Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

'Are Real Women Just Bad Porn?': Women in Nigerian Hip-Hop Culture

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

'Are Real Women Just Bad Porn?': Women in Nigerian Hip-Hop Culture

Article excerpt

Introduction

David Wolper, in an interview about his production of the Los Angeles Olympic ceremonies stated: "we are going to have lots of music, because music is the United States' gift to the world" (24). This statement shows the overwhelming influence of American music on music of other world cultures. The last two decades have witnessed tremendous growth in the Hip-hop music culture in Nigeria. Numerous studies have equally demonstrated the significant rise and development of the genre among the youth. (Omoniyi, 2008; Omojola, 2006; Ssewakiryanga, 1999). Because of its enormous appeal, it has also been used as a medium for expressing a variety of ideas, feelings, and emotions. However, there has been a growing concern on the negative impact of the music on the perception of women in the society. In spite of the seeming financial success and popularity of the musicians, hip-hop culture is frequently condemned for its misogynistic exploitation of women.

This paper examines the misogynistic ideologies expressed in Nigeria's Hip-hop and rap and its implication on the larger society. It will also examine the effects Hip-hop lyrics and videos (which contains images of women in sexually subordinate roles) on the youths, stemming from its focus and promotion of sex, drugs, crime and misogyny.

Theoretical Concepts

The theory of inter-culturation and trans-culturation is used as the framework for this study. Inter-culturation is the formation of a new culture based on encounters from multiple cultures interacting together (Gault 15). This is significant today for social theorists working outside their cultural boundaries for interpreting the dynamics of cultural change globally. The term transculturation was coined in the 1940s by sociologist Fernando Oritz to describe the process by which a conquered people choose and select what aspects of the dominant culture they will assume (Pratt 589).The development of popular music over the years is hinged on cultural changes which, according to Hall are the product of "negotiation, resistance and transformation" (23). This statement was also corroborated by Said who stated that "All cultures are involved in one another. None is single and pure. All are hybrid, heterogeneous, extraordinarily differentiated and unmonolithic." (45). Rice identified two categories of musicians in world music--those who seek to strategically position themselves as locally authentic and those who seek to embody or reconnect with ethnic or national traditions and histories (151). He however stressed that there are those who seek to become transnational performers or, at best, seek to resist any sense of bounded or fixed identity (Rice 157). Of this group, in my opinion, is the position of Nigerian Hip-hop music.

Hip-hop culture evolved from the United States of America. However, the concept has found its way into developing countries as a result of acculturation which introduced new styles and communities of taste, negotiating cultural differences through the musical manipulation of symbolic associations (Waterman 47). Consequently, the changes reflect new contexts, technologies, opportunities and performing situations.

Origins of Hip-hop

There are several positions on the origin of Hip-hop. On the evolution of Hip-hop music, Kevin Powell states that "Hip-hop's roots are not Jamaican, nor Puerto Rican, nor African-American, but African (Powell 2010). This was further substantiated by Keyes who observed that "the distinctive vocal techniques employed in rapping can be traced from African bardic traditions to rural southern game songs and allied forms--all of which are chanted in a rhyme or poetic fashion" (40). However the conceptualization of the present day Hip-hop phenomenon originated in New York during the early 1970's as a form of African American street culture (Bernett 78).

Aware of the inner city tension that were being created as a consequence of urban renewal programs and economic recession, a street gang member, who called himself AfrikaBambaaka, formed Zulu Nation on an attempt to channel the anger of young people in the South Bronx away from fighting into music, dance and graffiti (Lipseitz 26). …

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