This Sunday, the 20th of May, the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art will host a book talk for the new book Hip-Hop in Africa: Prophets of the City & Dustyfoot Philosophers
This interview with Ugandan artist Ruyonga, formerly known as Krukid, is an in-depth discussion on the artist’s perspective on the Black experience, relations between African Americans and Africans in America, his issues with the Black Panther film, being a Christian MC, and his perspective on laws and politics in Uganda.
Ruyonga studied in the U.S. in the early 2000s. He began rapping in Uganda before coming to the States, and he established an underground career in the U.S. and became known for his distinct sound and strong lyrical ability. After almost a decade in the US, Ruyonga returned to Uganda. He changed his name to Ruyonga and built his career as a Christian rapper.
After a long stay Ruyonga has an interesting perspective on being an African immigrant in America, and the tensions between African and African American communities. He talks about those tensions from an African immigrant perspective, and comments on the diverse racial and ethnic dynamics he saw in different parts of the United States. The conversation turns towards pop culture and race and Ruyonga has strong feelings about the Black Panther and the representations of Africans in the film, and Hollywood’s presentation of the Black experience.
Ruyonga also opens up about his views on race, Black pride, and feminism, as well as his views on the ways different groups of people have been pitted against each other. Part of the conversation includes the artist’s views on some of Uganda’s more controversial laws regarding women and sexuality, especially the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Still a strong lyricist, Ruyonga now uses Christianity as the vehicle with which to express his lyricism. His latest release is Voice Of My Father, and follows an impressive body of work that spans over 10 years. Ruyonga is on
BandCamp at https://ruyonga.bandcamp.com
7:30 “African American, American African”
9:30 “Pearl City Anthem”
11:45 “Hand of God”
12:40 Background and move to the US
14:00 The Black Experience
15:15 African & African American relations
23:42 The Black Panther movie & Hollywood
29:33 Black pride, feminism
32:00 The return to Uganda
37:18 Christianity & politics
In one of his singles from 2017, Liberian Trapco artist Bucky Raw incorporates both Liberian colloquial and American references in “Pump Tire”. Pump tire is known as a form of punishment in Liberia where one squats up and down repeatedly until they have learned their lesson through the pain experienced. Using a bumping hip hop beat, Bucky Raw tells anyone that is broke or fronting on him to “pump tire”, as he brags about his flow and status in Trapco, using women and the hustle for money as a reference.
His chorus tells those who are broke and “gbele” to “pump tire” as they cant even afford to buy something as small as a pepper. Girls who “take money for free” and show off with the money that is not theirs can also “pump tire”. These are all common terms in Liberian colloquial. He then uses American slang in his hook by repeatedly saying “you hear me”, a phrase used after a statement to ensure the audience is paying attention to what he has to say. Continue reading “Bucky Raw Shows Us What Trapco is All About in “Pump Tire””
Color: the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye as a result of the way the object reflects or emits light.
From my knowledge and experience, colors captivate not only the eye, but evoke specific emotional and psychological responses in human beings physically. For decades, the urban youth have utilized blends of hues to express sentiments, awareness and inner passions in the form of graffiti. On Saturday, April 7th at in front of Trinity College’s Mather Hall, I visited a beautiful graffiti exhibition which showcased gifted artists from all over the world as part of the 13th Trinity International Hip Hop Festival.
The installation included two large cubes which featured graffiti paintings on each of the four visible sides of each cube (eight paintings). Each piece showcased bright color combinations which told a story. For example, Marcelo Ment from Brazil did a piece which showed a woman with colorless parts of her face while her hair was made of a variety of bright and warm color combinations. Another side of the block showcased the turquoise, green and blue mixture of a girl’s French braids, with pink accents. The colors complimented each other and flowed like mystical water. In addition, Artists Lindaluz Carrillo, Kamil Kucharek, and Poptart from Hartford, and Yuanjie K-Ching Qian from Montreal all composed their pieces within minutes, leaving their mark for all to marvel. Their work represented a culture of conscious art which I personally revere especially at a time in which Graffiti is going extinct due to gentrification. During the exhibition, another viewer mentioned that with less spaces left unoccupied by cameras, there are less opportunities for graffiti artists to tag areas with messages. The conversation led me to further appreciate the art, not only for its authenticity, and cultural impact, but also for its endangered state.
This year’s past Trinity International Hip Hop Festival also featured a live Graffiti Exhibition at the Gates Quad, an area in front of Mather Hall. The two-cube installation was created that Saturday morning with works by Marcelo Ment from Brazil, Hartford natives Lindaluz Carrillo, Poptart, and Kamil Kucharek, Yuanije K-Ching Qian from Montreal, Canada.
The first piece that I really liked was the freestyle graffiti piece by Brazilian artist Marcelo Ment. The intricate graffiti piece features a clever combination of lines and color to create depth and emphasis of the blend of both a bookcase and cityscape setting. The use of both warm and cool colors with blue, yellow, red, green and purple hues creates further contrast. There is movement in the center of the piece with a spiral shape connecting two silhouettes facing opposite of one another surrounded by terms such as “I am one because we are one”, “life”, and “respect”. “Trinity His Hop” is written in bold white letters in the bottom corner to pay homage to the festival. The graffiti piece highlights empowerment, unity and education through its’ bold lettering and style.
