For the purpose of today’s blog post I analyzed “Nothing to Lose” by K’naan ft. Nas. “Nothing to Lose” is basically of story of how both artist, K’naan and Nas, have overcame the adversaries of there childhood and, therefore, have nothing to lose because they came from nothing. Throughout the song K’naan constantly mentions the roguishness of Somalia. He alludes to the Somalian civil war and what it was like growing up in the streets of Somalia. In “Nothing to Lose” K’naan outlines the life of a childhood soldier. In his first verse he begins talking about how, who I believe is, himself and how he got caught with cocaine. He goes on to state “Hut, hut to the block soldiers, buck, buck to the cop vultures, nope, no I don’t know pilots, nigga I know pirates, violence the islands, shout out to my idrens, put your hands up like it’s a mother fuckin’ siren.” These few lines almost completely summarize how K’naan views Somalia. He sites a chant commonly said amongst soldiers, “hut, hut,” portraying the war taking place on his block. He alludes to the police flocking to retrieve the numerous dead bodies and the retaliation the people showed to them. He acknowledges the poverty of Somalia, stating “no I don’t know pilots,” highlighting that the country is too poor for aircrafts. Yet, he knows pirates, which is formally defined as a person who attacks and robs ships at sea. And finally, K’naan calls the children to action, portraying the village aspect of their community and how the youth are the pillars of change, but unfortunately also showing how the vicious cycle continues. The chorus of “nothing to Lose” asserts that K’naan has nothing to left. What he is saying is, Somalia gave him nothing. K’naan represented how his country took so much from him, but in the end offered nothing in return.
Diaspora is the dispersion of any people from their original homeland.
When coming to America, and being treated as an outsider it is to want to assimilate to America culture. So many people and artist are willing to sacrifice their culture to ensure they “make it” in the music industry. It takes a very strong artist and a very proud artist to remain true to him/her self through the adversity. M.anifest is one of those rappers! He came to America to get an education and was faced with much adversity, from the way he spoke to the way he dress. M.anifest stayed trued to himself and respected his homeland through his entire career and time at the university. His music stays true to his heritage, while at the same time describes his experiences with American culture yet relates it back to his home culture.
In his song, “Coming to America”, Manifest uses his lyrics to paint a picture of his hometown in a way that makes you feels like you are there. He talks about the way his mother used to cook and smile at him. The customs in his community and the ideals he is used. M.anifest even describes the way he grew up and how happy, human, and free he felt in Ghana.
Next, his song “Cupid Crooked”, describes the Ghana ideals and perspective on social issues. In order to honor his homeland and his origins, he dresses traditionally in all of his music videos. Secondly, he stays true to culture with his dances and innuendos. No matter what song you are listening to, you can feel and see that he is a Ghana man to the core.
M.anifest shows the next generation of Ghana rappers to be proud of where they come from. He teaches Americans that there is so much more to Africa than the disparity posted on our screen. Most importantly he teaches everyone that you can remain to true to yourself and still prosper.
I decided to choose an artist whose name I did not hear much in the class. The title of Say’hu’s song, “Motherland” drew my attention because everybody has their own opinion as to what their motherland is or what the term means to them. To me, my motherland is where myself and my family originate from, Africa. Although I have never been there and the two generations before me were born here on American soil I still have this strong connection to Africa. America is not my native land, otherwise I’d be Native American. For Say’hu, Africa is also his motherland being that he was born there, lives there and is of African descent. He describes Africa as “land of the great pharaohs where the sun never leaves”. Say’hu sees Africa as a land of radiance and beauty, a place where royalty are from and people from all across come to capture his vision. However, Say’hu also mentions how certain immigrants to the land are ignorant to this view of Africa and think of it as a jungle whenever they hear her name.
Say’hu represents both his country and the diaspora because although there are people like him who are born and raised in Africa and recognize it as their motherland, you have the black diaspora, which includes myself, whom also consider Africa to be their motherland. Although many of us have never set foot on African soil, many of us do acknowledge that Africa is our country of origin, before migration and of course slavery changed all of that for the most part. Say’hu talks about how Africa needs a savior, as well. His people are dying and the leader’s priority is money, an idea that many of the black diaspora here in America can relate to. African Americans are dying at a rate much higher than other races but our government and our system is designed to ensure this happens and to profit off of it.
