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Hip Hop Africa

New African Music in a Globalizing World

Edited by Eric Charry

Publication Year: 2012

Hip Hop Africa explores a new generation of Africans who are not only consumers of global musical currents, but also active and creative participants. Eric Charry and an international group of contributors look carefully at youth culture and the explosion of hip hop in Africa, the embrace of other contemporary genres, including reggae, ragga, and gospel music, and the continued vitality of drumming. Covering Senegal, Mali, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and South Africa, this volume offers unique perspectives on the presence and development of hip hop and other music in Africa and their place in global music culture.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: African Expressive Cultures


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This book has its origins in a roundtable entitled “New Music, New Research: Youth, Western Africa, and the Outside World,” which was part of the 2003 African Studies Association annual meeting in Boston, whose theme was “Youthful Africa in the 21st Century.” The enthusiastic reception suggested that we expand our scope into the resulting book. ...

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A Capsule History of African Rap

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pp. 1-26

The notion that rap has arrived home, in Africa, common in much rhetoric both inside and outside Africa, demands investigation. African rap artists get little international respect. Representing the inspirational homeland, Africans can find a small audience abroad, but there is hardly any competing in the international marketplace in that role. ...

Part 1. Rap Stories (Ghana and South Africa)

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1. The Birth of Ghanaian Hiplife: Urban Style, Black Thought, Proverbial Speech

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pp. 29-56

Amid the political frustrations and economic transitions of 1980s Ghana, American rap music became the latest African diasporic music to become popular with urban African youth. In Accra clubs, DJs began playing American rappers such as LL Cool J, Heavy D, Public Enemy, and later Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. ...

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2. A Genre Coming of Age: Transformation, Difference, and Authenticity in the Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture of South Africa

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pp. 57-76

As dominant elements in rap music are often attributed to Africa (e.g., Keyes 1996), I see South African rap music and hip hop as a diasporic genre at home— in Africa— but also as a genre having many homes.1 Within these many homes claims to authenticity are expressively mobilized and contested. ...

Part 2. Griots and Messengers (Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, and Malawi)

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3. The Rapper as Modern Griot: Reclaiming Ancient Traditions

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pp. 79-91

What happens when hip hop, with its indisputable African American roots, returns to Africa? The past decade has seen an explosion of hip hop culture throughout Africa. Scholars and journalists often invoke the idea of the rapper as a “modern griot,” linking rap to the ancient traditions of West African verbal artists or “masters of the word.” ...

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4. Promises of the Chameleon: Reggae Artist Tiken Jah Fakoly’s Intertextual Contestation of Power in Côte d’Ivoire

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pp. 92-108

In this chapter I explore the intertextual artistry of Ivorian reggae musician Tiken Jah Fakoly’s 2000 song “Promesses de Caméléon” [Promises of the Chameleon]. I analyze elements of this song that reveal Fakoly’s strategic choices, choices that contribute to the song’s effectiveness in contesting political power. ...

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5. Style, Message, and Meaning in Malawian Youth Rap and Ragga Performances

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pp. 109-126

Rap music from the United States and ragga from Jamaica feature prominently on the youth cultural landscape of Malawi.1 As imported urban dance-oriented music with strong global connections to youth demographics, these two genres hold cosmopolitan appeal for Malawian youth. This appeal manifests locally in two important components of rap and ragga culture in Malawi, ...

Part 3. Identity and Hybridity (Mali and Nigeria)

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6. Mapping Cosmopolitan Identities: Rap Music and Male Youth Culture in Mali

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pp. 129-146

Over the past fifteen years, street life in urban Mali has come to pulsate to the word-rhythms of rap. Even though various musical styles enjoy great popularity among young urbanites, it is rap that has achieved a privileged status among many male adolescents, particularly in the capital Bamako.1 ...

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7. Nigerian Hip Hop: Exploring a Black World Hybrid

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pp. 147-168

Throughout the twentieth century, there was a dynamic two-way crossing of cultural influences between Africa and her diasporic people. Economist Roger Wallis and musicologist Krister Malm (1987: 118), in their study of popular music, conclude that many small countries that have become marginal markets for international products are also sources of new raw material. ...

Part 4. East Coast (Kenya and Tanzania)

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8. The Local and Global in Kenyan Rap and Hip Hop Culture

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pp. 171-186

In 1996 I was invitied by a bossa nova musician to participate on his album by rapping in Kiswahili alongside a Brazilian rapper invoking Angola using a genre known as maracatu. The idea in part was to demonstrate the reciprocal interconnections that have marked developments of popular music between the African continent and its diaspora. ...

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9. Imitation and Innovation in the Music, Dress, and Camps of Tanzanian Youth

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pp. 187-208

The imitation of foreign music has been central to the formation of several Tanzanian popular music genres. In the late 1800s, taarab, a genre that imitated Egyptian song, appeared as royal court music in Zanzibar. In the 1920s, dansi, a form of upbeat dance music that remains popular in Tanzania, originated as a form of ballroom dance music for expatriate Europeans living in Tanganyika. ...

Part 5. Popular Music Panoramas (Ghana and Malawi)

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10. Contemporary Ghanaian Popular Music since the 1980s

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pp. 211-233

The development of Ghanaian transcultural popular dance music from its origins in the 1880s can be divided into three broad historical epochs. First, as a result of colonialism there was, in southern Ghana, the introduction of foreign regimental brass band music, the classical and ballroom music of Western orchestras, and the guitar and accordion music of foreign seamen. ...

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11. Popular Music and Young Male Audiences in Contemporary Malawi

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pp. 234-258

In this chapter I examine the contemporary and neo-traditional music traditions in Malawi that came into vogue shortly after the rule of long-term president H. K. Banda (1964–1994), with special emphasis on their themes as expressed in the lyrics.1 I begin by discussing recent developments in the dissemination of music via the Malawian mass media, ...

Part 6. Drumming (Mali)

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12. Urban Drumming: Traditional Jembe Celebration Music in a West African City (Bamako)

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pp. 261-282

Jembe music today represents a global cultural good. Over the past half a century, thousands of professional players have proved innovative and successful in urban and transnational music markets. Contrary to common categorizations of African drum and dance performance genres as essentially rural and pre-modern ...

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Music for an African Twenty-First Century

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pp. 283-316

With such an enormous reputation and legacy as the home of a global diaspora that has so powerfully impacted the lives of so many of the planet’s inhabitants, one might expect that Africa’s artists would have larger worldwide recognition. But this is not the case. Perhaps doomed by its role as the motherland, ...

Bibliography and Online Sources

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pp. 317-348


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pp. 349-360


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pp. 361-364


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pp. 365-366

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List of Contributors

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pp. 367-370

Eric Charry is Associate Professor of Music at Wesleyan University. He has published extensively on music in Africa, including Mande Music: Traditional and Modern Music of the Maninka and Mandinka of Western Africa (2000). He wrote the introduction to Babatunde Olatunji’s autobiography ... ...


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pp. 371-390

E-ISBN-13: 9780253005823
E-ISBN-10: 0253005825
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253003072

Page Count: 404
Illustrations: 14 b&w illus., 1 music exx.
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: African Expressive Cultures
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 813844885
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Hip Hop Africa

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Music and globalization -- Africa.
  • Music and youth -- Africa.
  • Hip hop -- Africa.
  • Popular music -- Africa -- History and criticism.
  • Rap (Music) -- Africa -- History and criticism.
  • Popular music -- Social aspects -- Africa.
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