Hip Hop Africa: New African Music in a Globalizing World

Hip Hop Africa: New African Music in a Globalizing World

Hip Hop Africa: New African Music in a Globalizing World

Hip Hop Africa: New African Music in a Globalizing World


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.


Eric Charry

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. Here thirteen authors carefully look at and listen to what young Africans are doing in the realm of music. They are an international group of scholars from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Germany, and the United States. Nine countries are examined: Senegal and Mali in the Muslim western sahel and savanna; Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria along the southern coast of West Africa; Kenya and Tanzania on the Swahili coast in the east; Malawi in the heart of central Africa; and South Africa, with the most significant multiracial and white minority communities and racially polarized past. the Mediterranean Arabtinged Muslim north is unfortunately missing here.

The approaches herein are diverse, including focusing on single artists or pieces (Tang, Reed), broad overviews (Charry, Watkins, Collins, Seebode), a balance between the two approaches (Shipley, Fenn, Schulz, Shonekan, Kidula, Perullo), and intensive participatory ethnography (Polak). While the bulk of the contributions here cover hip hop and are responsible for the title of the book, the inclusion of reggae and ragga (Reed, Fenn, Seebode), gospel music (Kidula, Collins), and especially drumming (Polak) adds a unique comparative dimension. the variety of approaches and musics make for a rich story of how recent generations of Africans are making sense of the world around them.

The countries covered in this book are in many ways representative of Africa, although, to be sure, they each have their own identities. the most populous country (Nigeria) and the country with the biggest economy (South Africa) in Africa are covered here. the countries with strong international reputations for hip hop are here (Senegal, Tanzania) as is Malawi, which has a minimal presence. Kenya, where politics and rap have been closely intertwined; Côte d’Ivoire, where a reggae song sent an artist into exile; Ghana, with its close ties to the United States and the UK; and Mali, where drumming traditions thrive in an urban environment, are all present.

The following table shows some statistics that may be helpful in grasping the economic and demographic standing of these countries, both within Africa and . . .

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