Tumi Molekane-Once Upon A Time

Tumi Molekane is a South African hip hop artist who mainly performs in Soweto, South Africa. He is originally from Tanzania, a country where his parents exiled to escape the apartheid in South Africa. However, Tumi went back to South Africa when he was 11 years old. He is now a prominent hip hop artist, known for producing songs with conscious lyrics. For example, in a song called Once Upon A Time, Tumi collaborates with Chinese Man, a French hip hop band. In this song, Tumi tells his version of African history through creative historical references and wordplay. For example,

“Once upon a time in this great land
European settlers would set off on a cave man quest
Dutch king summoning Jan Van Beek…
The rest was Queen Elizabeth conquest
As portrayed quite well by Cate Blanchett
Great actress, wait I may digress!
Before that was pyramids and villages where pigmy little man and other such denizens rest”

In the above lyrics, Tumi is referring Jan van Riebeeck, who is a Dutch explorer who went to Cape Town to establish a Dutch Cape Colony in the 17th century. In the next line, Tumi is referring to how the British Empire colonized South Africa on the behalf of Queen Elizabeth I. He then references Cate Blanchett for playing Queen Elizabeth I in the film Elizabeth. The question is why might he say the actress’ name if he knows he is digressing? This is because the word “Blanchett” and the word “conquest” are slant rhymes. Moreover, on the last two lines, Tumi refers to the indigenous population as “pigmy little man” and “denizens”. The words satirically reflect what the Europeans had viewed of the native population when they first came to South Africa. In the next verse, Tumi says

“Break a law, take a farm you get our your acres I’d sooner root for
That than a handout with arms embargo
 It’ll be my own Zimbabwe so Colin Powell will swallow my bow
And arrow and follow that”

Through these lyrics, Tumi touches upon a land appropriation issue in South Africa and says it could be radicalized like Zimbabwe.  He then says how Colin Powell, which represents the U.S., could impose arms embargo on South Africa by “swallowing bows and arrows”.

Tumi through the two verses, touches upon the past and present issues of South Africa. He then ultimately pays homage to his country as he sings,

“Bring out the marching band
Let’ em play an anthem for our continent”


Prophets Of Da City-Neva Again

Prophets Of Da City was a Hip Hop group in South Africa from 1988 to 2001. The group consisted of three rappers, Ready D, Shaheen and Ramone, the three black South Africans who lived in the discriminatory apartheid era.  The rappers, having been social outcasts during the apartheid era were renowned for producing songs with lyrics which commentated social and political conditions of South Africa. For example, one of the songs the Prophets of Da City produced was Neva Again, a song which produced in 1994, a year in which the apartheid regime collapsed. As such, the lyrics of the song are full of hope. The song begins with Nelson Mandela, proclaiming the end of the apartheid regime by saying in his speech, “Never and Never Again shall it be that this beautiful land shall again experience the oppression of one by another”. The song congratulates Nelson Mandela, calling him “Excellent, Finally a black president” and commemorates revolutionaries all over the world who continue to fight against the oppressors by saying it is dedicated to those “who are down with the revolution, all over the world  and never snoozing…who are down with a struggle G,even when things got ugly”. After this reflexive tone, the song changes to hope. It jubilantly exclaims

“Africa rejoice, raise your fists , raise your voice.

Africa bring the noise cause you’ve gotta make THE CHOICE.

Cause ever since the oppressor came here he messed up Azania

Made ya slaves and he even  raped ya,

But I made my x on the paper, so mr oppressor I guess I’ll see your ass later alligator.”

The lyrics here are noteworthy because of three reasons. First, the content is jovial and hopeful as it tells Africa to be happy, to rise up and to make a strong presence because “the oppressor” is gone. Second, the lyrics rhyme; rejoice-voice-noise-choice, Azania-ya, oppressor-alligator, making the song catchy and rhythmic. Third, the artist mentions the word “Azania” in the song. This is actually what the Ancient Greeks had called when they referred to parts of Southern Africa. The word Azania may have been used to vividly portray the time when Africa was under the European subordination.

Prophets of Da City through the song Neva Again says how South Africa is liberated from the European oppressors and declares that the country would not be oppressed again.

Neva Again!


