Hip hop music has been popular in the East African region ever since the 1980s because of the very popular American influence. In the year 1985 hip hop came to East Africa; what's more, graffiti and break dance also became popular and emceed as a trend started in the year 1989. Most of the Hip Hop in East and the entirety of the African continent are encouraged by the Kora Music Awards. Early and current East African Hip Hop is imitative to the rap style used in the United States of America; as such the musicians wear American clothes and rap in the English language. Of late, said influence is promoted by access to YouTube and the internet at large.
All the same, it is worth mentioning that the East African region has not fully embraced the American Hip Hop style but has rather appropriated the genre; bringing about a creation of its distinct version. Hip hop exploded in the East African region in the 90s; East African hip hop is at the moment performed and written not only in American English but also in the Swahili language. Sheng, which is a combination of English, Swahili, and myriad native languages, is also used to a great extent.
Many topics and societal issues are talked about in East African hip hop. The youth involved tend to sing about life of the streets, life on the fast lane, poverty, worth ethic i.e. hustle', politics, corruption, relationships, responsibility to self and to the community, and a genre of hip-hop that focuses on feuds and pseudo feuds where artistes make a choice of releasing dis' tracks. Other issues that the lyrics address include HIV and Aids awareness, making money, societal injustices among other things (Eisenberg, 2014).
Within the East African realm the most popular artists and groups include Professor Jay, Necessary Noize (a Hip Hop group started by Nazis and Wyre The Lovechild, Kalamashaka, Ukoo Flani Mau Mau, Top in Dar that is, TID , TMK Wanaume, Darassa, Redsun, Juma Nature, Gidi Gidi Maji Maji, Mejja, and Jose Chameleonaire among others.
A majority of the artists see their purpose in society as that of being a voice of the people. Most of these artists perceive hip-hop to be an avenue that talks about the good, the bad, and the ugly in the society. This is to mean that these artists use hip-hop in the same way as oral literature and literature at large are used to talk about societal virtue and vices. As such the artists take part or rather engage in mostly political change in their lyrics and to a minor extent social change. The reasons artists choose to sing about this issue is because most of the politicians in the region promise grandiose things during campaign periods only to do so little for the people. In many ways than one these artists choose to be activists at some point (Richardson & Pough, 2016). The rich and affluent ones contribute to the local communities by sponsoring charity events, children homes, charity races, building schools, and the construction of hospitals among other things.
It is quite noteworthy that other artists do not engage in serious political and social change matters, they choose only to be proponents of urban vibes and the fun that comes along with it. Artists that have been known to stick to the Hip Hop script and not be proponents of social change in East Africa include Abbas Kubaff, TID, Kaligraph Jones, Octopizzo, Vanessa Mdee, Muthoni The Drama Queen, and Timmy Dat among others.
Concerning the aesthetics of the performance, there is need to say that the artists have maintained the original hip hop culture of using video vixens in their video clips and the use of breakdancing on the part of male dancers. The very essence of all these efforts is to make the videos visually appealing to all the audiences. Most of the artists and hip hop rappers at large have a habit of throwing banknotes everywhere in their voice clips and parading sleek and expensive cars as a statement. As above mentioned, East African artists use Sheng, English, and Swahili as part of the flow and language of the songs. Hip Hop artists have also been proponents of using tattoos as fashion statements; this makes fanatics also to get tattoos for themselves. One thing that is weighing hip hop music down is piracy; piracy takes away the proceeds that are rightfully the belonging of artists. Attempts to get rid of piracy in East Africa have not been very successful, and most of the artists benefit from live shows (Hall, 2015).
In a nutshell, hip hop has grown a great deal in East Africa and is still on the verge of dynamism. American and other artists from overseas have collaborated with artists from the region, and this is a surefire way of telling how Hip Hop is dynamic in East Africa. Early and current East African Hip Hop is imitative to the rap style used in the United States of America; as such the musicians wear American clothes and rap in the English language.
Eisenberg, A. J. (2014). Eric Charry, ed. Hip Hop Africa: New African Music in a Globalizing World. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012. x+ 390 pp. Graphs. Maps. Photographs. Notes. Bibliography. Discography. Videography. Webography. Index. $35.00. Paper. African Studies Review, 57(03), 238-240.
Eisenberg, A. J. (2014). Hip Hop Africa: New African Music in a Globalizing World ed. by Eric Charry (review). African Studies Review, 57(3), 238-240.
Hall, P. A. (2015). Soul to Soul: Hip Hop, Globalization, and Africa. In Globalization and Socio-Cultural Processes in Contemporary Africa (pp. 229-273). Palgrave Macmillan US.
Richardson, E., & Pough, G. (2016). Hiphop literacies and the globalization of Black popular culture.
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