More Than Hip Hop: I Am…Young Kenyan, Intellectual, and Revolutionary

According to East African Hip Hop: Youth Culture and Globalization by Mwenda Ntarangwi, “young hip hop artists in the East African nations of Kenya…showcase the opportunities and challenges brought by the globalization of music.” Young hip hop artists in Kenya are less likely to be recognized on a global scale that other artists in the world because of the mixture of American and Jamaican rap styled with a touch of the artists native African language.  Ntarangwi claimed that East African hip hop culture was less commercialized because artists were more likely to honor tradition and their culture, which was less appealing to a larger audience. Ntarangwi further illustrated that East African hip hop was an outlet for social change. Some of the social change that East African hip hop artists were calling for a change in the “economic policies, African identity, and political establishments, as well as important issues of health, education, and poverty.” Ntarangwi explanation about East African hip hop artists that did not publicize because they wanted to uplift their people and make them more conscious of the oppression that was forced on them. The perfect example of a Kenyan hip hop artist was Judge most would associate his style with Megadeth, and Jay-Z, according to Reverbnation.

Judge currently from a rap group called Blackduo. He and the group are Kenyan born artists who tried to empower the urban youth in Kenya to resisted the massive in a peaceful demonstration. Judge was “was born in dandora raised in ziwani were people smoke a lot of weed to release the pressure” according to an interview Judge conducted with Hip Hop Kambi. According to Hip Hop Kambi, Judge created a project named Hip Hop 4 Peace. Judge mention that “HIPHOP4PEACE is a movement for every one not only hiphop artist because hiphop is a culture of peace love and unity and this is exactly what the world needs not only Kenya.” Also, the interview went on exploring Judges take in politics and society. Judge stated, “[‘politicking’ means] Man eat man society because of politic every one is bizzy hyping his tribal leaderz,” which was interpreted as politics influence people’s behavior. Also, the interviewer asked him “What is ‘mental slavery’? Do you have a “philosophy of education,” his replied was “ukoloni mamboleo under paid,” which mean neocolonialism undermining people skills and abilities by underpaying for their services. Judge was a very conscious person because a question was about the youth and the drug problem in Kenya and he stated, “drug is a problem in the whole world not only Kenya but, for example, the problem we do face is because of idling, joblessness, lack of education.” Nevertheless, he was asked about the violence in Kenya, and his responses were “I cant say who is promoting violence, but I can say what is promoting violence e.g., poverty, tribalism, hate spich’.” The one message that he was trying to spread to the youth in Kenya was open up your mind and resisted the oppression in a peaceful manner, which was clearly illustrated in a hip hop song he collaborated.

 

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Judge collaborated with a group named Washamba Wenza from Dandora, Kenya. The collaboration brought about a song called Shupav which means “…we all SOLDIERS of the same struggle and we all gotta go hard…” The song and video wanted to highlight that since they are artists and receiving some money for their talent do not mean that they are not still struggling with the rest of the poor people. They were calling for everyone in Kenya to participate in a peaceful revolution to get their voices heard on being an end to poverty. The message the song was displayed was that people in Kenya need to wake up and demand more from their politicians. Ntarangwi explained that Kenyan artists hip hop songs are for a political campaign to stop injustice and inhumane acts amongst their people.

 

To read more about Mwenda Ntarangwi book

(http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/88dqr6eq9780252034572.html)

To read more about Judge style of rap

(https://www.reverbnation.com/judgeblackduo)

To read more about the interview

(https://hiphopkambi.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/interview-judge-blackduo/)

To see more of the video description

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF8Jxl0v6xg)

AKA

Music transcends race, culture, religion, and identity and at its best rhythms, lyrics, and beats can transform the mind and soothe the soul. I believe music is a universal language that connects us all. If you don’t know me I love music and I’m always on the hunt for new artists whether I’m on Pandora, sound cloud, watching television, or listening to the radio I’m always looking for new artists to inspire me. However as eclectic as my musical taste is I’ve realized it’s still limited to my side of the diaspora. I haven’t even scratched the surface. I’m so thankful my professor had my class do this blog because I’ve been given the opportunity to explore the music of a different side of the diaspora. This assignment led me right to Cape Town’s own AKA.

