African migrant experiences

Diaspora based African MCs K’Naan (Somalia/Canada), Blitz the Ambassador (Ghana/U.S.), and M3nsa (Ghana/England).

Chapter Overview

U.S. based, Zimbabwean artist Just Lyphe

This chapter focuses on the relationship between hip-hop and African migrants who now live all over the world. The songs of migrants often speak on the conditions in Africa that led to them to leave. They speak of the stress of being away from their homeland, and the possibility of their return. This chapter argues that the African migrants in the United States represent their experiences and ideologies in their music. It is argued that artists from the United States have a different experience than African hip hop artist who never left home or African-Americans who have only lived in the United States. The chapter goes in depth on the experiences African migrants face in relation to the hip-hop scene and elsewhere.

Discussion Questions

  1. What do the songs from African migrant artists tell us about the African immigrant experience in the United States?
  2. Do African migrant hip-hop artists have less appeal to African inhabitants and more of an appeal to non-Africans? Explain
  3. Reflect on the debate over the term Afropolitan. Discuss some cultural representations (music, books, films, etc) that represent Afropolitan experiences.
  4. Listen to the song “Dearest Child” by Kimba Mutanda (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tV7ErYL7sQ). Summarize what the song is about. How does the song reflect the experiences of other artists in this chapter?

Relevant Podcast Episodes

HHAP Episode 16: Wanlov the Kubolor

Relevant Scholarship

Australia based, South Sudanese artist Mxc Wol. Image provided by artist

Dabiri, E. 2016. “Why I Am (Still) Not an Afropolitan.” Journal of African Cultural Studies 28 (1): 1–5.

K’Naan. 2011. “A Son Returns to the Agony of Somalia.” New York Times, September 24. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion /sunday/returning-to-somalia-after-20-years.html?_r=3&ref =opinion.

K’Naan. 2012. “Censoring Myself for Success.” New York Times, December 8. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/09/opinion/sunday/knaan -on-censoring-himself-for-success.html?_r=0.

Mbembe, A. 2007. “Afropolitanism.” In Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent, edited by N. Simon and L. Durán, 26–30. Johannesburg: Johannesburg Art Gallery.

Saucier, P. K. 2015. Necessarily Black: Cape Verdean Youth, Hip-Hop Culture, and a Critique of Identity. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.

Owusu, T. 2006. “Transnationalism among African Immigrants in North America: The Case of Ghanaians in Canada.” In The New African Diaspora in North America: Trends, Community Building, and Adaptation, edited by K. Konadu-Agyemang, B. K. Takyi, and J. A. Arthur, 273–86. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.