NGRTD

Known by his stage name “Youssoupha”, Youssoupha Mabiki embodies the defining characteristics of progressive French rappers in his song Entourage. A captivating story of immigration, education, and social consciousness defines Youssoupha’s rise to prominence in a crowded French rap scene.

Youssoupha was born in Zaire (today the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1979 as the son of a Congolese musician and Senegalese mother. Similar to many adolescents in the francophone world, the family decided a western education was in order and sent Youssoupha to live with relatives along France’s Mediterranean coast. Youssoupha dedicated himself to his studies through graduate school, when he decided to dedicate his life to music. Continue reading “NGRTD”

My Motherland Is Not A Jungle: Africa Through Say’hu’s Eyes

I decided to choose an artist whose name I did not hear much in the class. The title of Say’hu’s song, “Motherland” drew my attention because everybody has their own opinion as to what their motherland is or what the term means to them. To me, my motherland is where myself and my family originate from, Africa. Although I have never been there and the two generations before me were born here on American soil I still have this strong connection to Africa. America is not my native land, otherwise I’d be Native American. For Say’hu, Africa is also his motherland being that he was born there, lives there and is of African descent. He describes Africa as “land of the great pharaohs where the sun never leaves”. Say’hu sees Africa as a land of radiance and beauty, a place where royalty are from and people from all across come to capture his vision. However, Say’hu also mentions how certain immigrants to the land are ignorant to this view of Africa and think of it as a jungle whenever they hear her name.

Say’hu represents both his country and the diaspora because although there are people like him who are born and raised in Africa and recognize it as their motherland, you have the black diaspora, which includes myself, whom also consider Africa to be their motherland. Although many of us have never set foot on African soil, many of us do acknowledge that Africa is our country of origin, before migration and of course slavery changed all of that for the most part. Say’hu talks about how Africa needs a savior, as well. His people are dying and the leader’s priority is money, an idea that many of the black diaspora here in America can relate to. African Americans are dying at a rate much higher than other races but our government and our system is designed to ensure this happens and to profit off of it.

Overall I believe Say’hu gave an accurate respresentation of both Africa and of the diaspora by incorporating personal experience, quotations and by describing the two sides of Africa and also the different views people have of the motherland.

 

Different Country, Same Attitude

There’s two types of people in this world: those who conform to the rules set by society and those who rebel against it. In their collaborative hp hop song “Gentleman”, rappers M.anifest and Wanlov the Kubolor come together to tell you that they’re the ladder and not ashamed of where they’ve come from. For today’s blog, we will look at the African diaspora and how this common African experience has translated over to the music of these two artists. Just to give you a bit of a background on each, M.anifest is a Ghanian rapper who is known to many as the king of Ghana hip hop. He migrated to Saint Paul, Minnesota back in 2001 to attend college. He even resides in Minnesota as well as Ghana currently. 

Wanlov the Kubolor is a Ghanaian-Romanian musician who moved to the US for college back in 2000. Both of these artist are very proud of their Ghanian roots and let their experiences as immigrants influence their sound.

Wanlov

In their collaborative song Gentleman, both rappers immediately start the song off saying the chorus immediately saying “I won’t be gentleman at all, I’ll be African man original. I wont be gentleman, won’t be gentleman at all”. They immediately set the tone for the song with their straight forward acclamation to stick to their roots despite living in a country that has a different culture. Within the song they mention a number of aspects that are associated with the men of western culture and then rejects them with their own versions that they’ve grown to live with in Ghana. Both M.anifest and Wanlov the Kubolor have experienced first hand what it feels like to migrate to not just a different country but an entirely different continent like many Africans for the sake of their futures. the African immigrant population between the year 2000 and 2010 increased from 800,000 to 1.6 million and of those people these artist were part of that. There’s such a big population of African Immigrants that can relate to this song and are able to not feel alone in their fight to not keep who they are while surrounded by Americans. Gentleman is a great song that compares the two cultures and also speaks to what they mean to the Ghanian rappers. It’s fun, it’s unique, and it will always be African.

