Nigerian, South African/Kenyan connection. The battle of the “Koolest”

Today on The Hip-Hop African Blog we analyze the comparison between Nigerian rapper Davido’s song “Coolest kid in Africa” featuring, awesome, South African rapper Nasty C and Kenyan pop singer/rapper Stella Mwangi’s song “Koolio.” Both songs are exciting and begin with catchy beats, however, where Davido’s “Coolest kid in Africa” starts low and slow, with heavy bass and a sick trap beat drop, Stella’s “Koolio” picks up the pace with a faster electro-hop beat that is reminiscent of Pitbull’s I” I Know You Want Me.”

In Davido’s song “ Coolest kid in Africa” he describes that the reasons that he is the coolest are that he is both rich and connected, has enough money to change your life, if you let him, and because of the amount of women who choose to accompany him wherever he goes. Whereas, Stella in “Koolio” describes her “Koolness” as a product of her awesome life, which you should already know about, because of her gangsta style, though she does profess to not be a gangsta. Additionally, she suggests that you should not try to hinder her style or movements, because she keeps her Kool cooler that Coolio, which is not only a metaphor for being the pinnacle of coolness, but also a reference to famous 90’s Hip Hop Artist Coolio, who was known for not only his Coolness but his gangsta lifestyle, point of reference “Gangsta’s Paradise.”

The biggest comparison between the two can be found in Nasty C’s verse on the “Coolest kid in Africa” which connects the party vibe of knowing how cool he is, much like how Stella professes her coolness as a fact before the song, to the concept of finding out how cool he is like Davido suggests throughout the song. Two braggadocio songs professing to how cool the other is based on previous memory of their exploits.

Davido – Coolest Kid in Africa (Official Video) ft. Nasty C

STELLA MWANGI – KOOLIO (Official Video)

You Bad Huh?

 

A femcee is a female rapper. She is no different than anyone else, except she is a woman brave enough to step up to the mic in such a male dominated industry. Hip hop is hyper masculine and feeds on the over sexualization of the Black woman. In hip hop, women are seen as sexual objects or mere accessories to the tough emcees for braggadocious purposes. Having to deal with the negative societal characterization of Black women and then to turn to the art form especially for Black expression where the negative objectification of your being is done by your so called “brother” in the struggle can be a hard path to navigate. But Femcees like Nadia Rose and Stella Mwangi are reclaiming their sexual power and using hip hop as their medium of expression and redefining the role of Black woman in hip hop.

Nadia Rose is a London born, Ghanaian descent femcee. Her video “Skwod” is filled with bright colors, and an all female dance crew that are bopping down London streets. Mixed with a funky beat and lyrics that focus on how Nadia Rose is the best rapper and she’s the realest. She preaches sisterhood by being the protector of her “skwod.”

Stella Mwangi is a Kenyan femcee. Here video “Bad As I Wanna Be” is filled with her being just that, Bad! (but in a good sense!) Kenya and East Africa as a whole is a very conservative area where the norms for women are very strict, and Mwangi challenges this as she dons shorts in the video and uses profanity.

Both femcees are wearing very casual, American type clothing that is feminine but not making their bodies the object. They both employ the use of a creative background scenery to add to the overall image of their song. Mwangi uses the back drop of the “hood” in Kenya and Rose takes us on a stroll around the block in London. Both artists  are confident in who they are. They know who they are, are going to continue being who they are, and don’t care if anyone doesn’t like it.

A Lady, a Miss, a Feminine Touch to Hip Hop

If I were to tell you “there are women in hip hop” you wouldn’t hesitate to tell me that you already knew that. For years, women have been making names for themselves in the male dominated field of hip hop through their lyrics, looks, presence, and persistence. Today we’re looking at some femcees (female emcees) that are taking the genre and making it their home. Lady Leshurr is a hip hop artist from the UK who has been  coming out with mix tapes since 2009 and is most known for her Queen’s Speech rap videos.

lady

Her lyrics are clever, silly, and most of all memorable. In her 2016 song/video Where Are You Now?, Lady Leshurr immediately sets the mood with loud brass ensemble that plays an upbeat, “aww shit” type of tone as the camera moves from showing us the colorful walls of a room to seeing Lady Leshurr in a bright red and yellow oversized crewneck sweater looking very nonchalant. She begins speaking in her accent about how all the people she has been apparently suppose to see and how they have all of a sudden “disappeared”.  The whole song is about people who have treated her like she’d never succeed in the business but now she’s making it pretty big and all those people have seemed to of shut up. Lady Leshurr in this video (and all of her others) is all about the lyrics, upbeat tempo, and flow. throughout the entire video you see her in comfortable and cute outfits but nothing that evokes the idea of sex or distracts you from the lyrics. She makes the song just an all-around fun experience from beginning to end. One thing that also stood out was that despite having a male rapper be featured in the song, he doesn’t appear in the video. There could be many reasons this didn’t happen but I like to think it was purely because Lady Leshurr never has a man in her videos. This speaks volumes to me as a way of saying that a man can collaborate with her but at the end of the day people should want to experience her content as hers. If you came for Lady Leshurr then that’s what you’ll get!

This ties into our other femcee: Miss Celaneous. A lesser known rapper from South Africa. In her 2015 song/video #TRAPEM, she has the same feel as Lady Leshurr in her independence as a female rapper but the difference is the tone and the message that is being told.

miss

It clear to the listeners that Miss Celaneous wants to be seen as versatile with lyrics like

they think I’m rude, they think I’m a dude

He never thinks that when I’m sending my nudes

I’m poorly misunderstood

actually I’m not, they just can’t handle the truth

Miss Celaneous shows the two sides of her that has managed to make people either love her or hate her. She’s naughty, she’s nice, she’s miscellaneous… uh, sorry, Miss Celaneous. Both of these artist use their lyrics instead of their bodies to define themselves. A lot of the times it seems that in order to make it as a female in a male-dominated field of hip hop, you have to talk about sex, show yourself in a sexual way, or both but these ladies it shows that you don’t have to. Femcees of today are still struggling to be taken seriously but with women like Lady Leshurr and Miss Celaneous out here, it’s only a matter of time!