Overall I believe Say’hu gave an accurate respresentation of both Africa and of the diaspora by incorporating personal experience, quotations and by describing the two sides of Africa and also the different views people have of the motherland.
Even though my generation has been seen as the troubled sibling of the generations that have come before us but we have been able to continue the globalization of hip hop across the diaspora. Global hip-hop youth culture is the most recent manifestation in the story of black america’s cultural production and exportation. The shift of societal norms among other race groups lead to the marketability of black culture currently known as “The Culture” following the success of Metro-Atlanta trappers Migos. White America seems to disapprove of cultures that are not included in which is why Marshall Mathers was the link between America and the black experience. U.S. black american culture continues to be mired in social narratives of blackness that proliferate multi-dimensionally in the international arena that help us battle our countries faults with social marginality. Now there are three artists currently running the game and expanding the diaspora in their own way and they are none of there than, Drizzy Drake, Blitz the Ambassador and Jidenna.
Drake’s newest album more life has been acknowledged as the ultimate multicultural playlist, all cultures represented in the album are mapped and celebrated. On More Life, Drake shifts into a new perspective that disrupts the U.S. dominance of how the black experience is represented in our pop culture. He takes production cues from London producer NaNa Rogues on one of the project’s best tracks “Passionfruit,” and on the psychedelic “Get it Together” Drake incorporates sounds by South African house producer Black Coffee, to create a mesmerizing effect that would put fans in a trance. All the featured artists on the album tell their own story. Lets talk about the brooklyn made rapper born in the Ghanian city of Accra, Blitz the ambassador. Blitz often reffers to Accra in his music and usually returns their while working on new projects. Through his albums Afropolitian Dreams, Native sons and Stereotypes he has feautered Nneka and Seun Kuti, two of Nigeria’s outspoken music specialists. Blitz also believes that the music of the diaspora can be understood all through out so he visits areas of the diaspora for his music videos he has gotten shots in New York, Brazil and Ghana. Lastly Jidenna now some of you may be wondering why I decided to give him an entry on this list but I promise you his work though overlooked adds to the globalization of the diaspora. Jidenna has said on many accounts that if we begin to embrace the diaspora things will be different than how they are now and music is the spearhead towards that. He belives that entertainment industry is how we can begin to spread the diaspora it beigins with publishing and stream our artists on the African Continent is how we can began to empower ourselves in the US to give black America more power and oppurtunity while also bettering the quality of life for all in Africa. So the diaspora is still expanding and the arts is the key to the further globalization of the Culture.
M.anifest’s song “Coming to America” tells us a lot about the African Diaspora. The song mentions many things that Africans struggle with and it also mentions some of the things that African immigrants in America face. The reading “Payback is a Motherland” says that many African immigrants see hip hop as a way to connect with their home countries. In this class we have studied many African artists who are now in America and use their music to connect with home. M.anifest mentions things about the immigrant experience like missing home and family, trying to find a good job, and sending money home to support his family. He also mentions having to do things like constantly put money on phone cards so he can call home. He also mentioned the pressure from family and parents to get a degree and be successful. From other songs , we learned that the immigrant experience can be lonely and depressing at times. In “Payback is a Motherland”, M.anifest states that he did not know that there was a such thing as African rap at first. Once he discovered this, he began to incorporate his mother tongue into his music more often. This connected him to his home country and it also makes his music more relatable and likable amongst Ghanaians. His song makes many immigrants able to relate to him because it tells a true story and gives a realistic perspective of what immigrants go through. Many immigrants have a hard time adjusting to a new country and a new culture but songs like “Coming to America” let them know that they are not alone and that their experience is shared by others. The songs is very enlightening and inspiring. It makes people more aware of what people who are not native to a country go through and also how hard they work to get what they have.
