Princess Mwamba

Sarah Mwamba, aka Princess Mwamba was born in Zambia, on May 1990. She enjoyed music and dancing when she lived in Zambia with her family, but it was not until they moved to the U.S. that her serious interest in music developed. Princess Mwamba explains in an interview with lusakatimes.com that she began rapping in 2010, and is asked a question regarding the male dominance of hip-hop and what message she wants her audience to get from her music. She responded that she wants her listeners to find in her music a positive message that tells women to enjoy life and not, “…selling sex and their bodies in the music…”
Unlike some female U.S. rappers, Mwamba wants her music to present an authentic and more positive image of women. Simone Walker, in an article entitled, “Females in Hip-Hop” criticizes U.S. female rappers, and in her opinion lyrical skills don’t really matter and real talent is not needed to be a successful female rap artist in the U.S. Walker states, “if a female artist puts on an outfit that promotes sexuality auto tune can make up in the areas where she lacks creativity. This is not the type of artist Mwamba strives to be; her music is fun, yet sends the message that she is in control; this is evident in her 2011 single, “I am a Princess”

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It is not surprising to find that Princess Mwamba’s response to the question of who inspires her musically, she mentions Brenda Fassie, who usually speaks an African language she does not even understand, yet still appreciates her musicality. I was curious to know what Fassie’s music was like. Brenda Fassie was a South African artist, who was described as a pop singer, whose drug habits interfered with her career; her life was cut short due to a drug overdose in 2004, when she was 40 years old (sahistory.org). Here is an example of her music:

After listening to Fassie’s music, Princess Mwambe’s musical role model, it was not surprising to hear that much of her own music sounds more like dance/ pop music than hip-hop. Songs such as “Intimidated” and “Haters” have a techno dance quality to them. Then, on the song “Michael Jackson” it is apparent that she has been influenced by U.S. male pop and hip-hop artists, and on that song references the Wutang clan.

MC Black Bird

Nona Vundla aka MC Black Bird, was the first female to release a hip-hop album in Zimbabwe (guardian.co.uk).
In a 2012 article on the internet site, reverbnation, Black Bird states she is a 28 year old single mother of 2 children. Her inspiration comes from women in various fields, but her main inspiration is from her mother, whom she describes was, “…a mother of 4, a full-time employee at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, and also a part-time student…” But then she also explains that she admires Oprah Winfrey because she rose from a poverty-stricken background to become, in her opinion, “the world’s most valuable brand within the entertainment industry” (p.8).
Continue reading “MC Black Bird”

Weird MC – Nigeria

Birth Name: Adesola Adesimbo Idowu

Artist Name: Weird MC

A female Nigerian rapper, songwriter, and producer known for her English/Yoruba lyrics. Weird MC, also known as Shola Idowu and The Rappatainer, is one of Africa’s token number of female rap artist’s, and one of the few Nigerian women associated with Afrobeat.

Ogun-native Idowu was born in England to conservative parents who discouraged her from going into showbusiness, but this obviously didn’t stop her.  She attended secondary school education in Nigeria where she met four other girls formed the hip-hop group “Weirdos”. Despite their popularity on the campus circuit, they failed to land a record deal and soon disbanded.  Idowu gained admission into Ogun State University to study Law, but left a year later to focus on her music career.  Influenced by Fela Kuti, Lauryn Hill, Da Roots, Miriam Makeba, Queen Latifah and Jimi Hendrix, Idowu travelled back to England where she competed in rap contests in London, including Club 291 contest, similar to America’s Apollo, in which she placed third.  After working with music producer Kevin Best for two months, Idowu released the single “Wanna Make You Jack/Let’s Get Wet” which received positive reviews from music critics and reached number one in the Choice FM charts.   Idowu began going by the name Weird MC which was coined from the name of her former group.

