HHAP Ep 72: A Conversation on South African Popular Music with Sipho Sithole, p. 1

Dr. Sipho Sithole is a Research Fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (University of Johannesburg) and holds a PhD in Anthropology, a B.Sc in Political Science and International Relations, and an M. Sc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. Dr. Sithole’s research revolves around language identity, culture, migration, and integration. Sithole has a long career in hip hop & is the founder and owner of an important and multi-award-winning music production house, Native Rhythms Productions, & Native Rhythms Records.

Sithole has is credited for helping mainstream hip-hop in South Africa when he signed Skwatta Kamp in 2003, the first group to achieve platinum sales. He held what he says is the 1st African hip hop summit in 2005 He is also a producer, winning awards for his production work on Thandiswa Mazwai’s debut album, Zabalaza (2004).

In this interview, he talks about his involvement in the growing hip hop scene in South Africa in the early 2000s. It was a time when kwaito’s mainstream popularity was declining, and Sipho Sithole talks about the decision to begin working with hip hop artists. He also talks about the role of the township in producing and shaping the South African hip hop scene, as well as social consciousness.

In part 2 of this interview, we delve into a discussion of race and identity in South African hip hop, and the spaces within hip hop that Black and Coloured South Africans occupy.

HHAP EP 71: Multiple Diaspora Cultural Experiences Influencing the Creativity of Sampa the Great

Born in Zambia, Sampa the Great lived in the United States, Australia, and Botswana. With multiple African and Diaspora experiences, her music and style are very Pan African. Her work is Pan African in a very organic way. It does not claim to be conscious or preach about Pan Africanism, it just is. Because of this, as a listener, there is joy in listening to music that speaks to our multicultural Black identities. In this interview, she talks about existing as a Black person in different cultural spaces and her interactions across the continent and in the Diaspora.

Sampa the Great also talks about her experiences with racism and self-identification while studying in the US in the early 2010s, and later after she moved to Australia. She also talks about the differences between racism in the US and racism in Australia. She delves into the differences in the social unity of Black people in the US and in Australia, where in the US there is a division between Black immigrants and multi-generation-US-born Blacks and in Australia there is an understanding of the importance of Black unity in the face of living in societies that are held up by institutional racism.

As an artist, Sampa the Great released her first mixtape in 2015 while living in Australia. Several singles, EPs, and mixtapes later, she released her debut solo album, The Return, in 2019. The album peaked at No. 12 on the Australian music charts. She went on to win Best Hip Hop Release at the 2019 and 2020 ARIA Music Awards, Australia’s top music award. In 2020, she also won the ARIA award for Best Female Artist and Best Independent Release.

Sampa the Great has been very outspoken about racism in Australia through her music and performances. She has also been outspoken about the role of women in hip hop and the importance of representation as an African artist on an international stage.

Sampa the Great in Instagram and Twitter as @Sampa_The_Great

This episode is the last of the special series that we did in partnership with Words Beats & Life. The series was recorded and live-streamed with students in the Hip Hop in Africa class at Howard University and George Washington University.

HHAP Ep 70: Xidus Pain on the UK rap scene and being a hip hop educator

Xidus Pain is a Zimbabwean artist who grew up in the UK. He’s based in London MC who has been involved and influenced by the UK hip hop scene since he was a young kid. He currently works in schools, universities, communities centers, and prisons as a hip-hop educator. He’s been doing this for over ten years. As an artist, he has worked with musicians from around the world from members of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to Rap Legend Special Ed. 

Xidus Pain is also a Director at Beat This, a community-based organization that works with young people in London, and a manager with Generation HipHop UK, a global empowerment and development program. He connected with The Hip Hop Africa via Hip Hop Loves, a hip-hop NGO that works with hip-hop artists and activists globally.

In this episode, we have a great conversation with Xidus Pain about the history and growth of hip hop in England. He talks about the development of the various hip hop elements in the UK, as well as the drill and grime music scene. Grime is a genre created by Black artists in England that comes out of UK hip hop culture.

Xidus Pain also talks about the influence of religion on his music and his decision to not use profanity in his lyrics, his lyric writing process, and what influences him. He also talks about the impact of Brexit on the hip hop scene in the UK.

Xidus Pain is on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/xidus_pain/ and Twitter: https://twitter.com/xiduspain

This episode is part of the special series that we did in partnership with Words Beats & Life. The series was recorded and live-streamed with students in the Hip Hop in Africa class at Howard University and George Washington University.

HHAP EP. 69: Industry Vet Buddha Blaze on the nature of the music industry in Kenya and Beyond

Buddha Blaze is a Kenyan blogger, podcaster, and music industry insider with over 20 years of experience. He has worked throughout the continent and the diaspora with artists and producers from around the world. He was a major part of the British Council’s WaPi (Words & Pictures) initiative, which showcased hip hop, poetry, fashion breakdance, and graffiti culture in Nairobi. He has also consulted numerous artists in the business and worked on several projects with international artists and producers.

A major figure in the Kenyan hip hop scene, he was recently seen on the Nairobi-based What’s Good Africa?, the only show on P. Diddy’s RevoltTV to focus on hip hop culture in Africa and one of the only shows airing on a US network to focus on hip hop culture in Africa.

In this conversation, Buddha Blaze talks a lot about the changes he’s seen in the industry over the years and some of the skills artists need to navigate the industry today. He also talks about his involvement in the growth of the cultural scene in Nairobi, which has grown to become the largest music, film, and contemporary art scene in East Africa.

Buddha Blaze is Twitter @ItsBuddhaBlaze and Instagram @buddhablazeworld

Intro and outro beat by Nigerian producer @teckzilla108

This episode is part of the special series that we did in partnership with Words Beats & Life. The series was recorded and live streamed with students in the Hip Hop in Africa class at Howard University and George Washington University.

HHAP Ep. 68: Edem, On Navigating the Music Industry in Ghana

In this episode, Ghanaian hip hop & hiplife artist Edem talks about the music industry in Ghana and the popularity of Afrobeats. Edem also talks about the presence of Ghanaian and Nigerian artists in shaping Black popular music globally, especially in the US and the UK. He also talks about how Ghanians have always done music according to their own rules, creating genres and trends like highlife, hiplife, and azonto; and innovating hip hop and Afrobeats.

We also talk about being Ewe and why language and identity are important in his work. Coming from Ghana’s Volta region, he’s one of the first hip hop artist to begin rapping in Ewe.

Edem’s music is a mix of hip hop, hiplife, and dancehall. He released his 1st album, Volta Regime in 2009, followed by 2 more albums and the recent EP Mood Swings released last year. Throughout his career he’s collaborated with several international artists, and has won and/or been been nominated for several music awards, including the Black Canadian Awards, the Ghana Music Awards, and the 4syte (for-sight) TV Music Video Awards.

Edem is on Twitter at @iamedem https://twitter.com/iamedem and Instagram at @iamedemgh https://www.instagram.com/iamedemgh and YouTube at @iamEdem https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXwdOmMKtY9-NXjDq-yqxYg

This episode is part of the special series that we did in partnership with Words Beats & Life. The series was recorded and live streamed with students in the Hip Hop in Africa class at Howard University and George Washington University.

Contemporary African Female Artists in the Diaspora

As the prominence of African hip-hop artists has spread throughout the continent, so have we seen the emergence of influential artists in the diaspora. Particularly

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