HHAP Episode 34: Reggie Rockstone on the Pan African connections with Ghanaian Hiplife & Hip Hop Culture

Reggie Rockstone is one of the pioneers of hiplife in Ghana. In this conversation, he discusses how as a Pan Africanist, his perspective influenced his participation in hip hop culture in Ghana. He talks about the importance of popularizing the use of African languages through music, and how he helped to popularize the use of Twi in Ghanaian hiplife and hip hop. He discusses the importance of African languages in reaffirming pride, breaking colonial mentalities, and bridging class divides. Reggie Rockstone also talks about his own Pan Africanist upbringing, and the impact of his Diaspora experiences, as well as those of his father and African American mother. 

The episode begins with Reggie Rockstone’s song “Proactive” and ends with his song “Woso”, both on his 2010 album Reggiestration, which is available on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/reggiestration/412457159.

Reggie Rockstone can be found on Instagram @reggierockstone711 and Twitter @ReggieRockstone

HHAP Episode 17: Abena Rockstar on Hip Hop and the Music Industry in Ghana

Abena Rockstar is a Ghanaian hip hop artist who is known for writing hard hitting, raw hip hop lyrics. She performs mostly in Twi, and is among a small group of female artists in Ghana who’s style focuses on strong hip hop lyricism. Many female artists in Ghana choose to enter into other genres, whether it be Hiplife or gospel music. The idea that women are not supposed to be hardcore hip hop lyricists is a perspective we see throughout hip hop globally.

In this interview, we sat down at a local restaurant near Abena’s home in Tema, outside of Accra and talked about a lot of different topics. Abena Rockstar discusses the visibility of women in Ghanaian hip hop, the pressure to sing instead of rap, ideas of how women should behave, and her views on the category of “female rapper”. She also talks about her views on Hiplife, her participation in the “Gh Female Rappers Cypher” project, and the music industry in Ghana.

In 2014, Abena Rockstar released the EP “Only Few Can Relate” and in 2017 she released the EP “MAFIA”. The songs featured in this podcast include the singles “I’m Ready”, “Abena”, and “Broke Nyass Brodas” is a commentary on male and female relationships. We have included links to her music, website, and social media profiles.

Abena Rockstar was among several artists featured in the “Gh Female Rappers Cypher”. Other artists featured on the project were Eno, Esbee, Porsche, EyiRap, Xcot, Mila, and Scrach. The track can be heard at http://youtu.be/ztRX0qbOU4I

Abena Rockstar’s website: http://abenarockstar.com
Twitter: @AbenaRockstar
Facebook: AbenaRockstar

Episode Playlist
:28 “Abena”
3:30 Episode intro
10:35 “Broke Nyass Brodas”
13:25 “I’m Ready”
16:17 Interview with Abena Rockstar
47:22 “Now u Know”

*This episode was produced and mixed by Howard University student @Yashua7Rashad

Abena Rockstar is a Ghanaian hip hop artist who is known for writing hard hitting, raw hip hop lyrics. She performs mostly in Twi, and is among a small group of female artists in Ghana who’s style focuses on strong hip hop lyricism. Many female artists in Ghana choose to enter into other genres, whether it be Hiplife or gospel music. The idea that women are not supposed to be hardcore hip hop lyricists is a perspective we see throughout hip hop globally.

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 17: Abena Rockstar on Hip Hop and the Music Industry in Ghana”

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.

 

HHAP Episode 9: A Discussion with Edem on Hip Hop and Language in Ghana

This episode is a conversation with Ghanaian hip hop, hiplife, and reggae artist Edem. Edem is one of the first hip hop artists to rap in Ewe. Many other Ghanaian hip hop artists perform in Twi or Pidgin English. In this conversation, we discuss hip hop and hiplife in Ghana. When it comes to hiop hop, Ghana follows its own rules. The relationship between hip hop and Hiplife in Ghana is an ongoing debate. This conversation with Edem covers that, as he explains how he uses different sounds and different languages in his music. Edem, like many artists in Ghana, has moved between genres, sometimes mixing genres in the same song. As one of the few artists to rap in Ewe, Edem also discusses the importance of language and culture in his music. As an artist, his music reflects his African, Ghanaian, and Ewe identities, something that Edem feels has been important in establishing himself as an artist.

Episode Outline:
Introduction
“The Legacy” (7:20)
“Angels and Demons” (11:20)
Conversation (13:45)
Outro with “Gbevu” (50:52)

You can find Edem online on several platforms: Edem’s music can bought on iTunes | on Facebook | on Twitter @iamedem

This episode is a conversation with Ghanaian hip hop, hiplife, and reggae artist Edem. Edem is one of the first hip hop artists to rap in Ewe. Many other Ghanaian hip hop artists perform in Twi or Pidgin English. In this conversation, we discuss hip hop and hiplife in Ghana. When it comes to hiop hop, Ghana follows its own rules. The relationship between hip hop and Hiplife in Ghana is an ongoing debate. This conversation with Edem covers that, as he explains how he uses different sounds and different languages in his music. Edem, like many artists in Ghana, has moved between genres, sometimes mixing genres in the same song. As one of the few artists to rap in Ewe, Edem also discusses the importance of language and culture in his music. As an artist, his music reflects his African, Ghanaian, and Ewe identities, something that Edem feels has been important in establishing himself as an artist.

