Once considered a territory traditionally dominated by men, today, women rap and sometimes do it better than their male competitors. It all started with MC Lyte in the 1980’s in the US, and now continues with Rwandan female hip hop artist Paccy and Joyce Namande, commonly known as Kitty. Hip hop artists worldwide have a bad reputation because some have criminal records. Even an innocent woman who joins the industry is regarded as bad character which makes it even more difficult for female artists to balance life and hip hop music. Also Female rappers have to perform better than men to make. But Paccy is determined to make unusual efforts to succeed because if she fails, they will say, women don’t have what it takes, and she will not let that happen.
Contrary to the popular opinion in the US that hip hop is dead, when it comes to hip hop in Africa, it represents a totally different sentiment. While corporations like Viacom created a rap culture which has no purpose and looks outside of itself for direction, if you look at any major African country like Senegal and Kenya, you will find the music as it once was in the USA. Due to its newness of the music form and growing accessibility of it, hip hop is now the voice of the new generation of Africans and youth have begun to adapt and use it as a vehicle to change the world around them.
This is an article from NigerianEntertainment.com in which they interview rapper and hip hop artist 2face Idibia, who was born Innocent Ujah Idibia in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. 2face states that he chose the rap name 2face, because the person people see on the outside and the person he is on the inside is two totally different people and he believes that all people have two faces. 2face had been singing for fun his entire life, but in 1997 he decided to make music his profession when he and fellow hip hop artist Blackface started a rap group called Plantasion Boyz. 2face talks about his long term goal in the interview which is to have international fame and to be remembered with the greats like Wyclef, Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, and Fela. 2face’s biggest single has been African Queen in which he describes his love for the African woman and also shows appreciation for their capacity to be loving and to care for their men and families. 2face ends the interview by saying he has his eyes set on the music scenes around the world, but he is a Nigerian artist and he will continue to represent that.
This is an article from GhanaMusic.com that talks about the album “Reggiestration” from the African hip hop artist Reggie Rockstone. Rockstone was born in Ghana but spent his early childhood in the United States. He returned to Ghana in the 1990’s and has been continuously living there developing the music style hiplife which infuses the African genre highlife with hip hop music. The album “Reggiestration” is a double album that includes remixes of some of Reggie Rockstone’s older songs as well as brand new tracks. There are many big artists featured on this album like 2face, Wyclef, Sena, D Black, and Trigmatic. The second track on the album is titled “Ah Jay” and has the essence of the African Highlife style, the chorus of the song is done in Twi. Songs from the album “Reggiestration” tell the history and roots of Africa as well as celebrate the high points of African culture and life. The album cover has a cocoa pod, which Rockstone said represents the harvest of all the hard work he has been doing.
In the article titled Hooligans and Heroes: Youth Identity and Hip-Hop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Alex Perullo explores the many ways that hip hop has affected the the lives of Tanzanian youth. Although many older Tanzanians regard hip hop with contempt and label its followers as “wahuni” (hooligans), there is no mistaking the fact that the music has gained an intense amount of popularity over the years. Hip hop music has been called the “voice of the youth” because it provides young people with a way to voice their opinions and concerns. In Tanzania, hip hop has been used as a means to educate people about important issues, “For Tanzanian youth, this means altering the popular conception of themselves as hooligans and allowing youth to become knowledge holders and educators within urban contexts”. There are many Tanzanian artists who have written songs addressing a wide variety of topics, and many of the lyrics are thought-provoking and clever. Perullo mentions the fact that strict censorship in the 70’s did not prevent hip hop artists to voice their disapproval of the government. Many bands found their way around bans and censorship by using double entendres and hidden meanings in the lyrics, a practice that “has a long history in Swahili poetry”. This challenges the common misconception that hip hop is vulgar and hateful. Many of the messages of these young Tanzanian artists represent the common struggle of the average person in Tanzania.
Perullo’s research focuses on many popular and influential artists such as Mr II and Professor Jay. He includes song lyrics in Swahili with an English translation on the side. One of the songs that he includes is one by Mr. II, titled “Hali Halisi” (“The Real Situation”). This song focuses on the political corruption in Tanzania, “Our lives are hard, even the president knows/And we still have our smiles in ever situation…everyday it’s us and the police”. This song was popular because it expressed the anger and frustration of the youth. Many of the bands that are played in the radio have clean lyrics and are politically and socially conscious. They educate the youth on important issues.