After a long sabbatical, Idowu returned to her homeland where she released the album “Simply Weird”, a blend of American-style hip hop and Afrobeat, and featured the video-single “Allen Avenue”.  She was the first Nigerian artist to release a video-single in which she also produced and was one of the most prominent rap songs of the early nineties in Nigeria.  The song had three verses capturing the danger lurking beneath the glitz of the Lagos hub, relying on the bass in the rapper’s voice and a head-nodding, but under-produced beat that barely whispered its presence. The hook, repeating “Allen Avenue” monotonously as though it were a mantra, ensured the song never left your head. The careful enunciation reminiscent of late eighties rap recalls an era where one’s pride was more in lyrical prowess than in bling.  The Allen Avenue video raised controversy as her androgyny made fans question her true gender.

Despite the popularity of Allen Avenue, the album failed to sell an impressive number of copies.  Critics agreed that Simply Weird was ahead of its time (people felt it was too foreign… not rootsy, or ‘African’ enough). Despite this setback, Idowu was honored with several awards, including the very first AMEN award for Best Hip Hop Album.  In 2006, Idowu released her second album “After Da Storm”.  Hip-hop was now becoming a major recognized form of music in Nigeria.  Her single “Ijoya” which means “time to dance” produced by Don Jazzy and JJC was a massive success.  “Ijoya” earned her an AMEN award for Most Pop Song, and a Channel O Music Video Award for Best Special Effect.  Following the success of After Da Storm, Idowu continued her studies at the Music Technology in London.  Apart from being a solo artiste, Idowu has collaborated with other artistes including Femi Kuti and close friend Kween.

While American female rappers have the benefit of a more defined cultural ground, it is not so clear for Nigeria. This is a country very much in transition in our cultural history, wanting to move forward but casting too many sidelong glances at the past. Perhaps we will see more woman break barriers in Nigerian music when we decide what these barriers are. (“Women In Nigerian Hip Hop“)

Citing herself as an example, she said she had to fight her way to the top back then when the industry was dominated by men.  “I use myself as an example, Allen Avenue came out from nowhere and it became a huge success. Then I took my time and I came up with Ijoya. I was standing side by side with the male artistes and I was doing major shows. I tell them that they need to work hard.”

“This is not a business where you have to be timid, neither will things be handed to you. You have to stand up and earn your place. I tell them, it is not just about your nails and Brazilian hair, it is about content. If you do not have the content, you will never get the recognition and respect that you deserve. If you stay timid and at the back of the line, no one will ever recognize you.”  (Nigerian Female Rappers Are Scared)

You need to watch the videos below to understand and appreciate what Weird MC has contributed to the Nigerian Music Industry.  Her story is in itself an inspiration for those out there who have a passion.  She followed her’s and has become an Icon in the Nigerian music industry.

To get her latest news and updates you can follow her at https://twitter.com/da_weirdmc01

or visit her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/weird-mc-da-rappatainer/83740883648?sk=info

Dama Do Bling – Mozambique’s Queen of Hip-Hop

Dama do Bling, born Ivannea Jose in Maputo, Mozambique, is the queen of Mozambican hip hop and may be one of the best female rappers from Africa. Dama do Bling, born as Ivannea Mudanisse in 1979, started her career featuring on two tracks of the second album of Mozambique’s Queen of Reggae, Lizha James, in 2005. The next year, she released her debut single called “Haterz”. Her self-titled album followed soon and featured artistes like Catya, Denny OG, DRP, Hernani and Lizha James of course. She released her second album called ‘Chamades Para A Blin’ in 2007.

She has been referred to as Mozambique’s Lil’ Kim. Dam do Bling music can be classified as hip hop but has elements of crunk as well as local Mozambican music.  Called a lusophone Queen Latifah and Mozambican Lil Kim, Dama do Bling (“lady of bling”) has become the Queen of Mozambican hip-hop, and through her collaboration with Pan-African superstars like Nigeria’s Sasha P, Kenya’s Yvonne, and Bleksem from South Africa she has become well-known all over the continent.

