HHAP Episode 6: Kwanza Unit, Hip Hop, and Pan Africanism in Tanzania

This episode features a conversation with two hip hop pioneers from Tanzania, KBC & Zavara (aka Rhymson) from the group Kwanza Unit. The conversation discusses the early days of hip hop in Tanzania, the influence of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere (Tanzania’s 1st President) on the social consciousness in Tanzanian hip hop, language and Kwanza Unit’s decision to begin performing in Swahili, the current state of hip hop in Tanzania, the relationship between artists and the national arts council and their policies around copyright and royalties.

Parts of the conversation are in Swahili. Non-Swahili speakers will be able to follow the conversation and attempts are made to summarize the Swahili portions into English.

Table of Contents

Podcast intro – :40

“Put Ya head Up” – 11:21

“Msafiri” – 14:40

Interview – 18:26

“Run Tings” – 1:37:35

“Check Navyo Flow” – 1:41:32

“So Why” – 1:45:35

Resources

Perullo, Alex. (2005). Hooligans and heroes: Youth identity and hip hop in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Africa Today, 5 (4), 74-101.

Perullo, Alex. (2011). Live from Dar es Salaam: Popular Music and Tanzania’s Music Economy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Perullo, Alex. (2012). Imitation and innovation in the music, dress, and camps of Tanzanian youth. In Eric Charry (Ed), Hip Hop Africa: New Music in a Globalizing World (pp. 187-209). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Ntarangwi, Mwenda. (2009). East African Hip Hop: Youth Culture and Globalization. University of Illinois Press.

Lemelle, Sidney J. “‘Ni wapi Tunakwenda’: Hip Hop Culture and the Children of Arusha”. In Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, (Eds). The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture (pp. 230-54). London; Ann Arbor, MI: Pluto Pres

Casco, J. A. (2012). From Music to Politics: Hip Hop in Africa as a political option for the youth: the case of Tanzania. Youth and the city: expressive cultures, public space appropriation, and alternative political participation (pp. 1-18). Madrid: 8º Congreso Ibérico de Estudios Africanos.

Reuster-Jahn, Uta. (2014). Antivirus: The revolt of bongo flava artists against a media-and-entertainment empire in Tanzania. In Matthias Krings and Uta Reuster-Jahn (Eds), Bongo Media Worlds: Producing and Consuming Popular Culture in Dar es Salaam (43-78). Cologne: Rüdiger Köppe.

Clark, Msia Kibona (2012). Hip hop as social commentary in Accra and Dar es Salaam. African Studies Quarterly, 13 (3), 23 – 36. http://asq.africa.ufl.edu/files/Clark-V13Is3.pdf.

Clark, Msia Kibona (2013). The struggle for authenticity and against commercialization in Tanzania. Journal of Pan African Studies, 6 (3), 5-21. http://www.jpanafrican.com/vol6no3.htm.

Clark, Msia Kibona (2014). The role of new and social media in Tanzanian hip hop production. Les Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines, 216 (4), 1115-1136.

Clark, Msia Kibona (2014). Gendered representations among Tanzanian female emcees. In Msia Kibona Clark and Mickie Mwanzia Koster (Eds), Ni Wakati: Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa. Lanham, MD: Lexington Press.

This episode features a conversation with two hip hop pioneers from Tanzania, KBC & Zavara (aka Rhymson) from the group Kwanza Unit. The conversation discusses the early days of hip hop in Tanzania, the influence of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere (Tanzania’s 1st President) on the social consciousness in Tanzanian hip hop, language and Kwanza Unit’s decision to begin performing in Swahili, the current state of hip hop in Tanzania, the relationship between artists and the national arts council and their policies around copyright and royalties.

