In this episode we speak with Ghanian-born, U.S. based artist Laura Lora. In the interview, Laura Lora talks about her experiences an artist, navigating between Ghana and the United States. Growing up in Los Angeles has definitely influenced her music and style, as she talks about being Ghanian and American. Laura Lora, who majored in Black Studies in college, also talks about her experiences in the African American community, and with the divide between Africans and Africans Americans in the United States.
Her music and work has also placed her in conversations around gender and sexuality, where she chooses to confront ideas on how African, or Ghanian women should dress and behave. In this interview she also addresses ideas of beauty and femininity, which she has also chosen to challenge.
Laura Lora is very conscious and intentional about her music, and the messages she wants to send. She is very intentional about her confrontations with gender and identity. Her most recent video for the song “Rebel” blends hip hop, femininity, Ghanian ascetics, and American sounds and visuals. The colorful video is clear in its expression of all of these identities.
You can find Laura lora on:
South Africa’s Ms. Nthabi 🇿🇦 has just released the mixtape “Broken Silence” on SoundCloud. Ms. Nthabi is an established emcee, and it’s good to hear her back. She has established a reputation as both a lyricist and spoken word artist. It’s not easy finding her previous stuff online, but you can find some of her powerful spoken word performances via Google searches. With a career that has expanded more than a decade, Ms. Nthabi is one of the artists newer generations of emcees often cite as a source of inspiration. Her new mixtape, “Broken Silence” is one of the few projects she’s released in a long time. It’s a 6-track, introspective project that blends her lyricism & spoken word skills. The songs address her experiences in the industry and her personal journey, offering some insight into what may have accounted for her hiatus from rap. Women are an important part of a recent surge of dope lyricism and strong hip hop content coming out of South Africa, content that departs from the country’s commercial hip hop scene. Content that is getting increasing international attention. This environment is positive for hip hop culture in SouthAfrica & may have influenced Ms. Nthabi’s new release. The mixtape can be found on SoundCloud.
This semester students in the Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa course did either podcasts and art pieces. This is some of the artwork submitted from this semester’s students.
The Hip-Hop industry, like many others within patriarchal societies, remains male-dominated. However, the growing presence of talented female artists who challenge and question the status quo and defy gender roles with their lyrics lends hope to a future of non-gender-biased music. Sarona Motlhagodi, more popularly known as her stage name, Sasa Klaas, is a hip-hop star from Botswana who embraces her femininity and sexuality, while dispelling negative or limiting conceptions about women. Continue reading “Exploring Lyrical & Artistic Feminism: Botswana’s Hip-Hop Star, Sasa Klaas”
Although many understand hip-hop as simply a music genre consisting of rap and electronic beats, in actuality, hip-hop is an urban art form that depicts reality in the form of skillful lyricism designed to expose social issues and produce political change. The candid nature of hip-hop propels artists to shed light on pressing issues, and challenge, chastise, or address society’s shortcomings. Botswana’s Lebo Tsiako, more popularly known by her stage name, Enigma, is a talented hip-hop artist and emcee who both confronts and defies the stereotypes and prejudices which are embedded into a male-dominated society. Continue reading “Botswana’s Hip-hop Star, Enigma Pushes for Social Change”
Today I picked Kenyan-Norweigan rapper Stella Mwangi because I thought she ties in all of the themes we talked about in class very well. Additionally, I believe that her use of language in her song Koolio is interesting and bridges two different cultures together.
Continue reading “Stella Mwangi’s Koolio”
Sister Fa, formerly known as Fatou Diatta, was born in Dakar, Senegal. She debuted her first demo tape in 2000 and officially entered the stage or West African rap. Her songs are meant to expose the realities of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Continue reading “Sister Fa: A Human Rights Activist”
Wangechi Waweru is a Kenyan rapper, singer, and songwriter. She was born on January 19th 1994 in Nairobi, Kenya. Growing up she knew she had a love for music. Wangechi has said that her passion for music derived from listening to Nazizi who is a rapper and songstress. She listened to African music from rappers such as Kalamashaka but she also listened to American music. At just the age of 12 she came to love music by artists such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Notorious B.I.G, Lauryn Hill, and many more. Wangechi’s taste in music was very diverse and eventually that diversity fed into her own music. When she finally found her calling for music she released her first mixtape, “Consume Chakula ya Soul”, in 2013. She came into the rap game with a unique and versatile flow. Continue reading “Here’s To US”
Within the African hip hop community, there are often instances in which artists leave their home country to pursue an academic career elsewhere. When they return to their country and produce hip hop, they sometimes combine their native language with English, creating a unique blend of cultural references. However, there are also times in which artists choose to rap in their native tongue, even though they possess the capability to rap English. Continue reading “Dumi Hi Phone – Sho Madjozi”
UK-based rapper, Little Simz, chronicles the struggles both herself and her community face in the video for her 2015 single, “Gratitude.”
Little Simz, originally from Nigeria, connects with her African heritage throughout the video. She utilizes clips of student protests that took place in Cape Town in 2015 to further emphasize the abstract idea of struggle. In one of the clips, a protester is saying that “education is not a privilege, it is a right.” In 2015, students at South African universities protested against the increase in tuition fees and demanded that they be cut by at least 11%. In “Gratitude”, Little Simz says:
“Put my feet in the studio and call it my home
While others have got no way out/”
Continue reading “Little Simz Reflects On Her Struggles in “Gratitude” Visual”