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Can hip hop change Africa?

August 8th, 2006 Posted in Events, General, Music, Politics

Krazy Native aka Saba SabaWhile many hip-hop fans in the US have started feeling that hip hop is dead, it’s becoming clearer that there is a totally different sentiment in other countries. A major reason for the pessimistic feeling of the US hip hop fans is the commercialization of hip hop culture and the preference for rap which, without the other hip hop elements (graffiti, breakdancing, dj-ing etc), loses all reference and meaning. Gone are the days when there was a balanced view of urban life through hip hop. As major media outlets have welcomed/accepted the art form many US artists have have become comfortable and have lost their focus. The hijacking of the rap element of hip-hop culture has resulted in corporations like Viacom (MTV, VH1) creating a rap culture which has no purpose and looks outside of itself for direction.

But take a trip to any major African country like Senegal and Kenya and you’ll find the music as it once was in the USA. Because of the newness of the music form to Africa and the growing accessibility of it, hip hop is now the voice of the new generation of Africans. What is amazing about the music is how the youth have begun to adapt and use it as a vehicle to change the world around them. More than an entertainment form hip hop is now the standard among young people and as they become more empowered, they put it in song. The accessibility of technologies like video, internet and mobile phones have provided them with the resources they need to connect to one another in real time and develop a unified voice. With all the problems that ail the continent the youth are attempting to make the much needed changes themselves.

I attended a forum last week at The Rotunda Gallery (Brooklyn, NY) put together by my friend Ben of Nomadic Wax records about this particular subject. The conversation was an excellent one with a panel featuring MC’s Chosan (Sierra Leone), Saba Saba aka Krazy Native (Uganda) and poet and activist Toni Blackman. What became evident through the discussion was that the African hip hop movement is a potent one which sees community and social issues as it’s focal point. African hip hop artists are taking the blueprint of US groups like Public Enemy, Eric B. and Rakim, and even Tupac Shakur mixing it with national pride and using it to push their community forward. A recent Reuters article discusses how Senegalese rappers have been able to influence government in the past. Whether by inspiring others or taking the reigns themselves, the artists are hopeful for a new Africa. But the question is will the art form survive the corporate and governmental assaults? I would hope so

Info:Spine Magazine

  • Pingback: Annansi Chronicles » Hip-hop and democracy in Senegal’s elections

  • Jeremiah

    hey man
    this jeremiah from cape town, south africa.im a final year student at the university of the western cape.glad to see that yo brothers in the states are realising the potential hip hop has on the social and political change of africa, and yes especially in places like senegal, angola ect. one thing that i can recognise here in the hip hop fields in cape town that there has been a split between conscious word and gangsta rap,im from the hood myself in mitchells plein, and hip hop as always symbolized a means for us black people to voise and naturalise being black. to give the youth the option to follow blackness and avoid neo colonial ideology that our ‘culture’ is necessarily bad.to destigmatize the way we speak, walk, give and take ;to make or youth decide to stop being marganilized,to choose ,not, power,but empowerment.keep up the word for the love blackness

  • http://www.annansi.com Kofi

    Jeremiah,
    thanks for your comment. Hip-hop in the USA is going through a major identity crisis right now, but it’s good to hear that the art still has it’s original meaning on the continent.

    I hope it maintains it’s integrity on the African continent.

  • http://africaincorp.blogspot.com Frederic Tape

    Would not one be led to think that music, the arts in general are a reflection of the people as well as the inner world of the artists.
    Hip Hop in the USA is probably where the cinsciouness of America is

    Hip Hop in Africa, as well as Coupe Decale, kizomba, Zouk,Zouglou, Hip- life, Kuduru, are probably where the consciouness of the consumers and creators, who most likely are shaped by the same values, ideologies, thought- patterns, is at the present time.

    Every Gender of music has always had a small percentage of its artists extremely aware of their social and cultural influence and actually exercicing conscious artistic responsabilities.
    this is actually more the case when the society from which the artists come from is no longer a society defined by absurdity, nonsense and straight up backward foolishness.

    Listen to the secular
    music of Ghana, Rwanda, Morocco, Mozambique, Angola,Ivory Coast,Uganda, Kenya,Barbados, Brazil, in 4
    to 10 years and you will see.
    Heck American Rappers like Jay Z, Nas,Kanye West, Pharrel even the Wu Tang is direct reflection of the different financial,social,cultueal,intellectual planes they have ascended.

  • ise

    this is ise from bamenda, cameroon.i study law in the university of yaounde 2.i am a strong upholder of the hip hop culture so you can call me chief.i really thank the brothers in the U S fr the great inspiring music they have been giving to us.it has changed so many lives here in cameroon.i am a rapper too, but i just do my thing in school or in the neighbourhood with my homies.i cant even dream of being a proffesional rapper because there are no promoters of hip hop here.matter of fact we have so many talented rappers here especiall in my town bamenda but we cant go no where so we just keep doing our thing any where we have the opportunity.but i have a deam to become a great inspiring rapper and to put in my work and money(when i start making it to support the yougsters who are coming up and i sebd this one out to all my frican brothers, SUPPORT HIP HOP IN AFRICA.

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