Diamond Platnumz and Ne-Yo Find a Common Language in “Marry You”

Tanzanian rapper, Naseeb Abdul Juma, more commonly known by his stage name Diamond Platnumz, is perhaps the most commercially beloved hip hop artist in Tanzania today. His music always seems to reflect the Bongo Flava unique to the East African country, with Caribbean sway and Afro-pop beats. Continue reading “Diamond Platnumz and Ne-Yo Find a Common Language in “Marry You””

Vanessa Mdee Subverts Gender Norms Through Color in Her 2016 Hit, “Cash Madame”.

2016 was the year of Beyonce’s Lemonade, Rihanna’s ANTI, and the maturation of girl groups like Little Mix and Fifth Harmony. Black women dominated the charts, producing music and music videos that allowed them to express a range of emotions, from angry to heartbroken, while exuding a sense of power, confidence, and sex appeal. In the same year that black American female artists embraced these powerhouse roles, across the globe another black female artist took note.  Continue reading “Vanessa Mdee Subverts Gender Norms Through Color in Her 2016 Hit, “Cash Madame”.”

A Return to Tradition

Witnesz Kibonge Mwepec is a female rap artist from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Witnesz is considered the biggest female MC in East Africa, and this is a title that she worked hard to achieve. She is regarded as an artist with ingenuity, complexity, and an amazing sense of humor. In her videos, Witnesz typically adorns traditional East African clothing, and she raps/sings in Swahili.

Prior to translating the lyrics, I just watched the video and listened to the lyrics. I wanted to see if I could get an idea of what the song was about, solely based on the images shown in the video. I paid attention to the setting of the video, the colors used, the clothing they wore, and the overall vibe of the song. After watching the video three times, I had the idea that the song was about a return to tradition. I thought this included honoring elders, ancestors, and Tanzanian customs. In the video, Witnesz and the dancers are having a celebration, or a chama. Men play the drums, the group does traditional dances, food is being prepared, there are dance circles, and a boy comes to meet a girl. The colors in the video were vibrant, and highlighted the colors of their skin. In addition to this, all of the clothing was traditional. This made me think that the theme of this video was a return to Tanzanian traditions and customs. Continue reading “A Return to Tradition”

Diamond Platnumz and Mr Flavour Re-examine what Hip-Hop Looks Like in ‘Nana’

The opening credit reads, “Somewhere in Africa”, showing a well-groomed lawn, large home, or school presumably, and a classroom that could easily be transposed into American society. The clothing worn by the students is very heavily influenced by American culture, with large headphones, sports jackets, and elaborately jeweled outfits can be seen throughout. In fact, the first noticeably “African” element of the film is the accent heard from the first female speaker. There is a heavy emphasis on materialism in this video. From the gold watches and headphones, to the cars that Diamond Platnumz and Mont Flavour lean against in their solo shots, each character has a unique style that still manages to conform to a trans-Atlantic image of what hip-hop culture should embody. Continue reading “Diamond Platnumz and Mr Flavour Re-examine what Hip-Hop Looks Like in ‘Nana’”

Hip Hop as Social Commentary in Accra and Dar es Salaam

Hip Hop as Social Commentary in Accra and Dar es Salaam by Msia Kibona Clark

African Studies Quarterly | Volume 13, Issue 3 | Summer 2012

Abstract: This paper looks at the use of African hip hop as social commentary in Accra, Ghana and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Hip hop is by its definition a tool of self- expression and self-definition, and is often used as a tool of resistance. Young artists are using the platform of hip hop to speak out on a host of social and economic issues. A transcontinental conversation is now happening with artists all over Africa and the Diaspora. This paper focuses on the hip hop communities in Accra, Ghana and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Both nations have hip hop communities in which socially conscious hip hop is marginalized. In addition, the histories of these two nations are linked by their histories as battlegrounds in the struggle for Pan Africanism, non-alignment, and socialist ideals. These factors have influenced the use of hip hop for social commentary in both cities. This examination of hip hop in Accra and Dar es Salaam reveals important conversations occurring around politics and economics, on both a national and international level. Hip hop artists and the youth they represent are an important component of any social or political struggle towards progress. This research contributes to the need to engage with African hip hop culture and understand its growing implications for Africa.

 

Ambiguous Relationships: Youth, Popular Music and Politics in Contemporary Tanzania

The article Ambiguous Relationships: Youth, Popular Music and Politics in Contemporary Tanzania by Birgit Englert talks about Bongo Flava music in Tanzania. The article talks about how Bongo Flava has given the Tanzanian youth more visibility by giving them a voice. Young Tanzanians comprise a large percentage of the population. They migrate to cities seeking better life but are faced with high unemployment and poor living conditions. Bongo Flava musicians address these and other public concerns and also include political messages in their songs. The writer argues that Bongo Flava has a political impact not by encouraging the youth to take oppositional position but in the sense that it motivates young people from all levels of Tanzanian society to use their creativities in trying to make their living, thereby working as a source of a self-confidence and empowerment. The article can be accessed by clicking the following link.

http://www.univie.ac.at/ecco/stichproben/Nr14_Englert.pdf

Mimi Ni Msanii, Kioo Cha Jamii

The article ‘Mimi Ni Msanii, Kioo Cha Jamii’ Urban Youth Culture in Tanzania as Seen Through Bongo Fleva and Hip-hop  by Maria Suriano talks about how bongo flava is empowering the young generation by giving them a channel to voice out their grievances and concerns in a region where their place in society is ambiguous. The sentence ‘Mimi Ni Msanii, Kioo Cha Jamii’ is a line from the song Darubini Kali by Afande Sele and it means “I am an artist, a mirror of society”. Bongo Flava artists address issues in the society in their songs. The author argues that Bongo Flava has evolved to be a music genre of its own and should not just be regarded as Tanzanian hip-hop or rap. The author also talks about Bongo Flava styles and how it borrows from Western culture, social values the songs address and the music’s impact on media and politics. The article can be accessed by clicking the link below.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237426414_%27Mimi_ni_Msanii_Kioo_Cha_Jamii%27_Urban_Youth_Culture_in_Tanzania_as_Seen_Through_Bongo_Fleva_and_Hip_Hop

Immunization Strategies: Hip-hop and Critique in Tanzania

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.

https://lirias.kuleuven.be/bitstream/123456789/158738/1

Bongo Flava and Hip Hop

Tanzanian hip hop emerged in the late 80s, and by the late 90s was being labeled: Bongo Flava. As this new genre went in the direction of pop and incorporated rap and R&B there continued to be confusion between the two. By the early 2000s Bongo Flava began to eclipse hip hop in popularity, air play, and sales. As a result, several hip hop artists began distancing themselves from Bongo Flava.

The divisions within the music industry in Tanzania center not on a need to destroy popular music and culture, but on the perceived need to save hip hop and its culture. Out of this desire to “save” hip hop came the need to define its boundaries. which allowed artists to define their movement and have an identifiable goal, even if some of the specifics get lost in individual ambitions.

Continue reading “Bongo Flava and Hip Hop”