The podcast features discussions on African hip hop music & culture. The podcast is produced & hosted by Msia Kibona Clark and students in the Department of African Studies at Howard University and students in the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. You can access all of our podcasts and blog posts on hip hop in Africa at www.hiphopafrican.com.
HHAP Episode 60: The Dope Saint Jude Episode
Dope Saint Jude is a South African hip hop artist who was born and raised Cape Town. A former Political Science student at the University of Cape Town, she started her hip hop career in 2011 as a drag king. Her drag king persona was Saint Dude, and resembled rapper Lil Wayne. After releasing several singles, Dope Saint Jude’s first EP, Reimagine, was released in 2016, Her second project, Resilient, was released in 2018. It included the song "Grrrl Like”, which opens this episode and has been one of her biggest hits. The song was also featured in the teaser for the Netflix original series Blood & Water https://youtu.be/OV9Ma4F_xyA. Dope Saint Jude has also performed at Afropunk, been featured in Vogue & Marie Claire, and been part of major advertising campaigns.
In this conversation we discuss the social relevance of her music. Well versed in the politics of intersectionality, Dope Saint Jude is very intentional in what she does. In her music she weaves intersecting identities into lyrics that challenge listeners to reconsider their ideas about who they think Black, Coloured, queer South African hip hop women should be.
You can find Dope Saint Jude's music on streaming platforms. She is also online at dopesaintjude.com, twitter.com/DopeSaintJude, instagram.com/dopesaintjude, and youtube.com/channel/UCdGiyFXiSgtTCXu1AGUeK3A.
For more scholarship on Dope Saint Jude's work:
Chapters 24 "Queering Hip Hop, queering the city: Dope Saint Jude’s transformative politics" by Adam Haupt and 29 "Building an international profile as an artist" by Dope Saint Jude, Blaq Pearl, Black Athena, Jean-Pierre, Lyrical Deezy with Emile YX? in Haupt, Adam, Williams, Quentin, Alim, Samy H., Jansen, Emile. (2019).
Clark, Msia Kibona. (2018). Feminisms in African hip hop. Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, 17 (2), 383-400.Continue reading
HHAP EPISODE 59: Moonaya on Dakar’s hip hop collectives, hip hop Pan Africanism, & Western imperialism in Africa.
Moonaya is an extremely talented MC in one of the strongest hip hop scenes in the world. A Pan Africanist, her background represents her political views. Moonaya is originally from Benin, but she grew up in Senegal. While her father is Senegalese, her mother is Togolese, and one of her grandmothers was Nigerian. She grew up in a musical home where she heard a range of African music, as well as music from across the Diaspora. While she went to school to study law, she’s been writing hip hop music for almost 20 years. Her debut album, A Fleur 2 Mo was released in 2009. Her more recent project, the EP Petit Oiseau, was released in 2019. In 2017, she became the 1st Senegalese artist to sign with Sony.
Over the years, her music has dealt with a range of topics. In “J’déprim” (I’m Depressed) she discusses the impacts of depression, in "Il est temps” (It’s Time) she talks about Pan Africanism and Black liberation, and in the song “Qui” (Who?) she samples Malcolm X’s speech and talks about self hatred and Black peoples.
Moonaya also spoke a lot about European, American, and even Chinese imperialism in Africa. She spoke about the exploitation of Africa’s resources, European hands in African conflicts, and the continued colonial relationship between France and francophone Africa. She also spoke about the struggles being faced by Black people all over the world.
"We are the richest continent, but we are the poorest people, and this is not normal!"
In this interview we also discussed the hip hop scene in Senegal. Senegal has a few women’s hip hop collectives, which have served as a resource for artists willing to work to build their careers. Moonaya talked about her experiences with these collectives as well as how helpful they have been to other artists. We also discussed the influences on her work, especially the growth of her own social and political consciousness.
We also discussed the role of Western researchers in Senegal. Senegal has one of the most researched hip hop scenes, outside of the United States. Most of these researchers are White, and come from Europe and the US. A lot of the research that is produced on Senegalese hip hop is problematic. There are some American researchers, like Catherine Appert and Colleen Neff, who have done extensive work on hip-hop in Senegal, and have also pointed out the problematic ways that other Western researchers have written about hip hop in Senegal.