M.anifest’s “Coming to America” and the Diaspora

M.anifest’s song “Coming to America” tells us a lot about the African Diaspora. The song mentions many things that Africans struggle with and it also mentions some of the things that African immigrants in America face. The reading “Payback is a Motherland” says that many African immigrants see hip hop as a way to connect with their home countries. In this class we have studied many African artists who are now in America and use their music to connect with home. M.anifest mentions things about the immigrant experience like missing home and family, trying to find a good job, and sending money home to support his family. He also mentions having to do things like constantly put money on phone cards so he can call home. He also mentioned the pressure from family and parents to get a degree and be successful. From other songs , we learned that the immigrant experience can be lonely and depressing at times. In “Payback is a Motherland”, M.anifest states that he did not know that there was a such thing as African rap at first. Once he discovered this, he began to incorporate his mother tongue into his music more often. This connected him to his home country and it also makes his music more relatable and likable amongst Ghanaians. His song makes many immigrants able to relate to him because it tells a true story and gives a realistic perspective of what immigrants go through. Many immigrants have a hard time adjusting to a new country and a new culture but songs like “Coming to America” let them know that they are not alone and that their experience is shared by others. The songs is very enlightening and inspiring. It makes people more aware of what people who are not native to a country go through and also how hard they work to get what they have.

Put On For My City: How Lyricist K’naan Represents the Diaspora Through His Music

Somalian-born lyricist K’naan can never forget where he came from and he makes it known that he came from the struggle through his music. When he speaks about his country, you can see pride in his face, despite all the havoc and killing that’s going on, he makes it known that he is not ashamed. In his smash song, Wavin Flag, K’naan speaks about the struggles the people in Africa face on the daily and being that K’naan and his family are Somalian refugees, he grew up in Somalia during the civil war. The song starts off with K’naan saying that when he gets older he wants to be free, that’s why he waves his flag back and forth just like any other normal flag. The flag symbolizes freedom and many African nations struggle with their independence and freedom, so by K’naan mentioning that he waves his flag he wants to help liberate his country along with others from poverty and wars. K’naan also talks about how his country, Somalia, was once a rich and successful country before it became the war zone it’s known to be today when he says “Born to a throne, stronger than Rome.” but he respects it for what it has become and still calls it home. Unlike many people who often flee their country because of grief, K’naan is proud that he made it out alive because not many people have many success stories coming from Somalia. When it comes to speaking about the Diaspora through his music, K’naan is quick to educate the unknown about the good, the bad and the ugly and suggest that no one should forget about Somalia because it once was a well known place once upon a time. And although the song has grown to the likes of being used in a Coca Cola commercial, it just goes to show that the song itself has stability to be whatever it wants to be.

The Diaspora as depicted in Wanlov the Kubolor’s “Smallest Time”

Emmanuel Owusu-Bonsu, also known as Wanlov the Kubolor, was born into a Ghanaian-Romanian family in Ghana. After years of living in Ghana, he moved to the United States to study Computer Science and Business Administration at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor. Two years later, in 2002, he dropped out in order to become fully immersed in his music career.

From his move from his hometown in Ghana to an entirely new continent and country, the United States, it can be gathered that this move was not an easy one. Knowing Wanlov’s background, the lyrics in his song “Smallest Time” are probably telling the story of his journey to a new place where he believed he would be afforded more opportunity, but instead it is the complete opposite.

The song begins: “Seems like just yesterday, left home so far away/ Memories remind us that destiny would find us…/ Africa I miss you…”. Already with the intro and into the hook, the listener is being exposed to a story of diaspora through Wanlov as he expresses how much he misses his home in Africa.

The next verse chronicles the obstacles that he faced as an immigrant in a new country which many people of diasporas face. Wanlov says: “US border, visa requiired/ College degree, unexpired/ No school fees, visa expired/ Funds wired, money perspired/ Now broke, day job desired/ You are hired, then I got fired/ Got married, green card acquired/ But now I am tired, so I retired”.

Following that verse lie more portrayal of Wanlov’s struggle to adjust to the loneliness that moving to a new country brings. He depicts this despair by saying: “I never know say there hard/ Sometimes I got so lonely, wanted to see my family/ Spent money on phone calls/ Voices helped me cross those pitfalls…/ I don’t know if I can make it through another day”.

Through learning a bit about Wanlov’s early life and decision to travel to the United States alone, “Smallest Time” begins to speak volumes for other people in the diaspora as well. Many immigrants experience the sense of loneliness and unhappiness on the journey of searching for the “better life” in a new country. “Smallest Time” was Wanlov the Kubolor’s way of being transparent with his audience about his journey to the United States and what strifes he encountered living here.