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”

30 days of Tanzanian hip hop: Day 21 Zavara aka Rhymson

30 days of Tanzanian hip hop: Day 21 – Zavara aka Rhymson. In 2010 wearing a Watengwa t-shirt. I’ve known Zavara since 1996 and I have not met many emcees that were that dedicated to developing hip hop culture in Tanzania. Since day one Zavara has been all hip hop, all the time. For Zavara there is no room for pop music in hip hop and no room for non-conscious lyrics in hip hop, and he doesn’t care who he pisses off with his views. Zavara helped introduce me to TZ hip hop years ago, and through him I got to kick it with KBC, D Rob, Y Thang, Sugu, Dola and others who were the pioneers of TZ hip hop. Later he wanted to make sure that whatever I wrote got the history of TZ hip hop correct. So now, when I write, I’ve got artists like Zavara, KBC, and others in mind, because I want to correctly represent their histories.

Zavara

*30 days of TZ hip hop is to show some of what I experienced the past year in Tanzania.

Documentary ‘Ni Wakati’ Brings American, East African Artists Together

Los Angeles — The new documentary by Kenyan filmmakers Michael Wanguhu and Russell Kenya premiered at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles this year. It proved to be a good year for Kenyan film, with eight films set in the country.

Ni Wakati is a documentary that deals with issues including the state of hip hop, connections between Africans and African Americans, and the struggles between commercialized and conscious hip hop.

Continue reading “Documentary ‘Ni Wakati’ Brings American, East African Artists Together”