This Sunday, the 20th of May, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art will host a book talk for the new book Hip-Hop in Africa: Prophets of the City & Dustyfoot Philosophers
This podcast was an interview with Dr. Msia Clark. Throughout the course of this conversation we explore the specificity of the study of Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa; touching on topics such as hyper-sexualization of women and gender representations in hip-hop, the link between social movements such as Y’en A Marre, the Arab Spring, and Black Lives Matter, etc and the social vehicle and platform hip-hop has provided to social movements around the world, the African hip-hop renaissance, and finally the highs and lows of teaching a joint African hip-hop course split between an HBCU and PWI
In our podcast on the discussion of hip-hop in Sierra Leone, we have come to the conclusion that hip-hop historically raises consciousness in its audience. Today, we see artists moving away from conscious rap to mote mainstream music in exchange for compensation. This migration away from the more conscious side of hip-hop is a representation of duality. In the case of Sierra Leone, Daddy Saj represents conscious rap while K-Man represents the hip-hop pop fusion. For the purpose of balance one can conclude that both sides of this hip-hop equation are necessary.
Too often people perceive the genre of hip-hop to be “angry” music. Across all cultures, Hip-Hop music is negatively stigmatized as loud, vulgar, and explicit, without any acknowledgement of its deep messages. People fail to realize that these songs are meant to serve as cries for help. It is essential for listeners to see past the intense voice behind the mike and recognize the place of frustration that the lyrics are coming from.
The shared grievances among Africans have made the continent a breeding ground for lyrical outcry. In Africa, Hip-Hop music has served as a form of expression, activism and social consciousness. Artists create protest songs that highlight issues impacting their environments such as State violence, corruption, and poverty. In a similar fashion, some other artists take it a step further by producing combat music which puts fear in the hearts of their oppressors. Although overlooked, the intentional and strategic nature of the Hip-Hop genre, is an area worthy of attention. The podcast will show how Hip-Hop Artists from North Africa, Togo, and Liberia use their voice to deliver raw messages of oppression despite the struggle with government censorship and prosecution. Through the use of protest and combat songs, you will see how artists establish influence and catalyze change in their countries.
Furthermore, the podcast will briefly draw a comparison to Hip-Hop culture in America. The commonalities between the two places will reveal how people, irrespective of region, use the genre to make a call to action, by exposing deeply rooted issues. We hope that this podcast will debunk negative stereotypes surrounding hip-hop and shine a positive light on its lyrical power.
The podcast will feature the following songs: Warning: some songs occasionally contain strong language (which may be unsuitable for children)
El General – “Rais LeBled”- 2010
Elom20ce – “Vodoo Sakpata” – 2015
Takun J – “Policeman” – 2007
NWA – “F*ck the police” – 1988
The Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy” – 1994
(Introduction and ending song by Tekno – “Yur Luv” – 2018) Work cited “El Général, the voice of Tunisia, English subtitles”. YouTube, uploaded by Michelangelo Severgnini, January 10 2011,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeGlJ7OouR0
“Elom 20ce – Vodoo Sakpata (Official Video)”. YouTube, uploaded by THUMP, September 14 2015,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3g_ECtpM8E
“Liberian musician Takun J talks about “Police Man””. YouTube, uploaded by TakunJTheHipCoKing, January 11 2012,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrYieEMNKoA&t=506s
“N.W.A. fuck the police with lyrics”. YouTube, uploaded by MegaTuvieja, November 8 2011,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu6r7Yd_iG8
“Policeman”. YouTube, uploaded by Elton Djxman, February 23 2013,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqLS3tUPVjQ
“Tekno – Yur Luv (Official Video)”. YouTube, uploaded by TeknoMilesVEVO, March 21 2018,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d_jkY2444s
“The Notorious B.I.G. – “Juicy” (Official Video)”. YouTube, uploaded by The Notorious B.I.G., September 6 2011,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JZom_gVfuw
Asawin Suebsaeng, “The FBI Agent Who Hunted N.W.A”, Daily Beast, August 14, 2015,https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-fbi-agent-who-hunted-nwa
Benjamin Lebrave, “This Rapper Is Defying Togolese Censorship to Tell Stories About Africa’s Political Problems’, Thump Vice, September 14 2015.https://thump.vice.com/en_us/article/wny3e9/this-rapper-is-defying-togolese-censorship-to-tell-stories-about-africas-political-problems
Clark, Msia Kibona. (2012). Hip hop as social commentary in Accra and Dar es Salaam. African Studies Quarterly, 13 (3), 23-46.
