African Hip Hop Through Visual Art

This semester students in the Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa course did either podcasts and art pieces. This is some of the artwork submitted from this semester’s students.

 

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”

Switching The Game Up….Trae Yung

Trae Yung is a female rapper/mc who hails from Zimbabwe’s capital of Harare. This Female MC is not one to be reckon with. Her rap  is about everything,life issues such as the problems people face everyday. She doesn’t just rap about life problems but about love,street life,just life in general. Continue reading “Switching The Game Up….Trae Yung”

Defying the Norm

Born Mabel Oine Alubo, 24 year-old Bella Alubo is an up and coming Nigerian artist.  Bella signed with Tinny Entertainment in December of 2016, after being recognized for a cover of Kanye West’s song ‘Therapy,’ and has features with mainstream artists like YCee.

While being branded as Pop, Afrobeat, and Hip Hop, Bella reinforced her Hip Hop standing late last year in a cover of Cardi B’s ‘Bodak Yellow.’ While this cover only has 6,000 views, compared to her pop and afrobeat videos that have over 100,000, she uses this platform to show her lyrical abilities.   Continue reading “Defying the Norm”

Dakar’s Female MCs and the Power of the Cyp(her)

In a hip-hop scene as developed and competitive as Senegal’s, the cypher continues to act as a platform by which talented, young rappers make their debut. The fast-paced intensity of a hip-hop cypher is the perfect way for new artists on the scene to prove to their worth to the public. And in a society where women must give it their all to make an impression in the musical community, the cypher allows female MCs to show everyone that they are just as lyrically passionate and complex than their male counterparts— if not more. Continue reading “Dakar’s Female MCs and the Power of the Cyp(her)”

Fena-menal

Fena Gitu is a well known controversial rapper and singer from Kenya. Growing up in musical household she grew to have a love for music. At 23 years old she has managed to make an impact on her society. She is a free spirit who clearly doesn’t care about how society says women should act.

Society says that women should dress and act a certain way. Fena Gitu has unique sense of style. You can see through they way that she dresses that she is defying gender norms. Gitu can be seen wearing vests, button ups, and a ties. Women wearing skirts and dresses is what is accepted in Kenyan society. Continue reading “Fena-menal”

Married To The Game

Background/Information

Noti Flow - KamatiaNatalie Florence, better known as “Noti Flow”, is a Kenyan musician-rapper and actress. She is known to be a “controversial” artists for different aspects such as; her raunchy photos, sexuality, skin color, sex talk, bluntness, and being on a controversial show. But the view of the public eye has not held her back if anything it has given her more attention and a better opportunity of getting herself and career out there. It wasn’t until her last year of primary school that Noti Flow realized she could play with words. Later on in her life she also realized she could act. Then landed herself a spot on the Nairobi Diaries which is a controversial tv show. Even though she is looked at as controversial, she does not see herself that way and doesn’t care what other people think. Which sends a great message to young girls today. Be who you are and don’t worry about what other people may have to say. Rising to fame and being in the spotlight there are going to be a lot of opinions on artists failing to realize that they are just like anybody else, human. I in fact like Noti Flow because of her controversy. That’s what makes her stand out. Continue reading “Married To The Game”

Toussa, or all-inclusive

Who is Astou Gaye, and how did she set the contemporary precedent for aspiring female rappers in the banlieus surrounding Dakar?

Better known by her stage name Toussa Senerap, Astou began her career calling out a highly-patriarchal Senegalese culture that withholds respect for women in both marriage and the hip-hop industry. There is no questioning Astou’s commitment to overturning society’s status-quo: her first experience with rap was in 50 Cent’s international banger, “In da Club” – a testament to selling drugs and pimping women that Astou transformed into a struggle for women’s emancipation. Continue reading “Toussa, or all-inclusive”

