Chapter Overview

This is an overview of the chapters in this book. The link to the chapters provide further details about the specific resources available in those chapters.

“Boomerang” is the 2003 song and debut album by the Senegalese group Daara J

Chapter 1: “Boomerang”: Hip Hop & Pan African Dialogues

“Often when we speak of Pan-Africanism it is through the diasporic gaze, through the diaspora reflecting on African connections. We seldom consider the African gaze and African reflections on diasporic linkages. It is crucial to consider both, and in fact to look at Pan-Africanism using multiple lenses, and in consideration of the cultural linkages that encompass a global African (race as opposed to citizenship) population.” (Clark, p. 8)

  • Links hip hop rhyme, storytelling, and drum patterns to rhyming, storytelling, and drum patterns in African culture, to suggest both continuity and an understanding of hip hop’s growth in Africa.
  • This chapter defines hip hop in Africa vis-a-vis other forms of popular music in Africa, as well as U.S. hip hop.
  • This chapter takes on the question of “authenticity” with an analysis of the employment of established hip hop rhyme schemes found in hip hop in Africa.
  • This chapter argues the existence of a musical relationship between the continent and the US Diaspora, as well as within the continent, through the use of sampling and collaborations.

Chapter 2: “Understand Where I’m Coming From”: The Growth of African Hip Hop and Representations of African Culture

“Understand Where I’m Coming From” is a song by pioneering South African hip hop group Prophets of Da City, and their 1993 album Age of Truth.

“There are definite similarities seen in cultural representations produced through hip-hop music all over the African continent. These similarities include expressions of hip-hop’s core elements and culture and articulations of similar economic and political environments. Differences among representations in hip-hop in Africa come from the diverse environments that exist on the continent…” (Clark, p. 36)

Zavara Mponjika aka Rhymson from the Tanzanian hip hop group Kwanza Unit.
  • This chapter argues that economic and political events on the continent in the 1980s and 1990s led to the development and politicization of hip hop culture
  • This chapter details the ways in which hip hop emerged as a tool to represent social dissonance
  • This chapter presents hip hop as a cultural representation beyond the music, specifically the use graffiti, media (film, magazines, radio), and fashion as forms of cultural representations within hip hop culture.

Chapter 3: “Lettre à Mr Le Président”: Social and Political Representations: Protest v. Combat Literature

“Lettre à Mr le Président” is the 2009 song by Cameroonian hip-hop artist Valsero

“Many of the protest songs written by artists are directed toward both the state and the people. They serve as critiques of the governments, warnings to political leaders, and calls to action to the people. In this way, the music of these artists is a narrative of social change in their country and can also be an example of Fanon’s “combat literature.” The lyrics construct a narrative of the social and political changes occurring in a country, from a certain perspective. The lyrics’ calls for action make them a tool for mobilization.” (Clark, p. 73)

  • This chapter examines the varying relationships between the state and hip hop communities in Africa.
  • This chapter uses Frantz Fanon’s analysis of protest and combat literature to examine the use of hip hop in social protest and social change in Africa.
  • This chapter examines the role of hip hop in mobilizing for social and political change in the past 10 years.
  • This chapter examines select social and human rights issues that hip hop artists in Africa have engaged through their music.
Mejah Mbuya from Tanzania’s Wachata Crew, the country’s oldest graffiti crew.

Chapter 4: “Femme de Combat”: Gendered Representations

“Femme de Combat” is the 2009 song by Black Tiger, Thais, Burni Aman, Rene Mosele from the album Rogue State Of Mind.

“Urban women in Africa operate within a myriad of cultural, ethnic, and national codes that influence their participation in hip-hop culture. (Global) hip-hop culture also plays a defining role in that participation… Marcyliena Morgan (2005) points to the values of both noncensorship and representation within hip-hop culture, which have allowed women a platform from which to resist their silencing and policing. Expressions of sexuality by female artists in hip-hop range from symbolism hidden in lyrical slang to explicit proclamations.” (Clark, p. 136″

  • This chapter examines the cultural (local and global) environments in which female artists operate
  • This chapter argues that the use of the hip hop tradition of braggadocio is used by artists to force a space for themselves in hip hop communities and serves to challenge ideas of femininity.
  • This chapter argues that female artists present more nuanced representations of women and gendered social issues.
  • This chapter examines the varying representations of female sexuality, sexual pleasure, and sexual identity by African female artists as legitimate representations of African womanhood.

Chapter 5: “Make You No Forget”: Representations of African migrant experiences in African Hip Hop

“Make You No Forget” is a song by Ghana’s Blitz the Ambassador on his 2014 album Afropolitan Dreams.

“The voices of African hip-hop artists among those post-2000 migrants have allowed for the construction of new narratives of African migrant experiences. US-based African hip-hop artists represent a coalescence of African and diaspora experiences and identities. Positioned at an intersection of both African and African American cultures, they are simultaneously alienated from both. It is thus through their music that a certain African immigrant experience is constructed, one connected to both diaspora and home. And it is through the artists themselves that we understand the impact of African migrant experiences on the idea of home and the importance of return.” (Clark, 182)

  • This chapter argues that US based African artists represent post-2000 African migrant experiences that differ from previous waves of African migrants
  • This chapter examines African migrant artists representations of alienation, ties to home, and transnationalism
  • This chapter argues that Diaspora-based African hip hop artists present additional considerations in the debate over “Afropolitanism” as a cultural identity for contemporary, hypertransnational African migrants.

Chapter 6: “Brkn Lngwjz”: Language, identity and cultural appropriation

“The choice of which language to rap in can go beyond a question of language fluency. Artists who are fluent in European languages yet choose to rap in African languages or dialects are making a conscious decision that is often influenced by the intended audience, marketability, authenticity, political views, and a desire to strengthen cultural connections. The result has sometimes meant the mainstreaming of African languages and dialects among the youth.” (Clark, p. 187)

“Brkn Lngwjz” is a song by Ghana’s Fokn Bois (Wanlov the Kubolor & M3nsa) for the soundtrack to the 2010 film Coz ov Moni.
  • This chapter argues that the use of African American Vernacular English and the employment of codeswitching by African migrant hip hop artists are representations of transnationalism among contemporary African migrants.
  • This chapter argues that the ways in which hip hop artists use language to “represent” their identities speaks to variations in cultural identities and cultural competencies among African hip hop artists.
  • This chapter compares the debate over language use in African literature in the 1970s with the debate over language use in African hip-hop now.