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 6: Kwanza Unit, Hip Hop, and Pan Africanism in Tanzania”

More Than Hip Hop: I Am…Young Kenyan, Intellectual, and Revolutionary

According to East African Hip Hop: Youth Culture and Globalization by Mwenda Ntarangwi, “young hip hop artists in the East African nations of Kenya…showcase the opportunities and challenges brought by the globalization of music.” Young hip hop artists in Kenya are less likely to be recognized on a global scale that other artists in the world because of the mixture of American and Jamaican rap styled with a touch of the artists native African language.  Ntarangwi claimed that East African hip hop culture was less commercialized because artists were more likely to honor tradition and their culture, which was less appealing to a larger audience. Ntarangwi further illustrated that East African hip hop was an outlet for social change. Some of the social change that East African hip hop artists were calling for a change in the “economic policies, African identity, and political establishments, as well as important issues of health, education, and poverty.” Ntarangwi explanation about East African hip hop artists that did not publicize because they wanted to uplift their people and make them more conscious of the oppression that was forced on them. The perfect example of a Kenyan hip hop artist was Judge most would associate his style with Megadeth, and Jay-Z, according to Reverbnation.

Judge currently from a rap group called Blackduo. He and the group are Kenyan born artists who tried to empower the urban youth in Kenya to resisted the massive in a peaceful demonstration. Judge was “was born in dandora raised in ziwani were people smoke a lot of weed to release the pressure” according to an interview Judge conducted with Hip Hop Kambi. According to Hip Hop Kambi, Judge created a project named Hip Hop 4 Peace. Judge mention that “HIPHOP4PEACE is a movement for every one not only hiphop artist because hiphop is a culture of peace love and unity and this is exactly what the world needs not only Kenya.” Also, the interview went on exploring Judges take in politics and society. Judge stated, “[‘politicking’ means] Man eat man society because of politic every one is bizzy hyping his tribal leaderz,” which was interpreted as politics influence people’s behavior. Also, the interviewer asked him “What is ‘mental slavery’? Do you have a “philosophy of education,” his replied was “ukoloni mamboleo under paid,” which mean neocolonialism undermining people skills and abilities by underpaying for their services. Judge was a very conscious person because a question was about the youth and the drug problem in Kenya and he stated, “drug is a problem in the whole world not only Kenya but, for example, the problem we do face is because of idling, joblessness, lack of education.” Nevertheless, he was asked about the violence in Kenya, and his responses were “I cant say who is promoting violence, but I can say what is promoting violence e.g., poverty, tribalism, hate spich’.” The one message that he was trying to spread to the youth in Kenya was open up your mind and resisted the oppression in a peaceful manner, which was clearly illustrated in a hip hop song he collaborated.

 

shupav-judge-washamba-wenza-320x180

 

Judge collaborated with a group named Washamba Wenza from Dandora, Kenya. The collaboration brought about a song called Shupav which means “…we all SOLDIERS of the same struggle and we all gotta go hard…” The song and video wanted to highlight that since they are artists and receiving some money for their talent do not mean that they are not still struggling with the rest of the poor people. They were calling for everyone in Kenya to participate in a peaceful revolution to get their voices heard on being an end to poverty. The message the song was displayed was that people in Kenya need to wake up and demand more from their politicians. Ntarangwi explained that Kenyan artists hip hop songs are for a political campaign to stop injustice and inhumane acts amongst their people.

 

To read more about Mwenda Ntarangwi book

(http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/88dqr6eq9780252034572.html)

To read more about Judge style of rap

(https://www.reverbnation.com/judgeblackduo)

To read more about the interview

(https://hiphopkambi.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/interview-judge-blackduo/)

To see more of the video description

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF8Jxl0v6xg)

African Hip Hop and Politics of Change in an Era of Rapid Globalization

The article written by Mwenda Ntarangwi titled African Hip Hop and Politics of Change in an Era of Rapid Globalization shows how African hip hop artists address social and political issues in their songs. The writer gives credit to globalization for the emergence of hip hop in Africa. The writer writes how African hip hop has gained popularity because the youth comprise a huge percentage of the total population of Africa. The youth, the author says, use hip hop “…to express and represent their lived experiences, to formulate the relationship between Africa and the West, to challenge the practices and policies of their own governments, and to paint a picture of the kind of society in which they desire to live.” Hip hop gives the youth the empowerment and representation they lack due to the African culture already in place that marginalizes them. The author also recounts the evolution of African hip hop from being an imitation of American hip hop to being a culture of its own and the various factors that shaped it.

Ntarangwi, Mwenda. “African Hip Hop and Politics of Change in an Era of Rapid Globalization.” History Compass 8.12 (2010): 1316-1327.