Not Your “Average” Females

I recall watching a Dope Saint Jude video earlier in the course. She was raw and so eclectic, so when I saw her name on the list I knew she was the first artist I would choose. Dope Saint Jude bends the norms in Xxplosive, much like many of her other videos, using her words, her clothing, and overall attitude. She can be seen wearing loose fitting or baggy clothing all throughout the video and takes this very slouchy, masculine stance. Also, she wears her hair locked, which to many aren’t very “lady-like”. As far as lyrics, she refers to women as bitches, so not only is she swearing but she’s using a derogatory term for women. Overall she has a very androgynous look vibe. Her characteristics may even make someone question her sexuality or what she identifies as, but she makes it very clear that she is all female and could care less about what you think.

The next artist I noticed was Nadia Rose in her video for “Station”. Although she doesn’t give off the same consistent masculine appeal like Jude, you can still see her slouching her posture and sporting baggy clothing from time to time. For majority of the video she’s wearing a sports bra, jacket, and form-fitting pants, which are deemed as more feminine, but the amount of skin on top may be seen as unladylike. This is the perfect example of how artists can be on opposite sides of the spectrum, but still given the same label. Also, Rose openly talks about her sex life, reciting “he put his bit in my bit, now I’m “coming” on the go”. Society, both in America and especially in Africa may deem her expressive lyrics as too personal or explicit for a woman.

Overall, both femcees are going against the grain in their own ways and paving the way for future female artists to openly and freely express themselves however they want because tha’s what hip hop is all about.

Stella Mwangi x Lady Leshurr

The first video I watched was “stella stella stella” by Stella Mwangi. Stella Mwangi is a femcee from Kenya. The video for this song is a bit raunchy but not distasteful. She is giving the rebel girl look and feel in this video with her outfits, her lyrics, and the props in the video. She is not over sexualizing her self or exposing her body. In the “girl power or overpowered” reading, they discuss women in hip hop submitting to men and being inferior to men. In this video, Stella is showing that she is equal to a man and can do everything a man can do. Several things in the video shows that she is fighting the stereotype of being inferior to men and being “ladylike”. In the video, she is smoking a cigar, which is known to be very masculine and she is also grabbing her crotch which is often something men do to exert their masculinity. She is challenging the stereotypes of women in hip hop in this video. Her lyrics to the songs are also kind of raunchy as she mentions stepping over bitches and taking other peoples’ boyfriends, the lyrics to the song are not very empowering to women but the songs and the chorus are both very catchy and I really like the song overall. The second video I watched was “Queen’s Speech ep. 4” by Lady Leshurr. Lady Leshurr is a femcee from the U.K. Her video gives a west coast/ Cali vibe and so does her outfit. Her style is very trendy in the video. Her lyricism is great. Her metaphors and punchlines are impressive. She is not over sexualizing herself in the video nor is she overexposing her body. Both songs are good but very different. Stella’s song is very catchy and Leshurr’s song is full of clever punch lines. Neither song is very uplifting to women in particular but at the same time neither song degrades women.

Inside and Out

The moment I heard Gigi LaMayne’s “Fees Will Fall” another well-known female rapper came to mind. Hailing from the U.S is Angel Haze, who’s image and flow I was reminded of when I watched LaMayne’s video. Both artists give off this masculine-feminine vibe. In Fees Will Fall you can see LaMayne wearing what appears to be a sequined dress, with her hair in a bun and wearing make-up, what is deemed to be a feminine appearance. However, her flow and delivery is hard and she uses “masculine” hand gestures to get her point across. In Angel Haze’s video for “Werkin Girls” you can see similar aspects. Haze is dressed in pants and a crop top, with her hair long and straight and makeup. All of these details giving Haze a feminine feel, however, when she starts to rap the way she delivers her bars and the hand motions make Haze appear hard and more like her male counterparts in the game. Not only that but what she says has a manly appeal, especially when she makes references to her bitches and talks about males turning into bitches, insinuating that these males are exhibiting “female” behavior. Both videos are also in very muted color, LaMayne’s being in complete black and white. This gives both videos a very stoic and cold feel to them. One of the only major differences between the two femcees is the messages behind the videos. In “Fees Will Fall” LaMayne’s purpose is to bring awareness to being who you are and claiming your freedom. It is positive and political, touching on how “they” (the government or possibly white America) put on a front and act as though they understand what black America has been through. In “Werkin Girls” the main message Haze is trying to deliver is that she is all about her money and that she is not one to be played with nor underestimated. Although both artists are spreading different messages in these particular videos, they both exhibit being “inside” and also “outside” the box.

Namibia: Women Hip-Hop Artists Challenge Stereotypes

Striking a cool look, Gal Level from Namibia, celebrate their success in the music industry.
Striking a cool look, Gal Level from Namibia, celebrate their success in the music industry.

Different from American hip-hop, African hip-hop prides itself on a more positive portrayal of women, but traditional cultural attitudes towards women still dominate the industry, says Namibian female rappers. They constantly have to prove themselves. Managers routinely pocket 50 percent of the fees, if the women get paid at all. Even when women work on songs or videos that become hits, they still do not get recognized. Despite the prejudice, some of the country’s female hip- hop artists are doing what they can to make music that sends young women listeners an inspiring and positive message.

http://panafricannews.blogspot.com/2010/03/namibia-women-hip-hop-artists-challenge.html