Various Interpretations of the Same Lyrics

Kween G, Photo from Daily Maverik

Kween G is a hip-hop artist of Ugandan heritage who is based in Australia. As is the case with a multitude of emcees of sub-Saharan African heritage based in the diaspora, her two identities are on display in her performances. The two unique identities of Kween G, Ugandan and Australian, visible when the music video of her song Speak Up is analyzed.

The music video commences with Kween G saying “Straight out the Nile, I am on my Queen S***” with an image of arid land, presumably in North Africa on display in the background. This statement could have two meanings that are up to the interpretation of the listener. The first, which is most likely at the forefront of the minds of her Australian listeners, is that she is making a reference to the Nile river in Egypt, which millennia ago had a rich culture of royalty, therefore corelating with her stage-name Kween. The other could be a reference to her Ugandan roots, as the base of the Nile river in Lake Victoria is located in central Uganda.

As the video continues, a number of images and graphics present themselves form which the viewer could construct a variety of interpretations. One of the main aspects of the video that is up to an array of interpretations is the chorus of the song in which Kween G repeats “Speak Up Where is the Leader”, followed by “Fight Back No Rulers Will Defeat Us.” Simultaneously, images of multiple revolutions including the Arab Spring and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States are displayed in the background.

It is evident that this scene has a political nature to it, but the specifics of it are very much left up to the determination of the viewer. For instance, one could see it as a reference to the issue of police brutality and racism that exist in Australia, and this is likely what many of Kween G’s viewers in the country could see it as. At the same time, many could see such lyrics and imagery as a tribute to the historical fight against colonialism in sub-Saharan Africa, or expressing solidarity with ongoing movements against authoritarian governments in Africa.

The various ways in which the lyrics in Kween G’s song can be interpreted by various audiences are emblematic of how she approaches being a Ugandan rapper in the diaspora. In fact, by constructing her music in a way that those in her current country of Australia, and her native country of Uganda can boith enjoy, she effectively addresses some of the most pressing challenges facing emcees in the African diaspora today.

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