Journal of Pan African Studies: Hip Hop in Africa

I’ve recently edited a special edition of the Journal of Pan African Studies on hip hop in Africa. With articles by myself and a diversity of other scholars writing on Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

● The Struggle for Hip Hop Authenticity and Against Commercialization in Tanzania  by Msia Kibona Clark

● Urban Guerrilla Poetry: The Movement Y’ en a Marre and the Socio-Political Influences of Hip Hop in Senegal by Marame Gueye

● “Chant Down the System ‘till Babylon Falls”: The Political Dimensions of Underground Hip Hop and Urban Grooves in Zimbabwe by Katja Kellerer

● From Compton to Cape Town: Black(faceless)ness and the Appropriation of Gangsta Rap in Die Antwoord’s “Fok Julle Naaiers” by Lanisa Kitchiner

The Hip Hop Revolution in Kenya: Ukoo Flani Mau Mau, Youth Politics and Memory, 1990-2012 by Mickie Mwanzia Koster

● Swag’ and ‘cred’: Representing Hip-hop in the African City by Caroline Mos

● Hip Hop Music as a Youth Medium for Cultural Struggle in Zanzibar by Shani Omari

● Troubling the Trope of “Rapper as Modern Griot” by Damon Sajnani

● “The Blueprint: The Gift and The Curse” of American Hip Hop Culture for Nigeria’s Millennial Youth by Stephanie Shonekan

Check out the issue:
Cover photo is Thiat from the Senegalese group Keur Gui performing at the Trinity International Hip Hop Festival. Photo by Msia Kibona Clark. jc_vol6no3_big

Hip Hop from Nigeria to America

In the article “Sharing Hip-Hop Cultures: The Case of Nigerians and African Americas,” author, S. Shonekan presents a thorough description of the state of hip hop as an artistic expression as a whole in the U.S. and in Nigeria. The author draws on the socio-economic conditions of African Americans who are pushed to the fringes of society through racist class oppression and Nigerians who live in one of the poorest and most deprived and dangerous places on Earth. In describing “Black Art” as a cultural expression of resistance and struggle, the author points out how many earlier hip hop artists in America such as Public Enemy, Kool Herc, Queen Latifah, Boogie Down Productions and others have been replaced by commercialized, mutated hip hop that clogs media today such as 50 Cent, Ludacris, Lil Jon, Snoop Dog and others who degrade women, promote violence and drug use and reinforce stereotypes.
Similarly in Nigeria, early pioneers of hip hop with messages of reality and resistance such as Junior, Daddy Showkey, Pretty and Baba Fryo have been replaced, overshadowed by flashy Nigerians who also mutilate hip hop. They look to American ‘pop’ hip hop for inspiration and imitation. Examples used by the author are 2Face, Black Face and others. However, within the U.S. mostly on the underground, sometimes managing to sell, are true hip hop artists like Talib Kweli, Mos Def, and Immortal Technique. In Nigeria as well largely shunned artists exist though they are even harder to find such as the Unsung Heros and Tribesmen, more on them to come.

Shonekan, S. Sharing Hip-Hop Cultures: The Case of Nigerians and African Americans. American Behavioral Scientist 2011 55: 9 originally published online 5 November 2010