The artist I selected to represent their country and the African diaspora was M. Anifest. He made a video titled Coming to America which one can find to do a pretty effective of representing not only M. Anifest’s country, but also the diaspora. Now the song Coming to America is very catchy and lyricle. The artist Anifest is able to use the song to paint a picture for what an individual has to go through when travelling outside of the country has to go through. M. Anifest is viewed and labeled as the King of Ghana Hip-Hop in 2017, also winning best Hip Hop and rapper song of the year for Ghanaian music. M. Anifest music is so popular, it did a great job of helping Ghana become a more popular country. His popular music bring respect to the country. Anifest music also does a great job of bringing tourist to the country. His music is played in America, so individuals now want travel to the country to see what of music or even events the country has offer. M. Anifest did a great job showing what an individual goes through when traveling to America. Things such as not being able to contact your loved ones back in Ghana or not being understood because of your accent all relates to the African diaspora. These are the experiences that individuals undergo when leaving their country such as Ghana and traveling to America or a foreign place. M. Anifest constantly expresses this idea of not knowing, meaning what is coming. To one he seems to be referring to opportunities that may or may not occur. America has painted to this picture that there will be more opportunities for individuals if they leave their current country. So, M. Anifest really emphasizes how he does not know what opportunity is coming next. Overall, his music helps brings great recognition to the country he is from which is Ghana and also displays experiences that individuals face with the African diaspora.
Blitz the Ambassador is a diasporic rapper. The Ghanaian born artists incorporates references about other locations in the “black world.” Through his lyrics he speaks about other African nations including Ethiopia, Somalia, South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt to name a few. His song, “Hello Africa” is a “call and response” to other African nations. Lyrics such as “Nagen def menga fils rollin in Dakar / Cruisin highway Cheikh Anta Diop to Accra / Ugali —- we party in Nairobi / All across the continent you know my people know me” evoke images of a Pan-African identity. Blitz the Ambassador goes beyond rapping about his home in Ghana. Instead, he appears to have a sense of pride while mentioning different cities and villages across Africa. His song, “All Around the World” provides references about members of the African diaspora who exist outside of Africa. The music video’s opening scene takes place in a capoiera circle in Bahia, Brazil. Other images include scenes from a race riot and a militarized police force. Both of these serve as powerful references to the black experience in the western hemisphere. Similar to Hello Africa, All Around the World also employs the names of people, cities, and events in different countries to highlight the black experience there.
Blitz the Ambassador’s song, “Ghana Black Stars” celebrates Ghana’s soccer team and the pride that it brings to being Ghanaian. The music video opens with scenes from a Ghanaian soccer victory. Both verses are spoken in one of Ghana’s indigenous languages (Twi?). He incorporates videos of children in Ghana playing games and people driving in a market place. Clips of large Ghanaian crowds cheering and celebrating something flash briefly between images of soccer players and children. Although I am not able to understand what is being said, it appears as though Blitz is implying the significance of Ghana’s soccer team and that many people take part in it. The images of children playing soccer, the large cheering crowds, and people in the market place selling soccer balls insinuates how significant this sport is to Ghana, its people, and their sense of nationalistic pride.
M.anifest is an African hip hop artist from Ghana. Upon examining his song Coming to America, I cannot help but to think of the American Dream. M.anifest, an African man, is no different than any other person in America. The idea of wealth and prosperity are globally revered. The song’s title in itself sheds light on the meaning of the song. The concept behind the song is the tradition of Africans “coming to america” and leaving their family behind to seek wealth for the family. The video displays differnt American symbols such as, fireworks, the black power fist, and prayer hands. I believe this is key to show how coming to America, the set standards and beliefs are what he is expected to assimilate to. M.anifest says, ” I’m going, I’m coming, what tomorrow holds, nobody knows”. I believe this line is pertinent in the message that America provides a sense of hope. The video also shows people of all races with signs that say welcome. This sends the message that America is welcomed to all people. M.anifest also repeats, “make sure my kid don’t grow up broke”. Many people seek wealth to establoish an easier life for their family, as money is a source of power and status.
M.anifest’s music holds the Diaspora of hip hop through storytelling. The song tells of a tradition in Africa and the perspective he has on going/coming to America. His perception is one based on the image given to America, one of hope for the future and the ability to achieve the American Dream. Hip hop music generally seeks to bring about change in relation to a certain issue, but I feel otherwise when hearing this song. I believe M.anifest’s music is more so used an avenue for personal expression that provides a sense of relatanbility. Coming to America, is a different kind of hip hop. M.anifest’s music is hopeful rather than the usual rebellious and hard culture surrounded around hip hop.
