When Rick Ross went to South Africa and Gabon

For some odd reason the latest issue of The New Yorker ran a profile of rapper Rick Ross. Lots of good, clever writing by Sasha Frere Jones on familiar controversies about Ross (for example, Frere Jones calls Ross out for lying about his real life drug dealer exploits; show me the rapper who doesn’t make things up) and gratuitous breakdown of Ross’ mostly misogynistic lyrics. The oddest part was where the magazine encourages its readers to go and listen to Ross’s music on the New Yorker website. (Just imagine the reader.) Anyway, it reminded me of the two-part “vlog” (video blog) that Ross’s people produced of trips he took in 2011 to perform in South Africa and Gabon. This is part 1:

It’s a full 9 minutes of product placement, driving cars, scenes from a casino, screaming fans and Ross occasionally reminding people of his surroundings (“Johannesburg … one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been”). Here’s part 2, still titled with reference to South Africa, but which is really about his trip to Gabon and talking about the chicken pasta Kenya Airways served him (“that was love”) and how he thought Kilamanjaro was the name for weed.

Further Reading

A power crisis

Andre De Ruyter, the former CEO of Eskom, has presented himself as a simple hero trying to save South Africa’s struggling power utility against corrupt forces. But this racially charged narrative is ultimately self-serving.

Cinematic universality

Fatou Cissé’s directorial debut meditates on the uncertain fate and importance of Malian cinema amidst the growing dismissiveness towards the humanities across the world.

The meanings of Heath Streak

Zimbabwean cricketing legend Heath Streak’s career mirrors many of the unresolved tensions of race and class in Zimbabwe. Yet few white Zimbabwean sporting figures are able to stir interest and conversation across the nation’s many divides.


After winning Italy’s Serie A with Napoli, Victor Osimhen has cemented his claim to being Africa’s biggest footballing icon. But is the trend of individual stardom good for sports and politics?

The magic man

Chris Blackwell’s long-awaited autobiography shows him as a romantic rogue; a risk taker whose life compass has been an open mind and gift to hear and see slightly into the future.

How to think about colonialism

Contemporary approaches to the legacy of colonialism tend to narrowly emphasize political agency as the solution to Africa’s problems. But agency is configured through historically particular relations of which we are not sole authors.

More than just a flag

South Africa’s apartheid flag has been declared hate speech by a top court. But while courts are important and their judgments matter, racism is a long and internationally entrenched social phenomenon that cannot be undone via judicial processes.

Resistance is a continuous endeavor

For more than 75 years, Palestinians have organized for a liberated future. Today, as resistance against Israeli apartheid intensifies, unity and revolutionary optimism has become the main infrastructure of struggle.

Paradise forgotten

While there is much to mourn about the passing of legendary American singer and actor Harry Belafonte, we should hold a place for his bold statement-album against apartheid South Africa.