Continue reading “AKA”

Prophets of Da City’s “Never Again”: A Celebration, Motivation & Proclamation

 

Prophets of Da City (P.O.C.), is one of South Africa’s most influential, politically charged rap and hip hop collectives.  “Their sound [which] has been described by http://www.westnet.com as ‘a devastating mix of old-skool meets new school rhythms and enough tongue-twisting rhymes to keep your head in a spin” also speaks major insight into the social predicament of Blacks worldwide, igniting fire and giving hope to all that listen.

Speaking from the viewpoint of the South African experience of struggle and overcoming, Prophets of Da City (P.O.C.) in the song, “Never Again,” outline the ill shape Blacks find themselves in due to colonialism, imperialism, and all other -isms emblematic of . The motif of the song, “never again” is a declaration that toleration of any form of oppression will not take place from the streets of Soweto to the alleys of Detroit.

(Music Video of the Song “Never Again” by P.O.C.)

This song is about unity on all corners of the globe. It is “dedicated to those who are down with the revolution and all over the world where people are snoozing,” whether they be in Australia or Brazil. The artists never once divorce themselves nor their messages from the centrality of the Black experience on a global scale. The “Black race always at a slap face” is in a continuous, cyclical state of overcoming and becoming. The artists never cease to to take their micro experiences and expand them to a macro level. In doing so, they establish relevance in making it known that a singular struggle is quite actually a collective struggle. (“those that support the struggle locally/ I support your struggle globally…”) Lines such as “Africa rejoice, raise your fist, raise your voice…” make it clear that Africa is not limited to the continent, yet is inclusive of all people of African descent as well as those that identify with the collective struggle of oppression.

With the slight and clever implementation of the voice of Nelson Mandela atop lyricism, a deliberate and intentional attempt is made to provide a semblance of hope for those that may have wavered in their faith of its existence; and most importantly, in order to capture the notion that the walk may long, yet a victory is always on the horizon. This jubilant, up- beat song holds implications for Africans everywhere to wake up, stand tall, and never [again]  back down from facing the struggle because triumph is never too far off.  (Oh, “what a feeling to see a smile on the black face…throw your fist in the air!”)

“Never Again” is simultaneously a celebration, a motivation for continued fighting against the system of global oppression and, most of all, a proclamation that the people of Africa, whether they be on the continent or on the furthest corners of the planet, shall not  and will not tolerate a position on this Earth where the status “FREE” is not an option.

 

References

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/prophets-of-da-city-mn0000363945/biography

M.anifest -“Someway Bi”

M.anifest is a Ghanian born rapper and songwriter who has worked with a variety of musicians. Music has been apart of M.anifest’s life and family for some time and naturally inspired him to become a poet and eventually an MC. In his song, “Someway Bi,” he discusses the twisted occurrences that happen in everyday life. The lyrics “e be someway bi,” in the chorus literally translate to “it’s twisted.” He provides many examples of how people in his country have to hustle in order to survive, whether they are male or female, child or adult.

Although M.anifest’s song seems to be about the harsh struggles and hustles of everyday life in his community, the chorus discusses contrasted occurrences. He doesn’t speak much about or provide examples of the contrasts that occur. Instead he focuses on the hustles that he and other have to make. The video shows the realities of modern Ghanian life, using children, women, and men.

Works Cited

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.anifest

“Gemini Project” brings you Runaway- Loose Kaynon feat Issac Geralds

 

 

Born in Nigeria, and raised on an air force base in Kaduna, Nigeria, Loose Kaynon has risen to the occasion in the world of hip hop. At the age of 15, on the air force base with his family in Kaduna, Loose Kaynon began rapping about the day to day struggles of his life. However, it wasn’t until he left Kaduna to attend Lagos State University, that he fully invested himself in his craft. Signed in 2012 to Chocolate City, previously called Loopy Music, has opened up the world of music to Loose Kaynon.