Before she became Mozambique’s queen of hip-hop, though, Dama do Bling was the queen of scandal. Standing for a new, younger generation of Mozambican musicians, she offended the “old guard” in several ways. Her sexy clothing and provocative moves on stage became the target of fierce critique, in particular when, despite being pregnant and starting to show, she continued to perform. One commentator in the country’s independent newspaper O País called Dama do Bling’s shows an “attack on moral decency and a crime” since she disrespected moral values of proper female public conduct and violated the dignity of the child in her womb. In another article, the same journalist called Dama do Bling’s way of exposing her body “anti-African” and a consequence of non-African influences that don’t value the female body. He called on the government to devise rules for musicians’ proper behavior on stage.

Dama do Bling’s law degree from Mozambique’s national university in Maputo, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (UEM), made some commentators ask why she preferred appearing scantily clad in public, if she could help solve the country’s problems. Her music was accused of lacking a message. The need for well-educated people in Mozambican society and the fact that Dama do Bling received her education at a publicly financed institution made people strongly criticize her choice of pursuing a career in the music industry.

Maputo-based sociologists discussed the “phenomenon Dama do Bling” widely as a symptom of change in Mozambican society (e.g., Carlos Serra from UEM on his blog). The sociologist Patricio Langa spoke of a “silent revolution”—a change of social values, disguised in a debate about what Mozambican music should look like. Carlos Serra, sociologist at the UEM’s African Studies Center, ridiculed the debate about Dama do Bling’s “untraditional” style by posting pictures of traditional dances featuring women in short skirts with uncovered breasts. Serra argued that behind the discourse on what is (and should be) Mozambican was a deep concern over men’s loss of control over the female body. Langa called out for diversity in Mozambican music: “Just let people be!”

This was also Dama do Bling’s reaction to the whole polemic. Asked for her response to the wide-spread accusations, she pointed out that she wasn’t scandalous, but “irreverent” and just said and did whatever she liked. “People tend not to receive new things well since it’s something that they have never seen,” she explained in response to the public outcry. Justifying doing things differently, she said: “We the young can’t build on those things from 20 years ago, because [if we did so], we would die.” Her first book, hence, was an autobiography with the title O Diário de Uma Irreverente (The diary of an irreverent woman). Beyond acting as she likes and defending the young’s inventiveness, though, her attitude didn’t seem to have much of a political or feminist message.

“A young person with a university degree can’t sing, but a minister with a 6th grade education can legislate?,” Dama do Bling sang in her 2007 song “Sai,” a musical response to inquiries why, in spite of her law degree, she chose a career in the music industry. This statement is exemplary of Dama do Bling’s provocative personality that has sparked much debate, at least in the early years of her music career in her native Mozambique, where she’s a big star.

A regular on South Africa’s video channel ‘Channel O’, she was the winnder for ‘Best Female’ and ‘Best African Southern’ awards (for ‘Danca Do Remexe’) on October 2007.

Currently recording her fifth studio album and writing her third book, she is “one of the female voices to watch in 2013.”

Keko – Uganda

Keko (born Jocelyne Tracey Keko) is a Ugandan rapper who has taken over the music scene in Africa during 2011. Her music, which focuses predominantly on the youth, is groovy, yet has some deep underlying message that gives you a glimpse of who Keko is. It also brings out different issues that people around the globe can identify with. Her rise to fame began in 2010 with the release of “Fallen Heroes”, where she appeared alongside other established Ugandan artists like Don MC, SP, DAVIS and the Mwanba children choir. After delivering what was arguably the best verse on the track, Keko began to turn heads with her lyrics, delivery style and sheer presence on tracks. Her breakthrough single ‘How We Do It’ took the Ugandan charts by storm, making her an instant household name in East Africa. The success of the track led to a 2011 Channel O video music Award for most gifted East African Video, and more recently a synch with Supersport Africa. Uganda’s hip hop sensation 

 

