African Hip Hop

This week I thought I’d try something a little different, inspired by some links I came across on Twitter.  Earlier this week, John Edwin Mason tweeted a story from The Guardian featuring five African musical acts to watch in 2015.  Three of the five acts featured in this article were either hip hop acts or heavily influenced by hip hop.  Reading this story made me think about the huge number of artists that are virtually unheard of here in the United States, but enjoy large followings throughout Africa and the diaspora.  Many of these talents are featured on African Hip Hop, the focus of this week’s post.

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This site first appeared in 1997 under the name Rumba-Kali Home of African Hip Hop (the remains of the original site are available here).  It’s original focus was, and continues to be, on “unifying everybody who’s inspired by hip hop and by the cultures of Africa and of African origins.”  While at different points in time the site was sponsored by organizations like the Madunia Foundation, the Africa Server or This Is Africa, currently the site is independently run by a team of contributors spread throughout both the continent and the diaspora.  These contributors present a range of stories, from posts on recent hip hop releases to music videos to feature stories with more substantial content.  Readers can explore the history of Nigerian hip hop or a critical appraisal of American artists using African nations as backdrops in their videos or hip hop’s role as a political tool in Gabon.  Though the site isn’t updated on a regular basis with stories of this type, there is a lot already available and it’s definitely worth exploring.

In addition to individual blog posts, the site hosts regular columns, including The Hip-Hoppreneur by Cedric Muhammad on the business side of things and Bottom Juice by MissJackee which focuses on new sounds from the continent.  Africanhiphop.com also hosts several monthly radio shows, including the newly launched Africa Is Hot and African Hip Hop Radio.  The team producing African Hip Hop Radio consists of presenters from sixteen different countries, providing a broad range of musical selections.  You can listen to the first episode of Africa Is Hot below.

There are also several documentary projects linked to the site, including Hali Halisi: Rap as an Alternative Medium in Tanzania and a series of videos from Nomadic Wax on Global Hip Hop Culture, hosted by Zimbabwe Legit’s Dumi Right.  Finally, in addition to enjoying music and content on the site, a number of mixtapes have been made available for download, including songs from Ghanaian artist Blitz the Ambassador and Gambian-American Say-hu.  Such a wide range of perspectives and so many different styles of hip hop are collected on this site, making it a phenomenal resource for not only learning about African hip hop but also exposing more listeners to these infectious sounds.

This project is entirely independent, so the creators invite any one with information on the development of hip hop in Africa to contribute any materials or stories that they might have.  You can contact the team via this form.  You can also follow African Hip Hop on Twitter (@africanhiphop.com) and Facebook.

As always, feel free to send me suggestions in the comments or via Twitter of sites you might like to see covered in future editions of The Digital Archive!  We’ve been getting some good suggestions from readers that will be reviewed soon!

 

Liz Timbs

PhD Candidate in History at Michigan State University, Studying gendered ethnic identity amongst Zulu-speaking people. Advocate for Digital Humanities.

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