In his latest project ‘Gemini Project’, Loose Kaynon delivers us a variety of sounds including club bangers, and heartfelt messages. One of his most thought provoking songs ‘Runaway’ discusses the struggles of having anticipations for his dreams of “making it” at the age of 25, yet being grateful that he even made it to that age alive. He realized that he has more things to be grateful for in his life that he failed to acknowledge. As the successful founder of Wax Lyrical, the number one hip hop show in Nigeria, he has come full circle to understanding his true purpose in life; to make a statement. Unfortunately Wax Lyrical was discontinued in 2015 as a result of management complications.

With the heavy influence of American beats, his music is slowly working its way over to the States. It has been said that he had had many comparisons with Maybach Music Group founder, Rick Ross, but I think its just the beard.

Loose Kaynon has emerged as one of the hottest hip hop artists in Nigeria, as of recently. It is no surprise that due to his bachelors in Business & Finance that he understands how to stay on top of the business side of the music industry. In a recent interview with ‘Lyricists Lounge’ he stated that he was a rapper and artist first, everything else comes second. With this mindset, he is sure to have his eyes on the prize. Coming from the popular country of Nigeria, he remains hopeful that one day he will be able to give back to the very community that raised him to be the artist & man that he is today.

If you would like to  learn more about Loose Kaynon, and listen to the full project visit http://loosekaynon.com/.

Nigerian Trailblazer: Blaise

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Blaise, born Obafunke Martin Luther, is a Nigerian music artist with a distinct sound. She was born in Lagos but spent a portion of her childhood in the United Kingdom and Ibadan. Blaise later continued on to higher education, where she formally studied architecture. According to Blaise, she has always been a very “musical person”. She began her rap career as a member of one of Nigeria’s most infamous rap crews, Da Trybe. They gained a lot of popularity with their hit song, Oya. After the dissolve of Da Trybe, she became a solo artist and paired up with one of her ex-group member’s who produced her number 1 singles, “The Definition” and “Bragging Rights.” After this, she gained a lot of respect and popularity in Nigerian Hip Hop.

Blaise occupies a remarkable space within Nigeria’s music scene, with her elevated lyrical skill set. Often times, female rappers are only compared to other female rappers because let’s face it, society does not see them as worthy competitors of male rap artists. Blaise transcends the constructs of gender and there are numerous web forums where Blaise is being compared to top male lyricists in heated debates. She is arguably one of the best artist I have had the pleasure of listening to regardless of gender. Her space within Nigerian Hip Hop reminds me of Lauryn Hill’s space within American Hip Hop. Everyone knows that Lauryn’s fan base crossed gender lines, which is a rarity within the Hip Hop culture. Blaise is clearly blazing the path for female artists that want to be considered dope in comparison to not only women but to men as well. It is refreshing to see her infuse her native tongue and spirituality into her music. She does this so beautifully on the song, “Osika”, where she collaborated with Orlando Julius, one of the originators of Afro-beat.

It is always impressive to see an artist that is involved with many of the aspects of their music. Blaise not only writes and raps but she actually produces some of her own tracks. She is also active within the community and gives new artists an opportunity to come to the forefront. Blaise created an open-mic event, Baseline, which gives new artists a much needed platform.

Author: Marquisha Taylor

Sources:

Profile: All African Cypher Female Artists

http://www.jambase.com/Articles/15437/Orlando-Julius-Super-Afro-Soul

Profile: All African Cypher Female Artists

Black Bird: The Queen of Zimbabwean Hip Hop

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                 Black Bird is a hard-hitting female emcee hailing from Zimbabwe. She is credited as being the first female rapper in Zimbabwean history to release a full album. She is aware of her position and influence within Zimbabwe’s male-dominated Hip Hop community. Black Bird is currently mentoring the younger generation of girls, in hopes that they will follow her lead and take the male-dominated rap community by storm in the same manner that she has.

