The South Africa Issue of WBL: Global Journal for Hip-Hop Culture

Words Beats & Life: Global Journal for Hip-Hop Culture: The South Africa Issue

This special issue of WBLJ explores South Africa, home to one of the largest and oldest hip-hop scenes in the world. This issue considers the historic ties between artists in the US and South Africa, as well as competing perspectives on how identity, language, and politics are engaged in South African hip-hop. Guest editors for the special issue were Msia Kibona Clark (Prof. of African Studies at Howard University) and FeteJen (Hip-Hop event planner). The cover art features the work of South African graffiti and street art artist, Nardstar.

This issue’s contributors include Warrick Moses and Sipho Sithole, who influence current trends in hip-hop studies in South Africa, as well as the emcee Zubz, who captures the unbridled energy of South African hip-hop for our readers. The issue also includes album reviews and conversations with some of the leading women’s voices in South African hip-hop like Gigi Lamayne and Dope Saint Jude, as well as verses from the poet Hope Netshivhambe. The graffiti and photography in the issue feature work by South African graffiti artist Ewokessay and American photographer and filmmaker Magee McIlvaine (Nomadic Wax). It is our hope that this issue illuminates the importance of South Africa in the global hip-hop community, and that it inspires our readers to deepen their support for hip-hop in their communities at home and around the world.

“I think SA is one of the top five, if not top three, hip-hop capitals of the world, and there isn’t one SA hip-hop sound.”

Lee Kasumba

Select Table of Contents

  • Where my Girls at? Soweto, The Bronx, and the Network of Spoken Word Poetry by Crystal Leigh
  • Colouring Outside the Lines: Disrupting Racial Stereotypes In South African Hip-Hop by Warrick Moses
  • Being Hip-Hop Language Technicians in a Post-National South Africa by Quentin Williams
  • Two Genres one Mic: A Kwaito Jive or a Rap Party? A Revolution Betrayed by Sipho Sithole
  • Interviews with Lee Kasumba and Zubz by Fete Jen
  • Introduction to Hip-Hop in Africa: A Syllabus by Msia Kibona Clark

The articles in this issue really engage the question of the role of Hip-Hop as a tool for social change. Some contributors argue that South African Hip-Hop artists use the genre to engage in important social commentary.

“As they proclaim, denounce, and celebrate in stigmatized Kaaps vernacular, these artists mobilize the conventions of hip-hop — a genre known for its potential as a medium of social uplift — to critique dominant assumptions of cultural practice.”

“Colouring Outside the Lines: Disrupting Racial Stereotypes In South African Hip-Hop” by Warrick Moses

Meanwhile, some contributors argue that Hip-Hop in South Africa has lost its way and artists are no longer using it to spark social change.

“Few hip-hop artists present content that reflects the social concerns or realities of the daily lived experiences of young people in the townships and the suburbs.”

Two Genres one Mic: A Kwaito Jive or a Rap Party? A Revolution Betrayed by Sipho Sithole

The issue includes a twenty-page syllabus “Introduction to Hip-Hop in Africa: A Syllabus” by Msia Kibona Clark. The syllabus provides information and links for resources on Hip-Hop in Africa, broken down by various regions across Africa. The syllabus also includes lesson plans that can be used in high/secondary school, community centers, and university classrooms. The syllabus also includes images (by Msia Kibona Clark) of African Hip-Hop artists and cultures from around the African continent.

Accompanying the issue is an amazingly curated mixtape that features 20 tracks from various South African Hip-Hop artists. These artists hail from various regions around South Africa:

  • YoungstaCPT (Cape Town)
  • Nasty C & Okmalumkoolkat (Durban)
  • Gigi Lamayne & Moozlie (Johannesburg)
  • Sho Madjozi (Limpopo)
  • Cassper Nyovest & Boity (Northwest Province)

The issue is can be downloaded for free for a short time only. Go to to download a copy.

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