Bow Down to The Empress

On January 12 1992 the Limba tribe of Sierra Leone gained a great addition the Hip Hop community. Philka Tenneh Kamara, better known to her fans as Empress P, is one of the country’s best. Empress P started rapping in her early years to help spread her point to those who may or may not be educated about peace, survival, and hope.

Empress was fortunate to sign with REEMS entertainment which benefited her rap career incredibly. While working with them , Empress dropped many hits but the song that toped them all was “Feminine Era” .  Her 99 bars created a nationwide impact for female rap in general. Because she was able to produce so many hit songs, she was nominated over 5 times as best female hip hop rapper and over 3 times as best new artist. Continue reading “Bow Down to The Empress”

Eno Barony says She’s Not About to Play with Y’all.

You think being a female rapper in America is hard?  Imagine coming up on the scene in Ghana as a female rapper. The music business shows no mercy.  Hailing from the country of Ghana, Eno Barony is a female rapper who was put on the scene with her first single “Tonga” in 2014.  Since then she has had a major impact on the hip hop culture in Ghana. Continue reading “Eno Barony says She’s Not About to Play with Y’all.”

On the Other Side of the Tracks with Gokh-Bi System’s “Pikine”

New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Detroit— name a city in America and there’s sure to be artists that represent the vibrant hip-hop culture that inhabits it. The same holds true across the Atlantic in the West African nation of Senegal, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another city that embodies hip-hop culture as much as the capital city of Dakar. Continue reading “On the Other Side of the Tracks with Gokh-Bi System’s “Pikine””

The Rise of a Prospect: Shane Eagle

     Shane Eagle, a twenty-one year old Johannesburg Hip Hop artist, is one of the most prominent rap potentials in the South African music game right now. Born to an Irish father and Black mother who divorced when he was young, Eagle received a heavy influence of European culture growing up attending predominantly white schools, and frequently visiting his mother in Rabie, Johannesburg, a primarily caucasian region of the province. Needless to say, he received a mixed influence of several african cultures through his interactions in the Johannesburg area. He presents himself with an overall semi-woke style. In one of his songs, Let it Flow, Eagle openly references black culture yet uses only western-influenced visuals in the music video. One of his first lines claims that “the only nigga to own time is Ben Franklin,” but then goes on to talk about how he doesn’t wear diamonds because they killed his ancestors. Now, it should be commonly known to those cultured in black history that a black man did invent the first clock, and therefore should at least be credited where it’s due as opposed to the faux historical figure he is commonly mistaken for.

Shane also raps about forcing himself to become “commercially viable,” which only makes sense as Gauteng, where he grew up with his dad, stays at the top of the ranks for South Africa’s wealthiest and most populated province. Eagle is aware of the need to keep up with a rapidly changing environment and uses his music style as his platform for growth. Continue reading “The Rise of a Prospect: Shane Eagle”

Medikal’s Coming Up on the Scene

Commentary on Medikal’s single Poof Gang

Sick, hospitals, doctors, nurses and patients.  All the reasons why he was given the name Medikal.   Medikal, born and raised in Accra, Ghana is an upcoming Ghanaian hip-hop artist.  Since his beginning starting in 2008, he, along with Sarkodie, has been named one of the highest nominated Ghanaian hip-hop artists for the Ghana Music Awards and has had a major impact on the hip-hop community in Ghana.  Continue reading “Medikal’s Coming Up on the Scene”

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.

 

Palm Wine no Whisky

 

Ghana is known for being a pioneer of African Independence. Kwame Nkrumah lead a crusade to reclaim Africa for Africans and invited the whole Diaspora to seek refuge inside the West African land.  During the 1960s and 1970s,  many African Americans moved to Ghana and reclaimed their African roots, so Ghana over the years has had a special linkage to American Blacks and other members of the continent and the Diaspora.

The Diaspora is comprised of the many lands of exile Africans inhabited after their enslavement. The Diaspora is outside of Africa, but Africa is at the heart of everything.  Showing pride for African roots and your Diasporic home is common among many hip hop artists. M.anifest, a Ghanaian hip hop artist who has spent his life living in Ghana and the United States, shows love to both Ghana and America. In M.anifest’s aesthetic appeal, he wears kente cloth, beads, African clothing, and other jewelry that shows a pride in his African heritage. In his music, M.anifest uses language that both his American and Ghanaian listeners can follow but also slips in colloquial that each audience will understand respectively. While listening to M.anifest’s music, it was evident that he uses his worldly view of not only being familiar with Ghanaian culture and American culture, but culture all over the world as a powerful tool to broaden the scope of his lyrics, maximize his audience, and to enhance the overall sound and presentation of music.

I particularly studied  M.anifest’s song “Palm Wine & Whisky” The title totally sums up his ties to both American and Ghanaian culture. Palm Wine is a common African alcoholic beverage and an American parallel could be whisky. Both are made from natural sources like palm trees or grain. Using pidgin English, M.anifest uses the trope of “being tipsy” to symbolize how people think that he’s unaware or easy to be fooled, but he asserts that he’s aware of the game and steps ahead. The meaning within a meaning in the song is a very African American hip hop thing to do. Many hip hop artists in America make songs where on the surface it’s just a song about drinking, having fun, and beautiful women, but often interwoven into the lyrics are deep, metaphorical messages that you have to sift through to find which the chorus of “Palm Wine & Whisky” supports.  The chorus, rapped by Dex Kwasi, in the third verse says, “palm wine, not whisky” I see this as a rejection of American culture as symbolized by the whisky, and saying that I’m going to choose the African way, my African culture. Also to know that both the American culture and African culture exist, but not letting the American culture overpower the African one.

In class, we focused mainly on the immigrant experience of many African people. The overarching theme through the stories and music of African immigrants is trying to find a balance between an African and American world. This desire for balance could be argued to be a struggle for all Black people wherever they find themselves. How do I stay true to my African self? I think through hip hop, there is an avenue to really make sure that the two selves exist harmoniously. It’s vital for survival. As evidenced through the very nature of this course, hip hop is a language that all black people speak and it’s how we can stay connected.

 

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.

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.