HHAP Episode 30: Hip Hop Producer Duke on Boombap & Hip Hop Production in Tanzania

This is an interview with Tanzanian hip hop producer Duke, founder of M Lab records, Tamaduni Muzik, and the Hip Hop Kilinge (cypher). The interview is mostly in SWAHILI, but we switch back & forth a lot. The Hip Hop African podcast celebrates the various elements of hip hop, but this is our first interview with a hip hop producer.

Duke talks about how he became involved in hip hop in Tanzania, his involvement with the founding of Tamaduni Muzik and the Hip Hop Kilinge (cyphers) they used to host. These cyphers used to bring hundreds of youth from around Dar es Salaam to listen to the DJs, hear MC rhyme, participate in cyphers, buy hip hop fashion made by local artists. Duke also talks about issue of copyright and the art of sampling and the role of the producer in hip hop. We also discuss sounds, the role of the boom bap sound, as well as chopping up other sounds to create a unique sound that represents Tanzanian hip hop. He also talks about the top five artists outside of Tanzania that he would love to work with, as well the directions he sees hip hop in Tanzania going today.

Haya ni mahojiano na Duke, prodyuza wa muziki wa hip hop Tanzania, mwanzilishi wa M Lab Records, Tamaduni Muzik, na Hip Hop Kilinge (cypher). Mahojiano yako zaidi katika SWAHILI, lakini tumechanganya na English kidogo. The Hip Hop African Podast inawakilisha nguzo mbalimbali za hip hop, lakini haya ni mahojiano yetu ya kwanza na prodyuza wa hip hop.

Duke anazungumzia jinsi alivyohusika katika hip hop nchini Tanzania, kushiriki kwake na kuanzishwa kwa Tamaduni Muzik na Hip Hop Kilinge. Kwenye Kilinge, vijana vyengi kutoka Dar es Salaam walikuja kusikiliza muziki uliochezwa na DJs, kusikia sauti ya MC, kushiriki katika cyphers, kununua bidhaa za mitindo ya hip hop. Duke pia anazungumzia suala la hakimiliki na sanaa ya sampling na jukumu la prodyuza katika hip hop. Tulizungumzia pia sauti ya boom bap, na pia kuchop sauti nyingine ili kutengeneza sauti ya kipekee ambayo inawakilisha hip hop ya Tanzania. Pia anazungumzia kuhusu MCs watano wa nje ya Tanzania ambao angependa kufanya kazi nao. Pia tulizungumzia muelekeo wa Hiphop ya Tanzania katika nyakati hizi.

Stella Mwangi’s Koolio

Today I picked Kenyan-Norweigan rapper Stella Mwangi because I thought she ties in all of the themes we talked about in class very well. Additionally, I believe that her use of language in her song Koolio is interesting and bridges two different cultures together.

Continue reading “Stella Mwangi’s Koolio”

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”

Hip Hop Kilinge (cypher)

Hip hop in Tanzania stands strong through events like the open mic night at the New Msasani Club in Dar es Salaam. Every Saturday night artists come from around the city to freestyle and perform. Most nights begin with a discussion of hip hop history. Tanzanian hip hop heads discuss the emergence of hip hop in New York City and its main elements. The night this was recorded they discussed what they felt were the differences between rappers and emcees, as well as between an MC and an emcee. They then moved into a freestyle competition in which several emcees competed to be the last two standing. Once the final two were selected they proceeded to battle it out, with the winner taking money that was collected during the show from the audience.

**The videos are in Swahili with no subtitles”

Keeping it real: Reality and Representation in Maasai Hip-Hop

The article Keeping it Real: Reality and Representation in Maasai Hip-Hop by Katrina Daly Thompson published in the Journal of African Cultural Studies analyzes the style, message and success of a Maasai-themed Tanzanian hip-hop group X Plastaz. The Maasai are a tribe of semi-nomadic people who live in Kenya and Northern Tanzania. They are known around the world for their distinct culture and residence in and around national parks in Kenya and Tanzania. With a member of the Maasai tribe as part of the singing group and the use of Maasai language, costumes and chanting in their performances, the group X Plastaz can be viewed as an example of how hip-hop which has origins in the West has been localized and is an integral part of Tanzanian culture. The writer tells how the group was very popular in Tanzania when they used Swahili in their raps and sounded “…like the Tanzanian version of the Brooklyn rap crews they had been listening to.” When they changed their style, the group became very popular internationally while their success locally declined. Their decline in popularity at home, according to the writer, is attributed to the group’s refusal to pay bribe to get their songs on the air and Tanzanians’ attitude towards the Maasai. Their international success can be attributed to “…their use of traditionalism to appeal to the touristic desire of Western audiences.” The author also writes how by their unique style and message the group X Plastaz claims it is “keeping it real”. CSULA students can access the article by clicking the link below and signing in with their NIS account.

http://web.ebscohost.com.mimas.calstatela.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=793ec4eb-daae-431a-9fcf-1469e7f68824%40sessionmgr115&vid=2&hid=108

Language, Ideologies, Choices, and Practices in Eastern African Hip Hop

This is an essay written by, Alex Perullo and John Fenn which can be found in the book Global Pop, Local Language by, Harris M. Berger and Michael Thomas Carroll.  Since Hip Hop’s emergence in North America during the 1970’s and 1980’s, Hip Hop has become a global way for the youth to express their own local styles.  This is no different in Tanzania and Malawi, two neighboring African countries.  Both countries use English in their hip hop music, but Tanzania uses also Swahili and the Malawian youth use the language Chichewa.  Author, Alex Perullo, states that Tanzanian hip hop in English reflects American hip hop in talking about the pleasure’s of life for example, parties, friends, and praise of the artist.  Perullo then says that when the musicians use Swahili, the hip hop artist is usually conveying a message to the Tanzanian people about important social issues like lack of employment, corruption in the government, police brutality, and HIV/AIDS.  Tanzanian hip hop artists have stayed away from some American themes found in rap music like violence, because it is seen as disrespectful by the Tanzanian people.  Although English is the dominant political and economic language in Tanzania, it is only spoken by five percent of the population, so Swahili has become the most dominant language in the Tanzanian hip hop scene.  Many Tanzanian hip hop artists use American rappers such as Tupac Shakur to learn the flow of hip hop music and once they have acquired the skills they develop themselves as Tanzanian hip hop artists.  The creation of new words and the changing of the meaning of old Tanzanian words is core to the hip hop scene because this creates a common culture the youth of Tanzania are able to identify with.  In Malawi, English is all over rap and hip hop music, but it is usually accompanied simultaneously by the language Chichewa.  Much of the conversation about hip hop music in Malawi is done in English including newspapers, radio, and face to face dialogue, but the young hip hop artists of Malawi realize the importance of using the local Chichewa language when trying to convey certain messages in their music.  The Malawian youth see hip hop as having important social functions as well as a way to effectively transmit meaning.

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=AQWyMWVV9IAC&oi=fnd&pg=PA19&dq=african+hip+hop+music&ots=037afLgHMz&sig=e5bJUiYGJi4LUCzl9xTxKiU5jzs#v=onepage&q&f=false