Often because of language, Black scholars often choose to go to anglophone countries, and few do work in Senegal. Moonaya and I talked about the fact that more Black scholars need to go to Senegal, and we discussed some of the ways to overcome the language barriers: Hire a translator! While there is tons of scholarship on Senegalese hip hop, there is a need for scholarship on hip hop’s Pan African connections in Senegal. On how through hip hop culture, the Senegalese are in conversation with the African Diaspora.
To hear more of Moonaya’s music, she is on social media in all of the usual places:
Hip Hop African Podcast Episode 58: The Tanzanian and Diaspora Artists Behind The Lounge Tanzania Mixtape
The Lounge Tanzania Mixtape Volume 1 is a project that brings together Tanzanian and Diaspora singers, rappers, and poets. The project features artists that are internationally known, as well as artists just starting their careers.
In this conversation with seven of the artists, we talk about the evolution of the project and how the project reflects hip hop and popular culture in Tanzania. We also discussed the message the project sends to the music industry in Tanzania, which has tended to only promote one style of music.
We talked about the collaboration between English and Swahili performing artists, the lack of East Africa representation in recent projects like Black Panther and the Lion King, and how this project shows East Africa's engagement in Pan African projects as well.
The seven artists interviewed in this episode are
Mike Tareto/IG: @miketareto
Joe Legendary/IG: @joelegendary
Fete Jen/IG: fete_jen
Ronny aka Ty Charls/IG: @ronnycharlz
Mex Cortez/IG: mex.tz
FG Tony/IG: @fg__tony
The episode begins with "Tougher" by Lo SayAloha Ski and Mex Cortez and "Wale Wale" by Zenji Boy. The episode ends with "No Time For Trash" by Mex Cortez.
The video version of this episode can be found on our YouTube Channel
The mixtape can currently be streamed on the following platform:
The artists on the project are
Lo SayAloha Ski
HHAP Episode 57: Octopizzo on Hip Hop, Refugees, and POlice Brutality in Kenya
An MC, activist, and actor, Octopizzo was born in Nairobi, in the notorious Kibera slums, one of the largest slums in the world. His mixtape and album releases include: The Come Up V 1 (2008; Mixtape), El Classico (2014; Mixtape), Chocolate City (2014; album), LDPC (2015; album), Refugeenius (2016, album), and Next Year (2018; album).
He addresses a lot of social issues, including poverty, ethnic tensions, corruption, and the legalization of marijuana. He is also one of the few MCs to seriously and consistently address the issues around refugees. Kenya is home to a lot of refugees from surrounding conflicts, including people fleeing violence in the Congo, Sudan and Somalia.
On the album Refugeenius he collaborated with 20 Refugees from Kakuma & Dadaab Refugee camps in Kenya.
Octopizzo is the founder of the youth group Y.G.B. (Young, Gifted, and Black), which is a collective of MCs, poets, graffiti artists, graphic artists, and dancers. He founded his not-for-profit Octopizzo Foundation in 2015 and through the Foundation, he tries to use culture and sports to reach the youth.
More recently he has joined other activists addressing police brutality in Kenya, and drawing parallels between police violence in Kenya & the US. Recently he was involved in protests in front of the US embassy in Nairobi, holding up a sign of people killed and injured by the police. Recently, there have ben reports of over a dozen deaths at the hands of the Kenyan police supposedly trying to enforce a dusk to dawn curfew put in place to slow the spread of Corona.
The songs featured in the episode are “Nu Afrika” in the opening and “Another Day” in the closing.
Octopizzo can be found at: http://octopizzo.com/ | @OCTOPIZZO on Twitter & Instagram
The video version of this episode is on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/ZOu5ILtZ-VcContinue reading
HHAP Episode 56: Lord Ekomy Ndong on Gabonese Hip-Hop & French Politics
Lord Ekomy Ndong, has been a leading voice in the African hip hop scene since 1990, when he founded the Gabonese group Movaizhaleine. Movaizhaleine's 1999 debut album was Mission Mbeng. He released his 1st solo album, L’Afrikain, in 2003. It is considered by many to be a hip-hop classic. Over his career, he has done collaborations with several artists, and released numerous studio albums.