A Lady, a Miss, a Feminine Touch to Hip Hop

If I were to tell you “there are women in hip hop” you wouldn’t hesitate to tell me that you already knew that. For years, women have been making names for themselves in the male dominated field of hip hop through their lyrics, looks, presence, and persistence. Today we’re looking at some femcees (female emcees) that are taking the genre and making it their home. Lady Leshurr is a hip hop artist from the UK who has been  coming out with mix tapes since 2009 and is most known for her Queen’s Speech rap videos.

lady

Her lyrics are clever, silly, and most of all memorable. In her 2016 song/video Where Are You Now?, Lady Leshurr immediately sets the mood with loud brass ensemble that plays an upbeat, “aww shit” type of tone as the camera moves from showing us the colorful walls of a room to seeing Lady Leshurr in a bright red and yellow oversized crewneck sweater looking very nonchalant. She begins speaking in her accent about how all the people she has been apparently suppose to see and how they have all of a sudden “disappeared”.  The whole song is about people who have treated her like she’d never succeed in the business but now she’s making it pretty big and all those people have seemed to of shut up. Lady Leshurr in this video (and all of her others) is all about the lyrics, upbeat tempo, and flow. throughout the entire video you see her in comfortable and cute outfits but nothing that evokes the idea of sex or distracts you from the lyrics. She makes the song just an all-around fun experience from beginning to end. One thing that also stood out was that despite having a male rapper be featured in the song, he doesn’t appear in the video. There could be many reasons this didn’t happen but I like to think it was purely because Lady Leshurr never has a man in her videos. This speaks volumes to me as a way of saying that a man can collaborate with her but at the end of the day people should want to experience her content as hers. If you came for Lady Leshurr then that’s what you’ll get!

This ties into our other femcee: Miss Celaneous. A lesser known rapper from South Africa. In her 2015 song/video #TRAPEM, she has the same feel as Lady Leshurr in her independence as a female rapper but the difference is the tone and the message that is being told.

miss

It clear to the listeners that Miss Celaneous wants to be seen as versatile with lyrics like

they think I’m rude, they think I’m a dude

He never thinks that when I’m sending my nudes

I’m poorly misunderstood

actually I’m not, they just can’t handle the truth

Miss Celaneous shows the two sides of her that has managed to make people either love her or hate her. She’s naughty, she’s nice, she’s miscellaneous… uh, sorry, Miss Celaneous. Both of these artist use their lyrics instead of their bodies to define themselves. A lot of the times it seems that in order to make it as a female in a male-dominated field of hip hop, you have to talk about sex, show yourself in a sexual way, or both but these ladies it shows that you don’t have to. Femcees of today are still struggling to be taken seriously but with women like Lady Leshurr and Miss Celaneous out here, it’s only a matter of time!

Not Your “Average” Females

I recall watching a Dope Saint Jude video earlier in the course. She was raw and so eclectic, so when I saw her name on the list I knew she was the first artist I would choose. Dope Saint Jude bends the norms in Xxplosive, much like many of her other videos, using her words, her clothing, and overall attitude. She can be seen wearing loose fitting or baggy clothing all throughout the video and takes this very slouchy, masculine stance. Also, she wears her hair locked, which to many aren’t very “lady-like”. As far as lyrics, she refers to women as bitches, so not only is she swearing but she’s using a derogatory term for women. Overall she has a very androgynous look vibe. Her characteristics may even make someone question her sexuality or what she identifies as, but she makes it very clear that she is all female and could care less about what you think.

The next artist I noticed was Nadia Rose in her video for “Station”. Although she doesn’t give off the same consistent masculine appeal like Jude, you can still see her slouching her posture and sporting baggy clothing from time to time. For majority of the video she’s wearing a sports bra, jacket, and form-fitting pants, which are deemed as more feminine, but the amount of skin on top may be seen as unladylike. This is the perfect example of how artists can be on opposite sides of the spectrum, but still given the same label. Also, Rose openly talks about her sex life, reciting “he put his bit in my bit, now I’m “coming” on the go”. Society, both in America and especially in Africa may deem her expressive lyrics as too personal or explicit for a woman.

Overall, both femcees are going against the grain in their own ways and paving the way for future female artists to openly and freely express themselves however they want because tha’s what hip hop is all about.