                  As a child, Black Bird listened to some of Hip Hop’s illest female rappers, so there is no wonder her flow and lyrical prowess is exceptional. At a young age, she was drawn to female Hip Hop heavyweights like MC Lyte, Left Eye, Da Brat, and Queen Latifah. Although these females had an influence on her style, she has developed her own unique sound and approach to rap. Her songs allow you to connect with her on more than a superficial level and she is not afraid to be vulnerable within her music. Black Bird takes you on a journey from the start to finish of her songs by way of her outstanding storytelling abilities. When you check out her work/videos you will immediately notice her flow, confidence, creativity, and of course her beautiful ombre locs. She is the true embodiment of a female lyricist and an artist. Her videos often coincide with the story in which she is telling. She has been referred to by many lovers of Hip Hop as the Queen of African Hip Hop. She has solidified her spot as the Queen of Zimbabwean Hip Hop but she is still pushing to solidify her position as the undisputed Queen of African Hip Hop. Black Bird has released five of her own solo projects and has been featured on over 20 mixtapes. Black Bird has received a lot of backlash for opting not to use her native tongue. Unbeknownst to her language critics, her ultimate goal is to bring an international awareness to Zimbabwe and its Hip Hop scene through her English lyrics.

 

Author: Marquisha Taylor

Resources:

https://iamblackbird.wordpress.com/

http://www.thezimbabwean.co/entertainment/music/54333/the-future-of-hip-hop.html

Edem f. Sway “The One”

The video “The One” by Ghanaian hip hop artist Edem, featuring Sway tells an alternate story of the Gold Coast’s (now Ghana) interactions with Europeans. The video’s story begins in the Gold Coast in 1482 and shows European exploration of the region. The video shows powerful images of European exploration of Africa and the attempted enslavement of Africans.

Showing quotes such as: “The man in chains will break free from his captives & overcome his struggle” and “…this will never be repeated”, the video is a visual revolt against slavery. The video appears to be shot in one of the castles along the southern coast of Ghana. In the video the Africans break their chains and take back their freedom.

In one especially important scene, the video shows a man who is king looking out onto the ocean at the ships of Europeans in the distance. We next see him as a captive, captured and enslaved by Europeans. Instead of giving up and accepting his enslavement, the man stands up to his captors. Handcuffed, he stands up and attacks a European to save a fellow enslaved African from being killed. Even though the Europeans have stripped him of his crown, the former king leads a revolt and escape, in which others who have been captured take their freedom.

The video fits with the song in an interesting way. It’s a show of African men, refusing to submit and taking their freedom and maintaining their dignity in the face of European power. Given the historic impact of slavery on what is today Ghana, the use of this story in the video of two Ghanaian artists shows the importance of this history to Ghana today. It also shows that while Europeans invaded the people in the region, the dignity of the people remained, allowing Edem and Sway to stand and represent for those who stood tall in the face of European oppression.

One of the most important points of the video is that the Africans do not give up and they do not beg for freedom. As an African and an activist this is an important lesson for African youth, especially today. We are no longer enslaved or colonized, but we are still being oppressed. In the media, and even in other videos by African artists, artists try to be as European as possible and not to love their culture and what they have. It is good to see African artists representing our culture so strong.

Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati

This book examines social change in Africa through the lens of hip hop music and culture. Artists engage their African communities in a variety of ways that confront established social structures, using coded language and symbols to inform, question, and challenge. Through lyrical expression, dance, and graffiti, hip hop is used to challenge social inequality and to push for social change. The study looks across Africa and explores how hip hop is being used in different places, spaces, and moments to foster change. In this edited work, authors from a wide range of fields, including history, sociology, African and African American studies, and political science explore the transformative impact that hip hop has had on African youth, who have in turn emerged to push for social change on the continent. The powerful moment in which those that want change decide to consciously and collectively take a stand is rooted in an awareness that has much to do with time. Therefore, the book centers on African hip hop around the context of “it’s time” for change, Ni Wakati.

The book features essay by hip hop artists and activists like Amkoullel L’enfant Peulh (Mali), Kama from Kalamashaka (Kenya), Malle Marxist (Tanzania), Mejah Mbuya (Tanzania), and Slim Emcee (Uganda). The book also features a chapter co-authored by South African hip hop pioneer Shaheen Ariefdien. The book also has chapters that cover Kenya, Madagascar, North Africa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Tanzania.

The book is available on Amazon

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