Another piece I really liked was the abstract Tetris-like piece which I believe is by Lindaluz Carrillo, an artist and graduate from the University of Hartford. The piece is a 3D abstract Tetris-like shape with landscape details inside the shape. The cool blue tones go the mountains and waves inside the shape contrast with the warm pink surrounding it. The use of black inside the shape also gives it an illusion of a face. I would consider this to be quite an urban piece as abstract shapes that both makes you think and strikes emotion are very common in graffiti art.
The graffiti exhibition was an effective visual art piece for the festival. The main piece “Trinity Hip Hop” in front of the first cube was a great backdrop for some Trinity Festival photos! The bold graffiti letters against a dark background creates contrast and attracts attention to the words on the piece. The graffiti overall surrounds us around urban themes, including empowerment, courage and unity.
This podcast is about American, Jamaican and Somalia artist that helped to promote the Ethiopian music on a global scale. The artists that I will cover on this podcast are two American and one Jamaican native.
Just to give a brief background about Ethiopian music and the different modals. Ethiopian music uses a distinct modal system that is pentatonic, with characteristically long intervals between some notes.
The music of the highlands uses a fundamental modal system called qenet, of which there are four main modes: tezeta, bati, ambassel, and anchihoy. Three additional modes are variations on the above: tezeta minor, bati major, and bati minor. Some songs take the name of their qenet, such as tizita, a song of reminiscence. When played on traditional instruments, these modes are generally not tempered (that is, the pitches may deviate slightly from the Western-tempered tuning system), but when played on Western instruments such as pianos and guitars, they are played using the Western-tempered tuning system.
Music in the Ethiopian highlands is generally monophonic or heterophonic. In certain southern areas, some music is polyphonic. Dorze polyphonic singing (edho) may employ up to five parts; Majangir, four parts.
So the artists that I have chosen to speak about today which had sampled etiopian music in the past are Nas, The weekend also known as Abel and Kanaan the somalin native rapper.
I have copied the links to the songs below:
Nas and Jr Gong Marley– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMGd3mAfl-0&list=PL3DOt_twxxmbsybgpo-XDLTiUMmwJZJfP
On this song the original song that is sampled is by the famous Ethiopian artists tilahun gessese. Nas and Jr Gong Marley took the music from the song and went with the freestyle. You can tell that the music has a very unique tone which is pentatonic.
The Weekend (The hills)– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dolsa6hu14
The Canadian artist born from Ethiopian mother and father grew up listening to the songs of Aster Aweke and Mulatu Astatke. His vocals kinda resembles that of the priest that you find when you go to Ethiopian churches. I really appreciate the fact that he plugged in the old school Ethiopian artist in his songs.
Kanaan as he is from a Somalian family, its only fair to assume that he grew up listening to Tilahun Gessese. Hence, that is why he sampled his music.
Bekele, Birhanu Teferra and Shiferaw. “Analysis of the formation and structure of the Ethiopian scale system .” Analysis of the formation and structure of the Ethiopian scale system (2009).
Frangou, Chris. “Common Ethiopian Pentatonic scales or Qignit.” Common Ethiopian Pentatonic scales or Qignit (2017).
Stanley sadie, george Grove. A Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Oxford University Press, 1879. English.
Hip hop, music genre developed in the 1970s by inner-city African Americans from the Bronx, New York city, consists of conscious lyrics which often bluntly address social, political, or economic issues. The nature of hip hop is explicit, authentic, and genuine, and now after decades of diffusion and cultural spreading, the art form perseveres to survive even in areas where censorship and limitation of expression run deep. On April 6th 2018, during the Panel Discussion: “Free Speech, Censorship and Protest” at the 13th Trinity International Hip Hop Festival, Howard University’s Dr. Msia Kibona Clark moderated a group of hip hop artists from all over the world who discussed the condition of media censorship of hip hop in the realm of social change and political discourse.
Dana Burton, a hip hop pioneer and influencer in China asserts that the supposed ban on hip hop in China was simply “fake news.” Burton went on to explain the reaches of Chinese censorship, exemplifying the Chinese ban on the ‘Free Tibet movement.’ In summary, anything that violates national integrity remains off limits in China. For example, videos which include the Tibet flag are banned and individuals are forbidden from using the word ‘Tibet’ in public or media settings.
Another panelist, MC Puos is a hip hop journalist who cofounded china’s first hip hop magazine, Bang. He discussed his upbringing in Detroit and referenced his understanding of words, communication, and censorship, and the unspoken rule of limited self-expression as a youth. A person could lose their life by saying the wrong thing to the wrong person: a realization that showcased the strength of words.
Panelist Emile YX?, a journalist, author, playwright, b-boy, and member of Black Noise, (one of the first hip hop groups in South Africa) discussed the current censorship is South Africa. As a solution to the suppression of black voices in South African Media, YX? proposed that black people create their own markets and industries. His project, Heal the Hood focusses on dismantling the Eurocentric monopolization of the capitalist society by supporting our own businesses. Overall the event was an enlightening intellectual experience.
Jovi’s street anthem Et P8 Koi (So What?) shows the use of Cameroonian language in hip-hop as means of depicting identity in a globalized music industry. Jovi is known to put out “multilingual bangers” with backing tracks from various musical disciplines. The creativity in production is mirrored by his dynamic lyricism that transcends cultural and musical boundaries. He raps in French and English – languages inherited from former colonists – to “bridge the gap that exists between anglophones and francophones” in Cameroon. Note that the French and English in the song don’t entirely mirror that of Europe, but rather include Cameroonian slang and dialects – known as Camfranglais, the mix of French and English native to Cameroon – which makes the music more representative of the Cameroonian identity. Continue reading “Surprise! Another blog bout Jovi”