Somalian-born lyricist K’naan can never forget where he came from and he makes it known that he came from the struggle through his music. When he speaks about his country, you can see pride in his face, despite all the havoc and killing that’s going on, he makes it known that he is not ashamed. In his smash song, Wavin Flag, K’naan speaks about the struggles the people in Africa face on the daily and being that K’naan and his family are Somalian refugees, he grew up in Somalia during the civil war. The song starts off with K’naan saying that when he gets older he wants to be free, that’s why he waves his flag back and forth just like any other normal flag. The flag symbolizes freedom and many African nations struggle with their independence and freedom, so by K’naan mentioning that he waves his flag he wants to help liberate his country along with others from poverty and wars. K’naan also talks about how his country, Somalia, was once a rich and successful country before it became the war zone it’s known to be today when he says “Born to a throne, stronger than Rome.” but he respects it for what it has become and still calls it home. Unlike many people who often flee their country because of grief, K’naan is proud that he made it out alive because not many people have many success stories coming from Somalia. When it comes to speaking about the Diaspora through his music, K’naan is quick to educate the unknown about the good, the bad and the ugly and suggest that no one should forget about Somalia because it once was a well known place once upon a time. And although the song has grown to the likes of being used in a Coca Cola commercial, it just goes to show that the song itself has stability to be whatever it wants to be.
Ghana is known for being a pioneer of African Independence. Kwame Nkrumah lead a crusade to reclaim Africa for Africans and invited the whole Diaspora to seek refuge inside the West African land. During the 1960s and 1970s, many African Americans moved to Ghana and reclaimed their African roots, so Ghana over the years has had a special linkage to American Blacks and other members of the continent and the Diaspora.
The Diaspora is comprised of the many lands of exile Africans inhabited after their enslavement. The Diaspora is outside of Africa, but Africa is at the heart of everything. Showing pride for African roots and your Diasporic home is common among many hip hop artists. M.anifest, a Ghanaian hip hop artist who has spent his life living in Ghana and the United States, shows love to both Ghana and America. In M.anifest’s aesthetic appeal, he wears kente cloth, beads, African clothing, and other jewelry that shows a pride in his African heritage. In his music, M.anifest uses language that both his American and Ghanaian listeners can follow but also slips in colloquial that each audience will understand respectively. While listening to M.anifest’s music, it was evident that he uses his worldly view of not only being familiar with Ghanaian culture and American culture, but culture all over the world as a powerful tool to broaden the scope of his lyrics, maximize his audience, and to enhance the overall sound and presentation of music.
I particularly studied M.anifest’s song “Palm Wine & Whisky” The title totally sums up his ties to both American and Ghanaian culture. Palm Wine is a common African alcoholic beverage and an American parallel could be whisky. Both are made from natural sources like palm trees or grain. Using pidgin English, M.anifest uses the trope of “being tipsy” to symbolize how people think that he’s unaware or easy to be fooled, but he asserts that he’s aware of the game and steps ahead. The meaning within a meaning in the song is a very African American hip hop thing to do. Many hip hop artists in America make songs where on the surface it’s just a song about drinking, having fun, and beautiful women, but often interwoven into the lyrics are deep, metaphorical messages that you have to sift through to find which the chorus of “Palm Wine & Whisky” supports. The chorus, rapped by Dex Kwasi, in the third verse says, “palm wine, not whisky” I see this as a rejection of American culture as symbolized by the whisky, and saying that I’m going to choose the African way, my African culture. Also to know that both the American culture and African culture exist, but not letting the American culture overpower the African one.
In class, we focused mainly on the immigrant experience of many African people. The overarching theme through the stories and music of African immigrants is trying to find a balance between an African and American world. This desire for balance could be argued to be a struggle for all Black people wherever they find themselves. How do I stay true to my African self? I think through hip hop, there is an avenue to really make sure that the two selves exist harmoniously. It’s vital for survival. As evidenced through the very nature of this course, hip hop is a language that all black people speak and it’s how we can stay connected.