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 9: A Discussion with Edem on Hip Hop and Language in Ghana”

Ghana Main Stream

In class we discussed Ghana style hip-hop. In Ghana, in order to get radio airplay the music has to be socially conscious. Secondly, hip-hop is used as an education tool to help the youth, which is majority of the population, to become more away their political and social issues. As I searched to put a real life example to the class discussion and reading, I had to first find an artist. In order to find this artist I went to “The Fader” which is a magazine catering to urban culture. The Fader showed me the 15 Ghanaian artist that should I be on the watch for, and I chose R2bees.

R2Bees is a rap group and is an acronym meaning Refuse To be Broke. The song I selected was Makoma, which was not in English. However, from the class discussion we learned that the people of Ghana speak multiple languages, with the most common being French. Therefore, I had to find a lyric translation and that translation brought so much more meaning to the video.

Makoma means love. In the video there is a couple and we get to watch them grow from the beginning stages of falling in love, to being in love, and then to hardships that come with love. The singers are performing at what looks like a wedding reception tent, which adds another element to the video. The artist are there to remind them of their love and their union, as if to remind the couple of what they had before it falls apart. The story is a tragedy, we watch as the woman abruptly falls out of love with the man and as he does everything in his power to keep her. We watch as the woman walks away and the man falls apart. We listen to the artist describe how one day she loved him with a certain trust and obedience, and then the next day she changed, until one day she was just gone.

From the class and the reading I thought that the music would have a political or social conscious outlook. Then the more I read the lyrics and the more I watched the video I realized the music and the images were open to interpretation. The woman could be the elected official who listened to the people and loved the people as the people loved him, until one day things abruptly changed and the elected official turned his back on those who loved him the most. The song and the video definitely had lots of room for interpretation. Yet and still the video was amazing and matched the lyrics with elegance and accuracy, which is hard to come by.

143 M3nsa

Boundaries are meant to be pushed. Boundaries are usually created out of false norms and restrictive rules. Hip Hop oftentimes finds itself stuck in a box that set the boundaries as grimy, hardcore, sexual content, when Hip Hop can be so much more. Hip Hop is a genre borne from rebels who set out to test and expand the existing limits, and I credit any emcee who lives up to these original doctrines. I decided to focus in on one Ghanaian emcee, M3nsa, who coupled with his American experience and love for his West African roots, is a perfect example of testing the limits of not only Hip Hop but individually as an emcee and music artist.

I listened to “Fanti Love Song” by M3nsa. I was shocked to hear the soft melody of piano accompanying a smooth, soulful voice that belonged to M3nsa. I was use to a conventional, rap style from  M3nsa, but was pleasantly surprised to hear a sort of sultry, talking singing that I absolutely love to hear from contemporary Hip Hop artists. M3nsa sings this love song in a native Ghanaian language. We learned in class about Hiplife, which is a popular music genre in Ghana, and most artists of this genre use Ghanaian pidgin language or speak in Ghanaian languages: Twi, Ga, or Ewe. I’m not sure what language is used in this song. The title of the song, “Fanti Love Story” possibly alludes to the language spoken in the song, because Fanti is both an Akan language and a group of people in Ghana. However, I believe the title is alluding to the message of the song which is a love song to a Fanti woman that M3nsa fell in love with, or he could be professing his love for the Fanti people as a whole and being reflectively amorous about his relationship with Fanti people. The style of this song was very neo-soul which is an indicator of M3nsa’s familiarity with America and its music. It put me in the mind of a Roots or Bilal or even Andre 3000 type of soulful, Hip Hop-y vibe.

M3nsa’s “Fanti Love Song” is definitely reminiscent of the type of music that I have downloaded on my phone right now. I fell in love with the visual, the sound, and the overall vibe. It expands the definition of what is normally considered Hip Hop. It is definitely a song to chill with a boyfriend or girlfriend or to put yourself in a relaxed and sensual mood.

Hip Hop as Social Commentary in Accra and Dar es Salaam

Hip Hop as Social Commentary in Accra and Dar es Salaam by Msia Kibona Clark

African Studies Quarterly | Volume 13, Issue 3 | Summer 2012

Abstract: This paper looks at the use of African hip hop as social commentary in Accra, Ghana and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Hip hop is by its definition a tool of self- expression and self-definition, and is often used as a tool of resistance. Young artists are using the platform of hip hop to speak out on a host of social and economic issues. A transcontinental conversation is now happening with artists all over Africa and the Diaspora. This paper focuses on the hip hop communities in Accra, Ghana and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Both nations have hip hop communities in which socially conscious hip hop is marginalized. In addition, the histories of these two nations are linked by their histories as battlegrounds in the struggle for Pan Africanism, non-alignment, and socialist ideals. These factors have influenced the use of hip hop for social commentary in both cities. This examination of hip hop in Accra and Dar es Salaam reveals important conversations occurring around politics and economics, on both a national and international level. Hip hop artists and the youth they represent are an important component of any social or political struggle towards progress. This research contributes to the need to engage with African hip hop culture and understand its growing implications for Africa.

 

Immunization Strategies: Hip-hop and Critique in Tanzania

The article Immunization Strategies: Hip-hop and Critique in Tanzania by Koen Stroeken written in Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, talks about Tanzanian hip-hop music style called Bongo Flava, which when translated to English literally means “flavor of the brains”. Just like Hiplife in Ghana, Bongo Flava is another example of localization of hip-hop to conform to existing traditions and customs of a society. The author talks about the history of the emergence of Bongo Flava and the various factors that affected its growth, various Bongo Flava artists and their songs together with the social and political issues they address. This article can be found in Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol.75, No. 4 (2005), pp. 488-509 or can be accessed by clicking the link below.

https://lirias.kuleuven.be/bitstream/123456789/158738/1