Olivier Morrison, “Turn That Down! 40 Banned and Censored Songs”, National Coalition Against Censorship, March 3 2015,http://ncac.org/blog/turn-that-down-40-banned-and-censored-songs
Vivienne Wait, “El Général and the Rap Anthem of the Mideast Revolution”, TIME, Tuesday February 15, 2011http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2049456,00.html
This video-podcast showcases Blitz contribution through a definition of Afropolitan and the description of how Blitz embodies this idea through his own musical recipe. The videos featured are Make You No Forget, Shine, and Running, which can be found on YouTube.
In one of his singles from 2017, Liberian Trapco artist Bucky Raw incorporates both Liberian colloquial and American references in “Pump Tire”. Pump tire is known as a form of punishment in Liberia where one squats up and down repeatedly until they have learned their lesson through the pain experienced. Using a bumping hip hop beat, Bucky Raw tells anyone that is broke or fronting on him to “pump tire”, as he brags about his flow and status in Trapco, using women and the hustle for money as a reference.
His chorus tells those who are broke and “gbele” to “pump tire” as they cant even afford to buy something as small as a pepper. Girls who “take money for free” and show off with the money that is not theirs can also “pump tire”. These are all common terms in Liberian colloquial. He then uses American slang in his hook by repeatedly saying “you hear me”, a phrase used after a statement to ensure the audience is paying attention to what he has to say. Continue reading “Bucky Raw Shows Us What Trapco is All About in “Pump Tire””
Color: the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light.
From my knowledge and experience, colors captivate not only the eye, but evoke specific emotional and psychological responses in human beings physically. For decades, the urban youth have utilized blends of hues to express sentiments, awareness and inner passions in the form of graffiti. On Saturday, April 7th at in front of Trinity College’s Mather Hall, I visited a beautiful graffiti exhibition which showcased gifted artists from all over the world as part of the 13th Trinity International Hip Hop Festival.
The installation included two large cubes which featured graffiti paintings on each of the four visible sides of each cube (eight paintings). Each piece showcased bright color combinations which told a story. For example, Marcelo Ment from Brazil did a piece which showed a woman with colorless parts of her face while her hair was made of a variety of bright and warm color combinations. Another side of the block showcased the turquoise, green and blue mixture of a girl’s French braids, with pink accents. The colors complimented each other and flowed like mystical water. In addition, Artists Lindaluz Carrillo, Kamil Kucharek, and Poptart from Hartford, and Yuanjie K-Ching Qian from Montreal all composed their pieces within minutes, leaving their mark for all to marvel. Their work represented a culture of conscious art which I personally revere especially at a time in which Graffiti is going extinct due to gentrification. During the exhibition, another viewer mentioned that with less spaces left unoccupied by cameras, there are less opportunities for graffiti artists to tag areas with messages. The conversation led me to further appreciate the art, not only for its authenticity, and cultural impact, but also for its endangered state.
This year’s past Trinity International Hip Hop Festival also featured a live Graffiti Exhibition at the Gates Quad, an area in front of Mather Hall. The two-cube installation was created that Saturday morning with works by Marcelo Ment from Brazil, Hartford natives Lindaluz Carrillo, Poptart, and Kamil Kucharek, Yuanije K-Ching Qian from Montreal, Canada.
