Hip Hop as Social Commentary in Accra and Dar es Salaam
by Msia Kibona Clark
This paper looks at the use of African hip hop as social commentary in Accra, Ghana and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Hip hop is by its definition a tool of self-expression and self-definition, and is often used as a tool of resistance. Young artists are using the platform of hip hop to speak out on a host of social and economic issues. A transcontinental conversation is now happening with artists all over Africa and the Diaspora. This paper focuses on the hip hop communities in Accra, Ghana and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Both nations have hip hop communities in which socially conscious hip hop is marginalized. In addition, the histories of these two nations are linked by their histories as battlegrounds in the struggle for Pan Africanism, non-alignment, and socialist ideals. These factors have influenced the use of hip hop for social commentary in both cities. This examination of hip hop in Accra and Dar es Salaam reveals important conversations occurring around politics and economics, on both a national and international level. Hip hop artists and the youth they represent are an important component of any social or political struggle towards progress. This research contributes to the need to engage with African hip hop culture and understand its growing implications for Africa.
Msia Kibona Clark is Assistant Professor, Department of Pan African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles and has a research focus on African migrations, Africa/African American relations, and African hip hop expressions. Her work has been published in both scholarly and non-scholarly sources. She is also a special correspondent for allAfrica.com, covering the African hip hop scene.