Rapping In A Native Language

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Raj (Okemwa Rajiv) is a Kenyan Rapper that raps in his native language Kisii. The Gusii language (also known as Kisii or Ekegusii) is a Bantu language spoken in the Kisii district in western Kenya, whose headquarters is Kisii town, (between the Kavirondo Gulf of Lake Victoria and the border with Tanzania).  His unique style of rap is a mixture of Kisii, a blend of English, and Swahili which is his Kisii flow. Historically, Kenyan hip hop was initially in Swahili and English. But Raj feels that it would be great if everyone was rapping in their own native language. Raj raps about relatable issues and want to be an inspiration to youth going through the struggles they face everyday. He said in an interview that “We need to embrace our African culture including the language.” https://www.musicinafrica.net/magazine/5-questions-kenyan-rapper-raj. In February 2015, he was signed to Kaka Empire Management which he eventually left. Now he owns a studio called Music Bank where he produces his own songs. He has been inspired by artists, including Kenya’s Nyashinski and Sauti Sol, Nigerian Wizkid and South Africa’s AKA. Continue reading “Rapping In A Native Language”

Here’s To US

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”

From Nairobi to the Concrete Jungle

Simon Kimini, also known as “Bamboo”, is a well known Kenyan rapper. His parents are of East African descent. Although he was raised in Inglewood, California he is still a rapper who represents Africa. When Bamboo was 17 years old his parents sent him to Nairobi. There, he was able to obtain a record deal with his group K- South. As his success was growing in Nairobi he created a record label called Project 254 with Attitude and Tim Waindi, who are also well known Kenyan rappers. Continue reading “From Nairobi to the Concrete Jungle”

Straight Outta Kenya

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Brain Robert Ouko aka Papa Jones aka Khaligraph Jones was born on June 12, 1990 in Nairobi, Kenya. To be more specific he was raised in Kayole Estate in Nairobi. Khaligraph Jones is now a popular Kenyan hip hop artist. But he wasn’t always known. He started music at a very young age, influenced by his elder brother. He’s first recognized from his first track at the age of 13. Six years later at age 19 Khaligraph won the Kenyan Edition of the Channel O Emcee Africa competitions in 2009. Continue reading “Straight Outta Kenya”

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.

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.

Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa: Ni Wakati

This book examines social change in Africa through the lens of hip hop music and culture. Artists engage their African communities in a variety of ways that confront established social structures, using coded language and symbols to inform, question, and challenge. Through lyrical expression, dance, and graffiti, hip hop is used to challenge social inequality and to push for social change. The study looks across Africa and explores how hip hop is being used in different places, spaces, and moments to foster change. In this edited work, authors from a wide range of fields, including history, sociology, African and African American studies, and political science explore the transformative impact that hip hop has had on African youth, who have in turn emerged to push for social change on the continent. The powerful moment in which those that want change decide to consciously and collectively take a stand is rooted in an awareness that has much to do with time. Therefore, the book centers on African hip hop around the context of “it’s time” for change, Ni Wakati.

The book features essay by hip hop artists and activists like Amkoullel L’enfant Peulh (Mali), Kama from Kalamashaka (Kenya), Malle Marxist (Tanzania), Mejah Mbuya (Tanzania), and Slim Emcee (Uganda). The book also features a chapter co-authored by South African hip hop pioneer Shaheen Ariefdien. The book also has chapters that cover Kenya, Madagascar, North Africa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Tanzania.

The book is available on Amazon

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