I don’t think Africa has had a female rapper that is as versatile and able to paint vivid pictures with words the way I do in my music. I am a rapper, singer, song writer and I like to believe I am the whole package. My inspirations range from my environment to Afrigo band (Uganda), Lauryn Hill, Tupac Shakur and Kanye West. My target group is predominantly the youth, that is, the teenagers and young adults who understand the music; I wouldn’t, however, want to close myself in because the album shows a mature side of Keko that even the older generation will appreciate.” (Keko – Repping Uganda)

This past September 2012, Sony Music Entertainment Africa announced the signing of this multi-award winning Ugandan rapper.  The deal is the first of its kind that sees an artist from Uganda signed to a multi-album and full management deal with a major record company. Multi-Award Winning East African Rap Star Makes Ugandan History signing Major International Recording and Management Deal

To learn more and get the last news about Keko, follow her at www.twitter.com/kekotown.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/KEKO/122002771201183

http://www.reverbnation.com/kekotown

African Rebel Movement – A.R.M.

A.R.M. which stands for African Rebel Movement consists of none other than M.anifest hailing Ghana and now in Minnesota and Krukid who comes from Uganda and now lives in Las Vegas. One recent album is called Uprising and it definitely tries to create one although the uprising itself is not really described in too much detail or really promoted much in their rhymes. . Their lyrics are generally positive and relate to life on the streets, and the hip hop industry both in Africa and in America. A.R.M. looks to possibly be a more conscious politically oriented side project of well established artists, primarily in the case of M.anifest but their releases to date dont really convey the message of rebellion yet and seem to be out there to help the record sales uprising as much as the people’s uprising.

“Fear of the Mundane” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G35M25R8mcY&feature=related
“Africans” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRSw5hEqUf0
“Heaven Only Knows” Ft Brother Ali http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkFtm5IBDfw
“Two Africans and a Jew” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1vyrUfRKUU&feature=related
“As We Enter” over Nas and Damien Marley http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ic4zNLFUTg&feature=related

Code-Switching in Contemporary Nigerian Hip-Hop Music

The article Code-Switching in Contemporary Nigerian Hip-Hop Music by E. Taiwo Babalola and Rotimi Taiwo discusses about the use of code-switching by Nigerian hip-hop artists. Code-switching, according to the article, is a sociolinguistic term that describes the alternating of two or more languages or dialects in a single communication. The writers talk about how even though most Nigerian hip-hop singers use English, they still try to identify with their roots by mixing English with their indigenous languages. In this article, the writers examine the nature, reason, stylistic effects and implications of code-switching by giving illustrations from the works of various Nigerian hip-hop artists. The article can be accessed by clicking the link below.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/255582876_Code-switching_in_contemporary_Nigerian_hip-hop_music

Hip-Hop in Dakar, Senegal

In his article, A Historical Analysis of Hip-Hop’s Influence in Dakar from 1984-2000, Ben Herson discusses how American hip-hop culture has influenced youth and music in Dakar, Senegal. He also states that this new Western form of music is not necessarily “corrupting” traditional values. Rap is not forcing itself onto Senegalese youth, rather it has been adopted as a way for young people to express their opinions and beliefs. Rap has even changed the world of politics, opening up questions about money, power and religion–topics which were often considered too controversial to discuss.

Youth in Senegal do not merely copy their Western counterparts, they fuse traditional music together with rap–many of their lyrics are in the native language, Wolof. Rap has brought many people together. Since rap groups are formed based on neighborhood and class, they represent the ethnic mix of Dakar.

Many youth in Senegal have tried to use English in their lyrics to seem more “authentic”, but Herson claims that this is not merely because they want to seem American, rather, they recognize that many job opportunities are available to those that speak English. Senegalese youth find ways to display material wealth through the clothing and jewelry that they wear. Many young people save their money until they can purchase authentic brand-name clothing, even though there may be cheaper knockoff version available. Senegalese youth are painfully aware of the stereotypes that exist about them in the Western world and want to separate themselves from them. Their reinterpretation of hip-hop allows them to address their complex social problems and dispel these myths.