AKA – Congratulate Vs. Drake – Thank Me Now

In terms of style and delivery AKA is almost synonymous with Jay Z in that their familiar rap patterns let you know that this track is about to be amazing. Meanwhile Drake has developed his own sound within Young Money under Lil Wayne and with a similar connotation to the naming of the tracks we can see that Thank me Now would be just as effective as Congratulate me. In Congratulate me AKA has to take the time to congratulate himself for how far he’s made since he started, Meanwhile, Drake in thank me now comes of as a little more cocky and prepared, thanking the listener directly and giving them ample opportunity to thank him for a song well done. While the topics are very similar, as previously dictated in the post, the way they give permission to give them thanks and a pat on the back for a job well done, couldn’t be any more different in their delivery. “Hold your applause, this is your song, not mine,” “On the bed, on the floor, now congratulate me.” The songs are also a critical look at self from Drake and AKA analyzing the lives that they lead up to this point in their respective careers. As can be expected of any performance art there are times that an artist can perform in front of 40 people or 400 people either way they need to perform as if they’ve packed out Maddison Square Garden. There is also the process of becoming a household name which takes not only time but proper preparation and relationships. Now that AKA can be heard on the radio as well as Drake, at least in the context of this post, you can feel the similar motif which is simply support and congratulate both artist on a job well done.

AKA – Congratulate

Drake – Thank Me Now

Nadia Nakai – Like Me vs Nadia Rose – Station

This post is dedicated to the comparison of two talented female emcees, from two different countries that share a first name. Nadia Nakai and Nadia Rose both speak on the fact that no one can step to them, whether lyrically or otherwise. With upbeat rhythms and fast rap patterns one could definitely draw a comparison between their styles of delivery and topic choice, however the visuals to accompany the video could not be more different. Nakai brought the b-girl aspect of hip hop to her video, whereas Rose’s Station is literally at a train station saying that she has the go. Station starts with a uptempo boom-bap pattern beat, and a song that would leave you understanding that she won’t be in the same position, space or even place as she is always on the go. Meanwhile, you cannot forget Nadia Nakai, nor can you get close to have the relentless flow that she professes to use throughout the track. Typical in Nakai fashion Nadia flaunts what she has and challenges anyone who thinks that they can step to her about it.

Meanwhile, Nadia Rose calls out fans who talk about her as if she wont talk about it to their face, and when they do reply they want to keep up and if it weren’t obvious at this point, they cannot. Even down to the more specifics of the beats that they decided to use for the songs are tough, as Nakai’s beat for Like Me sounds like a Swiss beats classic and, Rose’s beat selection sounded like a Neptune’s sound. The overall message trying to be conveyed as previously mentioned is that you cant step to these talented ladies with anything short of amazing. Both Femcees also defy the standard representation of what’s ladylike for an emcee, with the overaggressive crumping in Like Me, and to the aggressive styles in which she tells you that you can’t see her in Station.

Nadia Rose – Station [Official Video]

Nadia Nakai – Like Me

Nigerian, South African/Kenyan connection. The battle of the “Koolest”

Today on The Hip-Hop African Blog we analyze the comparison between Nigerian rapper Davido’s song “Coolest kid in Africa” featuring, awesome, South African rapper Nasty C and Kenyan pop singer/rapper Stella Mwangi’s song “Koolio.” Both songs are exciting and begin with catchy beats, however, where Davido’s “Coolest kid in Africa” starts low and slow, with heavy bass and a sick trap beat drop, Stella’s “Koolio” picks up the pace with a faster electro-hop beat that is reminiscent of Pitbull’s I” I Know You Want Me.”

In Davido’s song “ Coolest kid in Africa” he describes that the reasons that he is the coolest are that he is both rich and connected, has enough money to change your life, if you let him, and because of the amount of women who choose to accompany him wherever he goes. Whereas, Stella in “Koolio” describes her “Koolness” as a product of her awesome life, which you should already know about, because of her gangsta style, though she does profess to not be a gangsta. Additionally, she suggests that you should not try to hinder her style or movements, because she keeps her Kool cooler that Coolio, which is not only a metaphor for being the pinnacle of coolness, but also a reference to famous 90’s Hip Hop Artist Coolio, who was known for not only his Coolness but his gangsta lifestyle, point of reference “Gangsta’s Paradise.”

The biggest comparison between the two can be found in Nasty C’s verse on the “Coolest kid in Africa” which connects the party vibe of knowing how cool he is, much like how Stella professes her coolness as a fact before the song, to the concept of finding out how cool he is like Davido suggests throughout the song. Two braggadocio songs professing to how cool the other is based on previous memory of their exploits.

