HHAP Ep. 61: An African Hip Hop Palaver

In this palaver, we have a lively chat with Ghanaian hip hop/hiplife scholar Dr. Nii Kotei Nikoi. We talked about the hiplife and hip hop music industry in Ghana, especially one of the country’s most popular artist’s Sarkodie. Nii discusses the structure of Ghana’s music industry, the way artists construct their images, and the role of class (and language) in Ghana’s popular music scene. We also get into an interesting conversation around collaborations between African and Diaspora artists in Beyonce’s Black is King project and the depictions of Africa in the Black Panther film.

Nii Kotei Nikoi is an assistant professor of Global Media and Digital Studies at The College of Wooster in Ohio. He studies African popular culture, and has a special focus on how popular culture reinforces and challenges existing ideas around race, gender, and sexuality. His work is influenced by his background in graphic design and documentary photography. Currently, his research examines development discourse in Ghanaian popular culture.

Check out his latest article, “Hiplife Music in Ghana: Postcolonial Performances of the Good Life.” in the International Journal of Communication  14 (2020): 19.

He also hosts the podcast Our Culture. Season 1 of the podcast includes on several reflections on a range of topics.

EPISODE CONTENTS
1:50 The performance of material success in popular music in Ghana
8:08 The popular use of Ghanaian languages and clothing in the Ghanaian music scene
15:00 An analysis of the class divides and language choices in the beef between Sarkodie and M.anifest
26:20 The participation of women in hiplife
33:17 African scholars doing (hip hop) research at home
48:03 I try to get Nii to take the bait and engage in the discussion on Nigerians “borrowing” music from Ghana
52:52 Beyonce & the collaboration with African artists on the Black is King project
1:03:03 Black Panther & the homogenization of Africa, and the presence of Africa film industry in general

Blitz the Ambassador

Samuel Bazawule born April 19th 1982 in Ghana, known by the street name Blitz the Ambassador, is a Ghanaian hip-hop artist, filmmaker and visual artist

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HHAP Episode 36: Blitz the Ambassador on His Art, Purpose, & Representation

It’s been 15 years since Blitz the Ambassador released his first record, Soul Rebel. Since then he has gone on to produce 7 additional albums, start his own independent label (Embassy MVMT), produce 2 short films, and produced the feature film The Burial of Kojo, which was released on Netflix on the 31st of March, with Ava DuVernay and ARRAY.

This interview took place after he screened his film at the New African Film Festival this past March in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was great to sit down again with Blitz, 12 years after I first interviewed him for allAfrica.com in May 2007. Then, he was among the first generation of African MCs making their presence known on the underground scene in the US. In that interview we spoke about how Pan African his music was, and how lyrically, he blended elements of African and the Diaspora. His music has evolved into a showcase of African and Diaspora influences, including collaborations with artists from across Africa and the Diaspora.

In this interview we again spoke about the Pan African perspectives and sounds that continue to be present in his music. Blitz attributes much of his outlook to his upbringing, the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah’s ideologies, and his experiences in the Pan African Studies Department at Kent State University.

Blitz the Ambassador also talks about his experiences with the entertainment industry in the U.S., and how he has managed to maintain creative control over his music and film projects. In this sense, Blitz the Ambassador is vigilant about the integrity of his work, acknowledging the importance of representation, and of creating your own narratives.

The two songs featured in the episode, “Hello Africa” and “Internationally Known”, as well as all of Blitz the Ambassador’s music, can be purchased here: https://blitzambassador.bandcamp.com

Blitz on social media 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlitzAmbassador/
Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/blitzambassador/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlitzAmbassador

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