By: Diego Austin
Mefe is a Spanish-speaking rapper from Equatorial Guinea who now resides in Spain, after being exiled for criticizing the government. Equatorial Guinea has been under a dictatorship since 1979 that has suppressed basic freedoms, and this theme is present in several Equatoguinean artists’ discographies.
In “Combate Final” (Final Combat) Mefe shows her versatility by addressing issues related to gender roles, while also maintaining a conscientious nature and addressing political concerns as well.
Mefe first addresses gender roles in the chorus, saying “fuimos hecho pal combate” or “we were made for combat.” I interpreted this line as challenging traditional gender roles that view women as docile. Mefe’s decision to wear a hoodie throughout the video can also be seen as a challenge to gender roles, as this may not be an outfit a woman would traditionally wear in Equatorial Guinea.
Mefe continues this trend by saying “I don’t move the threads” likely in reference to sewing. She also says, “if I don’t grab a paddle, nobody is going to row for me.” In other words, Mefe is rejecting patriarchal roles and is instead taking charge of her own destiny. Mefe is saying that she will be self-reliant and “row” for herself.
Female rappers in Africa often stress that women are well-rounded, multidimensional people to challenge patriarchal assumptions that objectify them. Mefe follows this pattern by saying “somos fuego, somos agua, somos tierra, somos aire.” This translates to “we are fire, we are water, we are Earth, we are air.” I believe Mefe is using this as a metaphor to stress that women are multidimensional and not limited to simplistic assumptions.
The song also shows an element of braggadocio in the chorus, where Mefe warns other rappers from starting beef with her: “si buscan beef, es pa darnos killa.”
Mefe also incorporates her independent and conscientious nature into the song, which is evident throughout her wider discography. She raps “vinimos con manual de instrucciones al volante…mis principios van delante,” or “we got here with instruction manuals, but my principles come first.” I believe Mefe is trying to challenge the music industry, which creates certain formulas for artists to follow which may bring them more commercial success, but harm their authenticity. For female artists, sexualization is often a part of this. Mefe is rejecting these industry norms and is staying true to her principles.
Finally, Mefe gets political and criticizes the government of Equatorial Guinea. She says that “the problems and circumstances do not change” and “if you want the president to dance for you…show him banknotes.” Mefe also says that “peace isn’t good for the bank account” which may be a criticism of not only Equatorial Guinea, but other governments on the continent and Western interference.
Overall, Mefe’s “Combate Final” is a well-rounded and empowering song that challenges gender norms, shows Mefe’s commitment to the true principles of hip hop, despite industry pressure, and also challenges oppressive regimes.