Around the time of the 2009 elections in Gabon, Lord Ekomy Ndong released the singles “300”, “809” and “Engongol” (What a Shame). The songs were critical of both corruption in Africa, and of France’s controversial presence in Africa.
In 2011, with his 11th studio album, Ibogaine, he once again took shots at France. In the song “Questoins Noires” (Black Questions), he talks directly to French President Nicholas Sarkozy about France’s military presence in Africa. His 2017 album, La Théorie Des Cordes (A Theory of Cords), he reflects on the global protests that took place in the Gabonese diaspora around the 2016 election in the song “Sur mon Drapeau” (By My Flag).
In this interview, we spoke about his career and hip-hop culture in Gabon. We also spoke about France’s occupation of Africa, and the implications of that occupation. We also talked about his outspokenness, and the price paid by musicians who speak out against corruption and politics.
This past May, he released the album Petit Mutant Dans son Coin which can be found on online streaming platforms.
The video of this interview can be found on The Hip Hop African YouTube channel. Continue reading
Mixtape: In the Pocket: South Africa’s Spittas
South Africa is almost indisputably leading the pack right now in terms of quality hip-hop music produced on the continent. South African rappers, more so than any other African rappers I’ve researched, have that distinct level of lyrical ability and production quality which makes hip-hop great. In an article highlighting some of the top African Hip-hop artists, Joey Akan says that “the power of hip-hop lies in the South of the continent, as rappers from South Africa continue to drive the pulse of the culture. Much of the hip-hop in South Africa is derived from Western beats and samples mixed with localized rhythms and accents and drives the urban culture of the continent.” As I dove into the discography of different South African artists, I could almost immediately identify an American hip-hop song that I felt it paralleled. Some artists rapped over more mainstream style beats, whether it’s upbeat with African drums or bouncy r&b vibes. Most artists in this mix rap in their native languages- including Zulu, Swahili, and Xhosa. They mix in AAVE fluently. Sometimes verses will be all English. There are different factors that determine what language an artist speaks. Most of the time, it is just what depends on how they are most comfortable delivering the message. In the case of more mainstream artists, they will rap/sing in English to reach larger audiences. In All of the songs I selected for this mixtape, I felt the artists were right “in the pocket” in their verses. Being “in the pocket” in both music and dance means to be rhythmically in sync and fluid. Each of these songs I felt had complex cadences, fluid transitions, and essential elements of quality hip hop.
Speeka- “Party ya Mapantsula”
The first song on this mix of very talented South African artists is “Party ya Mapantsula” by Speeka featuring Noks Matchbox, Sfilikwane, Mthizo & Jef. Speeka is a well-known producer in South Africa who collabs with many rappers. Rappers are eager to hop on his beats. Most of the song is in Zulu and what sounds like some Xhosa- both are South African languages. Mapantsula is a Zulu slang term meaning petty gangsta. So the song title means Party with petty gangstas or Party of petty gangstas. The vibe of the songs parallels group songs by American artists like- “Mercy” which features Big Sean, Pusha T, 2chainz, and Kanye Wet, or “Down Bad” which features JID, J cole, Bas, and Nudy. “Party ya Mapantsula” takes on the general braggadocio style rap, where rappers talk their shit- explaining their come-up, lifestyle, and origins for 16 plus bars.
Next in the mix is Sfilikwane’s “Vandal’”. I selected this song purely because of the sonics. Most of the song is in Zulu, and does not have a translation online. However, Sfilikwane’s delivery and flow throughout the song is masterful. It stood out to me because I felt the execution was equal if not superior to that of American artists. The instrumental has an old school boom-bap vibe, but the lyric cadences are complex enough to make it sound modern. In other words, Sfilikwane was right in the pocket on this record. Many of the comments on this video read something including “uyakhafula” which means “You spittin”.
Sho Madjozi- “John Cena”
Sho Madjozi represents for the ladies on this mix with her song- “John Cena”. This song embodies that upbeat braggadocio style of rap, but with more of an identifiably African style beat. The song is mostly rapped in English. The hook goes, “ Some wanna act rough like John Cena, Some wanna get buck like John Cena! He use to be cool when I use to come through now you wanna act tough like John Cena!” She performed this song on the popular American internet music show- Colors. The performance got her mainstream recognition from artists like Missy Elliot and Pharell. I