Davido – Coolest Kid in Africa (Official Video) ft. Nasty C


South Africa vs. the U.s.

For today’s post I analyzed “Roll Up” by Emtee and “Kid Cudi” by Blac Youngsta. Because South African hip hop  is mainly focused on politics and activism, Emtee’s video was unexpected. He performed completely outside the norm. His video began with him smoking a blunt then arguing with what I am assuming is his girlfriend. The remainder of the video  consisted of idle lyrics with no substance. Emtee’s message was very artificial. All he spoke about were materialistic things, like weed and money. As a fan of “conscious music,” I was a tad disappointed. Now, Emtee’s song wasn’t bad, but I was expecting a invigorating message on activism, not a song about money and drugs. Emtee’s video was much like a U.S. artist. Many U.S artist focus on artificial things like fame, cars, money, jewelry, etc. This similarity is shown in Blac Youngsta’s “Kid Cudi.” Blac Youngsta’s song is centered around having sex. His video began with him discussing with his friend how they engage in sexual intercourse with a woman. He goes on to bashing what he calls “f****k n****as,” at bragging about his money and cars. Black Youngster and Emtee both had videos that didn’t necessarily contain a pertinent message. Both were focused on “stunting” on others and glorifying themselves. Neither one of them focused on youth influence, politics, or activism. The only difference between the two is that Black Youngsta’s video was much more graphic. It seemed like almost every  other word was a curse word. But, the vulgarity of it makes this an underground track. “Kid Cudi” probably would never get played on the radio. I feel the same for Emtee’s “roll Up.” Because his message is not the normal politics driven message of South African hip hop, Emtee’s song probably isn’t played on the radio.

South African & American Hip Hip: Brothers From another Mother

There are many similarities between the history of South Africa and the history of North America. From white supremacy to black/colored people fighting for their rights. Because of these parallels, its very understandable that hip hop music for both countries have similarities in sound and style. Today we’re going to be looking at two hip hop songs, one from America and another from South Africa. AKA is an award winning South African hip hop artist and producer from Cape Town.


In his song Composure, you immediately notice the trap music sound that sets the mood for the song and music video. AKA appears to be in a studio for a photo shoot while he raps. The flow is very similar to that of an American rapper. Even the auto tune-like chorus is very common to modern American hip hop. The first thing that I thought of when seeing this was Drake. Just for consistency, I’ll give a little background on who Drake is. He’s an award winning American rapper from Canada who’s resume includes acting in a Canadian teen drama between 2001 and 2009 . drake-ftw

In his music video for Energy, Drake sort of has the same sound and feel as AKA’s Composure song. For Composure, it seems as though AKA is talking to someone directly about them doing him wrong which is pretty synonymous with Drake talking about all the people in his life who have done him wrong. This is a pretty common trait found in rap songs. I find it to be really cool how the culture of these two different countries aren’t completely the same but when it comes to hip hop and its sound/ style you start to really notice the similarities. The significance of hip hop can be seen in the ways that it brings our people together and this is just another example of that.

“Baddest ft. Burna Boy, Khuli Chana, Yanga ” – AKA

Photograph of artist AKA

“Baddest ft. Burna Boy, Khuli Chan, Yanga” is a 2015 hip-hop song by South African hip-hop artist AKA.  According to a 2011 Sunday World article, the 27 year old rapper from Cape Town started working on music in 2002, and later joined a group called Entity in 2005.  AKA did not reach status as a household name until his around 2011 with the success of his début solo album Alter Ego.

“Baddest” appears to be a track aimed as popular radio play and night-life.  It’s lyrics do not place it within the realm of conscious or message rap but rather in the realm of the popular commercial hip-hop music sung and danced to by the masses, for example, “Bought a sports car and some real estate/ Now them niggas stand when they see me.”  AKA sings some of his lyrics with a repetitive melody that creates the “hip-hop pop” sound that has been very popular in the last few years of hip hop music.  The song is very fun and danceable!  I enjoy listening to it and it seems like a fun song for summer parties.

I wonder to what extent AKA is critiqued for creating music that appeals to popular charts rather than the political and social movements from which hip-hop sprung.  In my opinion, I believe there must be space for all types of music.  I also do not blame AKA for the shift in popular hip-hop music that seem to have removed it from black consciousness.  There is money to be made and no one faults pop artists for creating apolitical catchy music.But my question is whether songs such as “Baddest” should still be referred to as hip-hop when they are so divorced from hip-hop’s historical motives.