The article Immunization Strategies: Hip-hop and Critique in Tanzania by Koen Stroeken written in Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, talks about Tanzanian hip-hop music style called Bongo Flava, which when translated to English literally means “flavor of the brains”. Just like Hiplife in Ghana, Bongo Flava is another example of localization of hip-hop to conform to existing traditions and customs of a society. The author talks about the history of the emergence of Bongo Flava and the various factors that affected its growth, various Bongo Flava artists and their songs together with the social and political issues they address. This article can be found in Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol.75, No. 4 (2005), pp. 488-509 or can be accessed by clicking the link below.
The article Aesthetic of the Entrepreneur: Afro-Cosmopolitan Rap and Moral Circulation in Accra, Ghana written by Jesse Weaver Shipley on Anthropological Quarterly talks about Hiplife music in Accra, Ghana. Hiplife, according to Shipley, is a music genre in Ghana that “combines hip hop sampling, scratching and rap lyricism with older forms of highlife popular music, traditional storytelling (Anansesem), and formal proverbial oratory.” Hiplife, is one of the many examples of the hybridization of western hip hop with local culture to create a unique music genre. In this article, the author explores the lives and works of hiplife artists like Sidney and the Mobile Boys. He talks about the messages of Hiplife artists and how they portray public morality in their songs. This article can be found in the magazine Anthropological Quarterly, Volume 82, Number 3, Summer 2009, pp. 631-668 or can be accessed online by clicking the link below. One has to use CSULA NIS account to log in and read the article.
Born in Accra, Ghana to a Hungarian mother and Ghanaian father, Sena experienced a wide range of musical influences from a very young age. Her musical style is unique and appeals far beyond the typical reach of hip hop. Especially with her infusions of jazz, funk, traditional drums and all kinds of electronic sounds she appeals to the multiple layers of hip hop as well as its history. Singing, raping in multiple languages also shows her diversity and ability with songs like “Fists.” She draws attention to to the socially conscious and calls on all of us to open our eyes and awaken to the issues and struggles around us as well as the corruption of our leaders who claim false democracy in songs like “Politician.” She calls for unity in action against oppression and uses her ultra smooth jazz hip hop as well as her vocal and lyrical talents to do just that.
“New Morning” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gE7t_HhcKk&feature=related
From all over West and hailing Accra, Ghana Gibril, a.k.a. The Foreign Exchange Hustler’s mother is from Ghana and father is from Sierra Leone and has spent time throughout the West African coast, learning, traveling, performing in Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria to name a few and has also spent time in and around many European countries. He has taken the U.S. by storm, performing and staying in Chicago, New Jersey, New York and elsewhere to bridge the Atlantic from the West Coast of Africa to the East Coast of America. His multi-national and multi-cultural heritage and lifestyle are reflected in his latest album “Diplomatic Passport” and the song sharing the same title, “Passport.” He brings a hard-hitting style that comes from his exposure to Civil War and constant poverty stricken bloodshed from childhood on. From his myspace page you can listen to his song “All I Know” and get a taste of his life. His international acclaim took off when he collaborated with M1 from Dead Prez in the song “Streets of Africa” which is an amazing tune that shows not only the true nature of violence in Africa and the income gap between the few wealthy and the mass poor but also with the help of the prophetic and wise M1 from Dead Prez showing how this same expanding gap between the rich and poor breeds the constant violence in the streets of America.
“Streets of Africa” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSNT9HaYzi4&feature=related
“All I Know” on his myspace http://www.myspace.com/gibrildaafrican
Amidst the explosive nature of Nigerian hip hop many MCs and artists spanning across the board of have emerged though only some have made it to mainstream Nigerian audiences and even fewer have tasted international recognition. There will be more on the less flashy, less American stars such as Proto, Blaise, and The Faculty. For now Sound Sultan will provide a good look at an artist combining both elements of Nigerian hip hop’s flashy big sellers with a socially conscious attitude and songs that show it. His song Mathematics is a multiple fold power punch that shows what oppressive conditions add up to and what resistance when resistance will multiply up to calling for brotherhood, objectivity, democracy, modification, accountability and solidarity with a genius tie to the traditional BODMAS method for learning math. As for his ability to capture mainstream attention with a needed message, he teams up with Nigerian superstar M.i (Mr Incredible) in the song “2010” which could be one of the most impactfull songs to recently come out of Nigeria that really explains the nature of the country and people without with hardly any electricty, who are in M.i’s words choked with hunger and poverty.