Ukoo Flani Mau Mau

 

Hailing primarily out of the streets of Nairobi, Kenya but also Mombasa, Keny and even Tanzania are Ukoo Flani Mau Mau. They are a well molded collective, with a power and uniqueness and flavor that could only come from so many unique backgrounds uniting with a message under the banner of hip hop. 24 members at the moment make up the crew and their name deserves attention. It is an acronym for “a clan of Mau Mau” who reference is the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya from 1952-1960 by anti-colonial fighters against the British following  severe violent repression and economic deprivation. After years of struggle with mass murder and human rights violations by the British, the Mau Mau are revered as revolutionaries who paved the way to independence. So Ukoo Flani consist of K-Shaka, Wenyeji, Wakamba Wawili, MC Kah, Mashifta, G-rongi, Ukoo Flani (MSA:-Nguchi P, Chiznbrain, Alai Kenti, Sharama, P.O.P, Lavosti, FUJO Makelele, Cannibal, R.I.C aka Jinamizi, Labalaa, Dr. Dunga, And me DEE7 representing TANZANIA, Richizee, Shaolin aka Grand Mantis, and others. “The name UKOOFLANI is an acronym that reads Upendo Kote Olewenu Ombeni Funzo La Aliyetuumba Njia Iwepo, i.e. love everywhere all who seek teachings of the creator; there is a way.” Also according to their face book, “The objectives of the group are quality enhancement to enable hiphop to be the language to pass the real/true message to society. Through enlightening people on the economic prospects of hiphop they’d like to prove its viability as a business and a way to sustain an income for fellow youth from disadvantaged backrounds. UFMM believe hiphop is a tested and proven way out of the ghetto because it has been their rehabilitation. Each member has a story to tell about how hiphop changed their lives into artistic superiority. Coming from an environment where its an achievement to see the age of 25, and where an average person earns less than $1 a day; UFMM happily prove that with wit, clever poetry, leadership, wisdom and love, one can control their destiny.”
Now, Im not sold on that the solution to poverty in Kenya being hip hop but it certainly will be involved. The youth talk about the harsh realities on the streets and life in ghettos. They take political ideologies from revolutionaries throughout history to include Che Guevara and Fidel Castro in the hard hitting “Burn Dem.” They even use actual footage of the uprising and the British crack-down in the beautiful song “Angalia Saa.”

 

“Burn Dem” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcRd4IZH0hw
“Angalia Saa” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqARPgKnTnE&feature=fvwrel
Hip Hop Halisi” Ft Nazizi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpijF6Prqlc&feature=related
“Ukoochonoo” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnhDNPPMX1o&feature=related
“Ghetto Fabulus” Ft Sister Sllage http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myY1WAJlpLg&feature=related

More Ugandan Hip-Hop

As most already know Hip-Hop comes in all shape and forms, from to the B(Boy), to the DJ, to the Graffiti artist, to the Rappers and Poets. In Uganda it is the same, but its impact on the country is far greater than its impact in the Americas to me. In America usually the artists are using these talents they have to become star and make it big. In Uganda artists are using there talents to reach the lost youth and provide a different from of outlet for them rather than crime or running wild with no real guidance. for Example in Uganda some Bboys have taken it upon them selfs to use hip-hop as a tool in order lure the youth so they can teach them and show them other forms of expressing who they are.. These BBoys are known as Uganda’s,  “Bouncing Cats”

These BBoys shows how breaking and other elements of hip hop can bring youth from different tribes together peacefully and help them all to rebuild a sense of pride and identity as individuals and as african people.

And Not Only Are the fellas Doing their Part in the HipHop game but the ladies are doing their part as well. Considered one of the best female Hip Hop artists in Uganda, she goes by the name of Keko.

Keko is a Ugandan artist who comes from Tororo a. With her cool swag  she has made a major impact on the rap game in Uganda, and is a major inspiration for more upcoming young female artists who feel they’re voices have not been heard in this genre of music expression.

Hotep… Family… Bless