Wangechi Waweru is a Kenyan rapper, singer, and songwriter. She was born on January 19th 1994 in Nairobi, Kenya. Growing up she knew she had a love for music. Wangechi has said that her passion for music derived from listening to Nazizi who is a rapper and songstress. She listened to African music from rappers such as Kalamashaka but she also listened to American music. At just the age of 12 she came to love music by artists such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Notorious B.I.G, Lauryn Hill, and many more. Wangechi’s taste in music was very diverse and eventually that diversity fed into her own music. When she finally found her calling for music she released her first mixtape, “Consume Chakula ya Soul”, in 2013. She came into the rap game with a unique and versatile flow. Continue reading “Here’s To US”
Born Mabel Oine Alubo, 24 year-old Bella Alubo is an up and coming Nigerian artist. Bella signed with Tinny Entertainment in December of 2016, after being recognized for a cover of Kanye West’s song ‘Therapy,’ and has features with mainstream artists like YCee.
While being branded as Pop, Afrobeat, and Hip Hop, Bella reinforced her Hip Hop standing late last year in a cover of Cardi B’s ‘Bodak Yellow.’ While this cover only has 6,000 views, compared to her pop and afrobeat videos that have over 100,000, she uses this platform to show her lyrical abilities. Continue reading “Defying the Norm”
Fena Gitu is a well known controversial rapper and singer from Kenya. Growing up in musical household she grew to have a love for music. At 23 years old she has managed to make an impact on her society. She is a free spirit who clearly doesn’t care about how society says women should act.
Society says that women should dress and act a certain way. Fena Gitu has unique sense of style. You can see through they way that she dresses that she is defying gender norms. Gitu can be seen wearing vests, button ups, and a ties. Women wearing skirts and dresses is what is accepted in Kenyan society. Continue reading “Fena-menal”
Who is Astou Gaye, and how did she set the contemporary precedent for aspiring female rappers in the banlieus surrounding Dakar?
Better known by her stage name Toussa Senerap, Astou began her career calling out a highly-patriarchal Senegalese culture that withholds respect for women in both marriage and the hip-hop industry. There is no questioning Astou’s commitment to overturning society’s status-quo: her first experience with rap was in 50 Cent’s international banger, “In da Club” – a testament to selling drugs and pimping women that Astou transformed into a struggle for women’s emancipation. Continue reading “Toussa, or all-inclusive”
KEKO – Cry for Help
It is difficult to point out female artist in the African Hip Hop industry that are succeeding and staying consistent. However, Keko, a female Ugandan rapper is killing the game. In her song, Cry for Help, she sheds the light on the physical and mental abuse that women in many societies experience. As a woman, I do not necessarily want to hear a male’s perspective on life, hustling and relationships all the time. This is why Keko is important in the African music industry as she sheds a light on some of the struggles that are more relatable to women.
Stella Nyambura, better known as STL, is one of the best Kenyan female rappers out right now. Continue reading “The Queen of Kenya”
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.
When it comes to being one of the hottest female rap artists in the game, you have to go hard or go home. Queens born rap artist, Nicki Minaj, knows that all too well and living in this day an age, sex sells in almost every piece of work. Rather it be in forms of fashion, hair, you name it, sex is everywhere. And let’s not forget that she is a beautiful, young woman with a beautiful body to match her lyrical talent so it shouldn’t come as a surprise when she released an explicit visual video to her hit song “Anaconda” in which she raps about her experience with guys she has been with in the past. While the video is rather provocative with women surrounding Nicki in short panty like undergarments and skin tight clothing with their behinds hanging out, the video also celebrates sexually attractive women.
Some viewers may feel a little off guard because they are uncomfortable speaking out about sex and don’t understand what it’s like to be sexually liberated and free to express oneself in such matter. In one of the scenes of the video, Nicki is in the kitchen cutting bananas and then proceeds to put a whole one in her mouth, symbolizing that she’s comfortable with her sexual openness and that being sexual with the banana means that she possess some type female power. Earlier this week I read some content that mentions Nicki Minaj as someone who markets herself as a “sexual entrepreneur” because sex is embossed in almost all of her work. And given her outgoing personality and the general audience that she appeals too, Nicki Minaj may not come out and say the song is about sex because at the end of the day it’s all about perception and we the viewers may get a total different message than what she intended to give out.
From my own search conducted online, I would like to discuss a hip hop video by Senegalese rapper, Sister Fa titled Milyamba. Sister Fa is casually deemed the queen of rap in Senegal so when I came across her video I was almost immediately drawn to the 90’s vibe of it and also how the video was edited due to the warm graphics. The artist is speaking in her native language so you cannot understand anything until you come across the chorus but due to a small description, she is mostly speaking about the hard life of women in her native land of Senegal then the video shows visuals of women working and carrying baskets on their heads. Sister Fa is a representation of all the strong women in Senegal because she is bringing awareness to what is going on in her surroundings and wants a change. Sister Fa wears a head wrap, khaki pants and shirt and a small pendant chain which is fairly different from other female rappers in other countries. Sister Fa portrays herself as a soldier ready for war and ready to take on any action that may come about for speaking out against problems that women, particularly those that live in villages, face. It is very hard for women to have such courage in those countries. She can get her message across to different outlets without over-sexualizing herself or be half naked in her videos because that isn’t the message she is trying to send to her viewers. Sister Fa’s deliverance is consistent and smooth, sometimes causing her to rap faster in some verses when she is getting passionate about some critical issues that are more meaningful to her. Sister Fa sings the chorus making it known that although women are going through a struggle right now, she wants them to know that everything will be alright.
Hip Hop was borne from the oppression Black people faced in their urban communities and the outlet to this madness was found in a dope beat and intellectual wordplay. The Black struggle found in the Bronx in America can be mirrored in South Africa where Black people were similarly oppressed in their communities. The Black struggle is unique– if you’re not a member of the Black community, it’s hard to understand what it’s like living while Black. It’s a never ending struggle of escaping oppression and trying to live fully in your skin. Blacks in America in the 90s reached out their hands to their brothas and sistas in South Africa because they knew all too well what it’s like enduring the war against Black all over the world.
Dope Saint Jude, a queer South African hip hop artist and Joey Badass, Brooklyn Native hip hop artist, although growing up in two completely different places, explore what it means to live like them, live Black like them.
In Dope Saint Jude’s video for her song “Brown Baas” the focus is mainly on her and her brown skin and statement locs where she is delivering fierce lines about the oppression she faces being Black in South Africa which hints at the remnants of Apartheid still in the country. She uses the South African term “baas” which means authority figure, and proclaims herself as a “baas” or boss, saying that she’s proud of her Blackness even though others may have a problem with it. She’s owning who she is. She repeats, ”
What it’s like to be brown for a girl like me” “What it’s like to be a baas for a girl like me”
Similarly, Joey Badass invites people into his world with his song, “Like Me” that talks about the everyday struggles of being a Black man in his Brooklyn. The daily fight to stay alive and how people like him live differently and have a whole other perspective on life. “Like Me” was used as a protest song on Jimmy Fallon to shine light on the recent killings of unarmed Black men raising awareness of the pressures young Black men, and Black people in general face.
Both artists reclaim their Blackness and highlight the struggles that come with it, but also show how it’s a source of pride. Dope Saint Jude and Joey Badass both reflect on their experiences through their lyrics and are really trying to send a message because their lyrics come in clear. Joey Badass’s video is more of a cinematic piece where he paints a story for the listener and visual, while Dope Saint Jude has herself as the focus. The video that is very raw and grimy. They both are being a voice for young Black people who are trying to figure out their place in a world that isn’t always that kind to them.