Universal Politics

Kao Denero

Once again we visit Kao Denero in order to gain a better understanding of Salone culture. Kao Denero and Del Vaqyo join forces to present “Fresh Faces”, a song written to encourage citizens to be politically active. This song is performed primarily in English. I believe that by singing the song in English, Kao Denero is able to spread his music to a larger audience. Continue reading “Universal Politics”

Daddy Saj

Joseph Gerald Adolphus Cole, commonly known as Daddy Saj was born in 1978 in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He fled to Guinea in 1997 as a refugee where he became more involved in music. When he returned to Sierra Leone he linked up with Jimmy B , a producer who signed him to his Paradise Family Label. In 2003 Daddy Saj started his own label called Daddy Saj Entertainment. Continue reading “Daddy Saj”

Bow Down to The Empress

On January 12 1992 the Limba tribe of Sierra Leone gained a great addition the Hip Hop community. Philka Tenneh Kamara, better known to her fans as Empress P, is one of the country’s best. Empress P started rapping in her early years to help spread her point to those who may or may not be educated about peace, survival, and hope.

Empress was fortunate to sign with REEMS entertainment which benefited her rap career incredibly. While working with them , Empress dropped many hits but the song that toped them all was “Feminine Era” .  Her 99 bars created a nationwide impact for female rap in general. Because she was able to produce so many hit songs, she was nominated over 5 times as best female hip hop rapper and over 3 times as best new artist. Continue reading “Bow Down to The Empress”

A Leader Amongst Men

If there is one aspect of hip hop that is sub par across the world, it is that there is not enough female artists in the mix. Hip hop was birthed in America, in a patriarchal society, which has made it difficult for women to excel and receive proper recognition. The same struggle can be parallel is evident in Africa where patriarchal and religious influence dictate much of the culture. The presence of these influences in Sierra Leone are what make Star Zee a necessary anomaly.

Continue reading “A Leader Amongst Men”

The Struggle is Real

On December 1st 1983, Sierra Leone artist Soufian Kamara was born in Freetown. Soufian is better known by his stage name Souferior. At the early age of 13, Souferior came to the conclusion that he was destined for the music business. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until he went to Guinea in 1998 that he decided to make music his career. Continue reading “The Struggle is Real”

Haters Gonna Hate

Sierra Leone muscian Alhaji Amadou Ba, better known as LAJ da Boss or Boss Da LAJ, is no stranger to the Sierra Leonean community. LAJ’s first album, TOS (Talk of Salone) brought real hip hop to the fans that were craving it in the country. He founded his own label known as Red Flag Movement and has performed in many different countries. Continue reading “Haters Gonna Hate”

Salone’s Fresh Face

Following the trend of African artists before him and artists to come, Amara Denis Turay, better known as Kao Denero, is merging hip hop music with the current events of his country. The Sierra Leonean musician and Peace Ambassador released “Fresh Face” in light of the highly anticipated election of 2018. The song features Del Vaqyo, an artist Denero discovered, and is a commentary on the necessity of new leadership in Sierra Leone. Continue reading “Salone’s Fresh Face”

Authentic vs. Commercial

 

Country: Sierra Leone

Artists: Kao Denero and Sierra Leone Underground Rappers

Both artists are categorized as hip hop artists or rappers. However, they have very different sounds which makes one question, is there such a thing as “real hip hop”? Does one qualify as hip hop or rap more than the other? The artists in both links all incorporate the three basic components of rap which are content (what you’re saying or the “bars”), flow (rhythm and rhyme), and delivery (how you present each bar). They all used key elements of what is referred to as hip hop, as well. Kao Denero used rapping and DJing, whereas the Sierra Leone Underground Rappers used rapping and beatboxing. The Sierra Leone Underground Rappers have a more raw and more “gangsta” approach, lyrical and also visually in terms of the video too. They’re speaking from experience, growing up in their environment and about how the streets of Sierra Leone are, while also praising their mother land. Their lyrics could be deemed as more negative, mainly focusing on their struggles and violence. The video itself is edited in black and white, perhaps to add to the simplicity of the video or to add it’s “grimey” or hard appearance and each artist in the cypher is rapping over someone beatboxing with no other music or vocals present. Kao Denero, on the other hand, is rapping about a woman he loves and/or lusts for and the title “Hakuna Matata” translates to no worries, which is fitting to the theme of the video. The setting is in what seems to be an island paradise where they are surrounded by beautiful women, drinks, they have their bikes and it appears as though they haven’t got a care in the world. The instrumental alone shows a disconnect, because he has a beat, instruments and vocals and is upbeat. Many would say that Kao Denero is more hip hop meets pop culture or that his music has been commodify, whereas, the Sierra Leone Underground Rappers are real, authentic rap artists. In my opinion, the issue is up for debate and I believe depends on the individual listening and what they consider to be hip hop. Both artists showcase many of the elements of hip hop, however, I expect Kao Denero’s song to attract a larger listening audience because it does somewhat blur the line between hip hop and pop. The Sierra Leone Underground Rappers are more “hip-hop head” friendly and probably wouldn’t attract the same crowd. The views on each video support my theory alone. Overall, I enjoyed listening to all the artists but personally I’m more about lyrics which is why I think the cypher was more interesting to me. Kao Denero’s Hakuna Matata is a song I would listen to for the music rather than what he’s actually saying, but both are still enjoyable just in their own ways

Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati

by Msia Kibona Clark and Mickie Mwanzia Koster

Now available in paperback & on Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/Hip-Hop-Social-Change-Africa/dp/1498505805

This book examines social change in Africa through the lens of hip hop music and culture. Artists engage their African communities in a variety of ways that confront established social structures, using coded language and symbols to inform, question, and challenge. Through lyrical expression, dance, and graffiti, hip hop is used to challenge social inequality and to push for social change. The study looks across Africa and explores how hip hop is being used in different places, spaces, and moments to foster change. In this edited work, authors from a wide range of fields, including history, sociology, African and African American studies, and political science explore the transformative impact that hip hop has had on African youth, who have in turn emerged to push for social change on the continent. The powerful moment in which those that want change decide to consciously and collectively take a stand is rooted in an awareness that has much to do with time. Therefore, the book centers on African hip hop around the context of “it’s time” for change, Ni Wakati.

Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati

by Msia Kibona Clark and Mickie Mwanzia Koster

Now available in paperback & on Kindle

https://www.amazon.com/Hip-Hop-Social-Change-Africa/dp/1498505805

This book examines social change in Africa through the lens of hip hop music and culture. Artists engage their African communities in a variety of ways that confront established social structures, using coded language and symbols to inform, question, and challenge. Through lyrical expression, dance, and graffiti, hip hop is used to challenge social inequality and to push for social change. The study looks across Africa and explores how hip hop is being used in different places, spaces, and moments to foster change. In this edited work, authors from a wide range of fields, including history, sociology, African and African American studies, and political science explore the transformative impact that hip hop has had on African youth, who have in turn emerged to push for social change on the continent. The powerful moment in which those that want change decide to consciously and collectively take a stand is rooted in an awareness that has much to do with time. Therefore, the book centers on African hip hop around the context of “it’s time” for change, Ni Wakati.

Continue reading “Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati”

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).