Appendix 3A Overview of manuscript Hip Hop and Representation in Africa: Prophets of the City and Dustyfoot Philosophers

Kanyi (1)
Cover Image: Kanyi in Cape Town, South Africa 

My upcoming manuscript is entitled Hip Hop and Representation in Africa: Prophets of the City and Dustyfoot Philosophers and is being published with Ohio University Press, as part of their winter catalog. 

The book will be the first solo-authored book that looks at hip hop music and culture across the continent. The book is a result of several years of research and hours of reviewing music and videos. The book ties together my academic research on both hip hop and migration, with images I have taken, to present a discussion on hip hop as a form of cultural representation in Africa.

The book is an examination of hip hop as form of cultural representation in Africa. The book looks at the emergence of hip hop culture, and the fact that the history of hip hop in Africa has greatly influenced its use to represent marginalized voices, social movements, and identities. The presentation of counter narratives in African hip hop contributes to our understandings of culture and politics in Africa. The book takes a constructivist approach to cultural representation, arguing that cultural representations construct our understanding of society. In this sense, the hip hop culture produced by African artists helps to construct our understanding of politics, human rights, gender, migration, and identity.

Reggie Rockstone in Accra, Ghana

The book includes several color images taken by myself, of hip hop culture around Africa.

The book features a foreword by Dr. Quentin Williams, Senior Lecturer of Linguistics at University of Western Cape in South Africa. Dr. Williams is a respected well known scholar of South African hip hop. His work specializes in the relationship between language and identity in South African hip hop.

The book features an afterword by Dr. Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Professor of African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon. Dr. Ampofo is the former Director of the African Studies Institute at the University of Ghana and is an internationally known African feminist scholar who has written extensively on gender socialization and African feminist thought.

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Wanaitwa Uhuru in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

It was important to have contributions for the book from scholars in diverse fields, but whose work is closely related to the book. Themes of language and identity, and gender and sexuality, are woven throughout the book. It was honor to have contributions from Dr. Williams and Dr. Ampofo, who were the first and only scholars I approached for contributions.

Below is a chapter summary of the book

Chapter 1: “Boomerang”: Hip Hop & Pan African Dialogues

  • Links hip hop rhyme, storytelling, and drum patterns to rhyming, storytelling, and drum patterns in African culture, to suggest both continuity and an understanding of hip hop’s growth in Africa.
  • Defines hip hop in Africa vis-a-vis other forms of popular music in Africa, as well as U.S. hip hop.
  • Takes on the question of “authenticity” with an analysis of the employment of established hip hop rhyme schemes found in hip hop in Africa.
  • Argues the existence of a musical relationship between the continent and the US Diaspora, as well as within the continent, through the use of sampling and collaborations.

Chapter 2: “Understand Where I’m Coming From”: The Growth of African Hip Hop and Representations of African Culture       

  • Argues that economic and political events on the continent in the 1980s and 1990s led to the development and politicization of hip hop culture
  • Details the ways in which hip hop emerged as a tool to represent social dissonance
  • Presents hip hop as a cultural representation beyond the music, specifically the use graffiti, media (film, magazines, radio), and fashion as forms of cultural representations within hip hop culture.

Chapter 3: “Lettre à Mr Le Président”: Social and Political Representations: Protest v. Combat Literature    

  • Examines the varying relationships between the state and hip hop communities in Africa.
  • Uses Frantz Fanon’s analysis of protest and combat literature to examine the use of hip hop in social protest and social change in Africa.
  • Examines the role of hip hop in mobilizing for social and political change in the past 10 years.
  • Examines select social and human rights issues that hip hop artists in Africa have engaged through their music.

Chapter 4: “Femme de Combat”: Gendered Representations

  • Examines the cultural (local and global) environments in which female artists operate
  • Argues that the use of the hip hop tradition of braggadocio is used by artists to force a space for themselves in hip hop communities and serves to challenge ideas of femininity.
  • Argues that female artists present more nuanced representations of women and gendered social issues.
  • Examines the varying representations of female sexuality, sexual pleasure, and sexual identity by African female artists as legitimate representations of African womanhood.

Chapter 5: “Make You No Forget”: Representations of African migrant experiences in African

  • Argues that US based African artists represent post-2000 African migrant experiences that differ from previous waves of African migrants
  • Examines African migrant artists representations of alienation, ties to home, and transnationalism
  • Argues that Diaspora-based African hip hop artists present additional considerations in the debate over “Afropolitanism” as a cultural identity for contemporary, hyper-transnational African migrants.

Chapter 6: “Brkn Lngwjz”: Language, identity and cultural appropriation

  • Argues that the use of African American Vernacular English and the employment of code-switching by African migrant hip hop artists are representations of transnationalism among contemporary African migrants.
  • Argues that the ways in which hip hop artists use language to “represent” their identities speaks to variations in cultural identities and cultural competencies among African hip hop artists.