Africa is no stranger to protesting wrongdoings in their society. For decades countries have been protesting corruption, health issues, wealth distribution, racism, and police brutality. Yes, police brutality too. It may come shocking to some because why would countries of majority one race have these issues but they are there and exist unfortunately. Artists have been using their voices to raise awareness to issues like this to speak to the government and demand change. They use their voices to uplift people in demographics who haven’t been heard to make a difference in this generation and hopefully for future generations to come.
Sarkodie – Brown Paper Bag
This song was the perfect opener for this tape. The title alone has reference to the brown paper bag test used to determine if your skin was light or fair enough to eat, sit, enter certain places. In the song he is expressing how disappointed he is with society about issues like these and more and how people are handling them. His word choice in the song makes it seem as people are conforming to these more western ideals and being too complacent for his liking. One of his lyrics is “We gonna push to be free before it’s hell late”. He’s calling on the people to want to make a change for themselves so they aren’t trapped in these norms.The song overall has the continuous theme of social change within the lyrics.
Dee Wayne – End Sars
The Nigerian social movement End Sars which stands for Special Anti Robbery Squad. This Squad was formed to be able to protect the people of Nigeria but they abused their power. They would do unnecessary road checks, take people out of their cars and beat and harass them for long amounts of time. They also abused their power to make people pay them to release them for crimes they didn’t commit. Even countries in Africa can face issues with police brutality. When more and more people started finding out about the wrongdoings by watching it happen or having friends and family fall victim to it, the social movement started. A few days after the protests they won and the police department announced the disbanding of this unit. The video showcases thousands of people peacefully protesting in the street but being met with violence from the police. This goes to show just how the people are starting to take things into their own hands and fight for justice. In this song you can really feel their emotions of pain and distrust within their country. How are they supposed to feel safe when their own people are killing them. The conveyed mood of the song is that they really are just trying to survive and don’t want to end up dead.
MC Caro – Bring Our Money Back
In Liberia an incident in which roughly 25 million usd was “lost” the public was enraged. The government is no stranger to corruption but losing the shipping containers with this amount was too much for the public to let slide. Many rappers used this opportunity to bring awareness with their lyrics and demand the government to demand answers. She has a very upbeat and aggressive tone compared to the more sorrowful tones in the previous songs but nonetheless important to showcase different ways rappers approach social change through their music. She isn’t moping around. She is very angry along with the people and is fighting this uncovered corruption. In the video we see news articles of politicians and headlines of the absurd amount of money being concealed from the public as well as people holding signs with words like “We want our money back:.The track brings unity within the people of her country as well as the other songs before this to fight for a change they want to see.
Kno – Cape of Good Hope
This artist is from South Africa which is known for having many racial and economic disparity issues as well as the Apahrtied. South Africa similar to America are facing long lasting effects of said aphartied which is hurting the Black and colored population. This song isn’t as aggressive and isn’t fighting one specific political issue. Rather it raises awareness of what is going on within the community. Different from the previous aggressive song this track is more of a calm feeling but the weight it holds in the lyrics are still very heavy. “Man my people are dying just because of the system”. The artist also mentions the practice of load shedding which can leave people without power for hours if their area isn’t in demand at the time of the removal of electricity. The title itself can allude to how Cape Town is a community with aspirations but similarly to the other mentioned situations they are trying to “stay afloat” given the hardships they face. The imagery in the video shows gun violence but also young children being fed by what seems to be foriegn volunteers. Despite all this they are still trying to stay positive and pray for better days.
To wrap up these songs fit the mentioned social justice and protest rap we see in Africa. From the many issues like police brutality, corruption, and underdeveloped/funded cities; rappers bring awareness and call on the people to want to make a change as well as challenging the government to get the answers and protection they deserve.