitted Baseball caps were some of the styles i noticed. But After some time, and really taking some of the flow in, i began to notice  a big difference in a Ugandan form of rap compared to the American rap game.  The Ugandan artist used the rap game as a  form of platform for change, by talking about political issues that are going on in their country how to deal with poverty, illnesses and disease like AIDS in order to help out where they live. American rappers, not all  but a majority of them, talk about the fast life, having a big house, nice cars, lots of money they don’t have, and sex & drugs. Not really suggesting helping out, but being more concern with only the well being of them selves. So i wanted to once again, introduce even more  artist from Uganda so one can see the difference.


For more info on UGandan hip-hop check out

Politics and Hip Hop Meet in Upcoming Elections

Dar es Salaam — Hip hop has often been used by artists as a form of social commentary against poverty, corruption and inequality. Now, some of these artists are aiming to effect change from the inside and are seeking political office themselves.

Joseph Mbilinyi, known by his fans as Sugu, helped pioneer Swahili rap in Tanzania. He has been an emcee for 20 years and has 10 albums to his name. The hip hop artist is now a candidate in next month’s parliamentary elections.

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