African Hip-Hop by Issys Russell


Hip Hop originated in New York around the 1970s. It became very influential throughout the country and it didn’t take long for it to be heard internationally. Hip hop and rap in Africa originated in the 1980s. It was mainly in south Africa and west Africa. Throughout the years, African Hip Hop & Rap has grown and developed. People in the US didn’t really listen to African music in general but recently African hip hop and r&b has become popularized. 


There isn’t much lyricism in Africa that doesn’t have to do with politics.  Most artists from South Africa usually care about lyricism because that is where most political issues are rapped about.  The lyricism is dying down in all of Africa, but people from South Africa are pushing it.  DJs and hip-hop journalists write about keeping it alive because of its importance.  Lyrical importance in general African hip hop is the same if not less important than in American hip hop.  Dialect in African hip-hop is much more influential in American hip-hop.  In Africa, lyrics are meaningful to only a certain extent.  African dialect makes the song.  Catchiness, lyricism, and visuals, like the music video and cover art, are the top 3 factors for an African hip-hop or African song to get general attention domestically and internationally.


Cultural Impact

African hip-hop is very influential in Africa and America. With the type of beats African hip hop uses, afro beats, there has been an increase of afro beats in America’s entertainment industry. Artists like Davido, Tems, and Burna Boy got a lot of recognition in America as African hip-hop and R&B artists. Lyricism didn’t matter with their songs, but the actual catchiness and the way it was said and on the beat were different. I know that isn’t a “hip-hop” song, but a recent trend of popularizing upbeat Afro beats in America. Another cultural impact that African hip hop made is just the simple fact of American people listening to African people in general. Africa used to be looked at as not on the same level as America because of what the media had put there of Africa. Foreigners looked down upon Africa and its culture and have been since slavery honestly. Many people jumped on “Africa’s bandwagon” when their music got popularized in America. For example, Burna Boy recently said in an interview that people don’t find African men attractive. It wasn’t until his songs blew up internationally that people started considering darker-skinned men like him, Davido, Sarkodie, and Nasty C attractive. Of course, people aren’t going to listen to unattractive rappers, so African male hip-hop artists recently earned a female audience internationally.


Fashion in Africa has its own mind. There isn’t much wardrobe worn in Africa that isn’t worn in America and that has influenced hip hop across the world. Africans just wore what they usually wore in their everyday lifestyles. If there was With female African hip hop artists, they wear waistbeads and that influenced girls to wear waistbeads in America. But that trend didnt start in African hiphop, that was just apart of African culture that African female artists started to do just because that’s what they were already wearing because of their culture. That was what was regular. African wardrobe and patterns were sewn into regular clothes like jeans and hats to show off thier countries. 


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