This mixtape shines a well deserved light on five African hip hop artists who are challenging the heteronormative culture prevalent in much of Africa through
A woman stepping into the male-dominated field of hip-hop is revolutionary in itself. Hip-hop was created by men like DJ Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa,
Since the arrival of hip hop on the continent, South Africa has birthed and housed some of the most notable African hip hop artists. As
Kanyi Mavi is a Cape Town-based lyricist who is well respected for her creative use of Xhosa to create powerful hip-hop verses. She sometimes raps and vocalizes over Xhosa instrumentals, introducing hip hop to Xhosa culture in a way the really raises the bar. Her music also speaks to important social issues like sexual harassment, domestic violence, and drug abuse. She released her first album, Iintombi-Zifikile, in 2012, and in 2020 she released both an EP, Khon’ba, and a full album, Igubu Lam.
In this interview, she talks to the students about her music and the importance of bringing her culture into hip hop. She also talks about the use of Xhosa in the film Black Panther! She also talks about hip hop culture in South Africa, and the linguistic diversity in the various hip hop scenes across South Africa, as well as the impact of the industry on artistic creativity.
As one of the most well-known Xhosa rappers in South Africa, she takes the messages in her music very seriously. She talks about her views on campaigns around violence against women, in which she speaks to women and offers some very real ideas on keeping women safe, and alive. We also re-visit a discussion on feminism that we had during our first interview. She expresses her criticism of these movements and discusses the role men play in the fight for gender equality.
Kanyi Mavi also addresses national and global politics, and how in her music, her goal is to voice what is going on in the community, with her people. She also looks at the history of South Africa since the end of apartheid and reflects on South Africa’s relationship with the rest of Africa.
Connect with Kanyi Mavi’s work at kanyimavi.co.za. Kanyi Mavi is on Twitter and Instagram as @Kanyi_Mavi.
Nyota Parker is a 20-year-old hip hop rapper, singer, composer and artist transcend-ing the South African hip hop scene. Parker’s upbringing in Dublin and Capetown
Dope Saint Jude is a South African hip hop artist who was born and raised Cape Town. A former Political Science student at the University of Cape Town, she started her hip hop career in 2011 as a drag king. Her drag king persona was Saint Dude, and resembled rapper Lil Wayne. After releasing several singles, Dope Saint Jude’s first EP, Reimagine, was released in 2016, Her second project, Resilient, was released in 2018. It included the song “Grrrl Like”, which opens this episode and has been one of her biggest hits. The song was also featured in the teaser for the Netflix original series Blood & Water https://youtu.be/OV9Ma4F_xyA. Dope Saint Jude has also performed at Afropunk, been featured in Vogue & Marie Claire, and been part of major advertising campaigns.
In this conversation we discuss the social relevance of her music. Well versed in the politics of intersectionality, Dope Saint Jude is very intentional in what she does. In her music she weaves intersecting identities into lyrics that challenge listeners to reconsider their ideas about who they think Black, Coloured, queer South African hip hop women should be.
You can find Dope Saint Jude’s music on streaming platforms. She is also online at dopesaintjude.com, twitter.com/DopeSaintJude, instagram.com/dopesaintjude, and youtube.com/channel/UCdGiyFXiSgtTCXu1AGUeK3A.
For more scholarship on Dope Saint Jude’s work:
Chapters 24 “Queering Hip Hop, queering the city: Dope Saint Jude’s transformative politics” by Adam Haupt and 29 “Building an international profile as an artist” by Dope Saint Jude, Blaq Pearl, Black Athena, Jean-Pierre, Lyrical Deezy with Emile YX? in Haupt, Adam, Williams, Quentin, Alim, Samy H., Jansen, Emile. (2019).
Clark, Msia Kibona. (2018). Feminisms in African hip hop. Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, 17 (2), 383-400.