The first piece that I really liked was the freestyle graffiti piece by Brazilian artist Marcelo Ment. The intricate graffiti piece features a clever combination of lines and color to create depth and emphasis of the blend of both a bookcase and cityscape setting. The use of both warm and cool colors with blue, yellow, red, green and purple hues creates further contrast. There is movement in the center of the piece with a spiral shape connecting two silhouettes facing opposite of one another surrounded by terms such as “I am one because we are one”, “life”, and “respect”. “Trinity His Hop” is written in bold white letters in the bottom corner to pay homage to the festival. The graffiti piece highlights empowerment, unity and education through its’ bold lettering and style.
Another piece I really liked was the abstract Tetris-like piece which I believe is by Lindaluz Carrillo, an artist and graduate from the University of Hartford. The piece is a 3D abstract Tetris-like shape with landscape details inside the shape. The cool blue tones go the mountains and waves inside the shape contrast with the warm pink surrounding it. The use of black inside the shape also gives it an illusion of a face. I would consider this to be quite an urban piece as abstract shapes that both makes you think and strikes emotion are very common in graffiti art.
The graffiti exhibition was an effective visual art piece for the festival. The main piece “Trinity Hip Hop” in front of the first cube was a great backdrop for some Trinity Festival photos! The bold graffiti letters against a dark background creates contrast and attracts attention to the words on the piece. The graffiti overall surrounds us around urban themes, including empowerment, courage and unity.
This podcast is about American, Jamaican and Somalia artist that helped to promote the Ethiopian music on a global scale. The artists that I will cover on this podcast are two American and one Jamaican native.
Just to give a brief background about Ethiopian music and the different modals. Ethiopian music uses a distinct modal system that is pentatonic, with characteristically long intervals between some notes.
The music of the highlands uses a fundamental modal system called qenet, of which there are four main modes: tezeta, bati, ambassel, and anchihoy. Three additional modes are variations on the above: tezeta minor, bati major, and bati minor. Some songs take the name of their qenet, such as tizita, a song of reminiscence. When played on traditional instruments, these modes are generally not tempered (that is, the pitches may deviate slightly from the Western-tempered tuning system), but when played on Western instruments such as pianos and guitars, they are played using the Western-tempered tuning system.
Music in the Ethiopian highlands is generally monophonic or heterophonic. In certain southern areas, some music is polyphonic. Dorze polyphonic singing (edho) may employ up to five parts; Majangir, four parts.
So the artists that I have chosen to speak about today which had sampled etiopian music in the past are Nas, The weekend also known as Abel and Kanaan the somalin native rapper.
I have copied the links to the songs below:
Nas and Jr Gong Marley– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMGd3mAfl-0&list=PL3DOt_twxxmbsybgpo-XDLTiUMmwJZJfP
On this song the original song that is sampled is by the famous Ethiopian artists tilahun gessese. Nas and Jr Gong Marley took the music from the song and went with the freestyle. You can tell that the music has a very unique tone which is pentatonic.
The Weekend (The hills)– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dolsa6hu14
The Canadian artist born from Ethiopian mother and father grew up listening to the songs of Aster Aweke and Mulatu Astatke. His vocals kinda resembles that of the priest that you find when you go to Ethiopian churches. I really appreciate the fact that he plugged in the old school Ethiopian artist in his songs.
Kanaan as he is from a Somalian family, its only fair to assume that he grew up listening to Tilahun Gessese. Hence, that is why he sampled his music.
Bekele, Birhanu Teferra and Shiferaw. “Analysis of the formation and structure of the Ethiopian scale system .” Analysis of the formation and structure of the Ethiopian scale system (2009).
Frangou, Chris. “Common Ethiopian Pentatonic scales or Qignit.” Common Ethiopian Pentatonic scales or Qignit (2017).
Stanley sadie, george Grove. A Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Oxford University Press, 1879. English.