HHAP Ep 73: A Discussion on Race and Identity in South African Hip Hop

In part 2 of our conversation with Dr. Sipho Sithole, he discusses the regional differences in South African hip hop. He talks about the hip hop scenes in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. He also discusses the linguistic differences in South African hip hop and the role ethnic identity plays in the styles and languages artists utilize. He also looks at the evolution of pop music in South Africa, from kwaito, to gqom, to amapiano.

Sipho also discusses the dynamics within Coloured communities in South Africa, and the relationships between Black and Coloured South Africans. He provides history of the origins of Coloured South Africans among the Khoi & San (first nation) communities, and their forming close-knit communities. The hip hop that came out of those communities, largely based in Cape Town, addressed the social ills happening in the Coloured townships. In looking at the divisions between Black and Coloured South Africans, we compare it to the relationships between African Americans and African immigrants in the U.S.

There are not many discussions around Black & Coloured relations in South African hip hop, so it was important to get a perspective on the history of those relationships.

Intro song: “Yesterday” with Zakwe, Zuluboy, & Zola

Dr. Sipho Sithole (@DrSiphoSithole) is a Research Fellow at the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (University of Johannesburg) and holds a PhD in Anthropology, a B.Sc in Political Science and International Relations, and an M. Sc in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. Dr. Sithole’s research revolves around language identity, culture, migration, and integration. Sithole has a long career in hip hop & is the founder and owner of an important and multi-award-winning music production house, Native Rhythms Productions, & Native Rhythms Records.

shane eagle: an artist of promise

Shane Eagle, a 24-year-old South African rapper, has only been in the rap game for 6 years, but in those

HHAP Episode 20: Nazlee Saif on Hip Hop, Sexuality, Race, & Protest in Cape Town

Our conversation with Cape Town based hip hop and spoken word artist Nazlee Saif centers on discussions of race, gender, religion, sexuality, and activism. This conversation centers on the use of hip hop as a cultural space within which to engage several different social issues, and to deconstruct social taboos that continue to exist within hip hop culture.

Nazlee Saif is a spoken word and hip hop artist originally from Durban, who moved to Cape Town and attended the University of Cape Town (UCT) during the height of the #RhodesMustFall movement. Nazlee, who was already a socially conscious artist, was an activist and organizer in the movement on the UCT campus. Nazlee, as a queer identified, Muslim, MC, also brings those intersecting identities into the hip hop, a culture that has historically been very patriarchal, very misogynistic, and hostile to queer voices.

In the conversation Nazlee Saif talks about several topic, including the #RhodesMustFall movement at UCT, intersectionality, being Black & Coloured, queer identities, being a Muslim & queer MC, Steve Biko and Black consciousness, the term “Hoteps”, and feminism.

Nazlee Saif’s presence in hip hop challenges hip hop’s masculine, heteronormative culture. Nazlee Saif expresses strong stances on topics of race, sexuality, and religion. The artist’s discussion of a level of frustration with Black Consciousness, as well as the term “Hoteps”, may put Nazlee Saif at odds with some Pan Africanists.

Nazlee on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwNoj0WTO0fAoKG0fagDFxQ

Nazlee on Twitter: @NazleeArbee

Readings

Clark, Msia Kibona. 2014. “Gendered Representations among Tanzanian Female Emcees”. In Ni Wakati: Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa, edited by Msia Kibona Clark and Mickie Koster. Lanham, MD: Lexington Press.

Haupt, Adam. 2016. Queering Hip-Hop, Queering the City: Dope Saint Jude’s Transformative Politics. M/C Journal, 19(4).

Smith, Marquita R., 2014. “Or a Real, Real Bad Lesbian”: Nicki Minaj and the Acknowledgement of Queer Desire in Hip-Hop Culture. Popular Music and Society, 37(3), pp.360-370.