“Is hip hop, just a euphemism for a new religion, the soul music for the slaves that the youth is missing?”
Seven years after those bars were dropped, hip-hop has infiltrated the South African market to a point that for the first time we’re seeing our hip hop artists drive sports cars. The huge influx of money into S.A hip-hop can be loosely tracked back to the emergence of political party backed independent record labels. Led by the relatively young artists Emtee and Nasty C, the rise of hip hop in SA has almost been astronomic.
They say with great power comes great responsibility, in this case the responsibility in hip-hop is to its listeners. The average hip hop listener is between the ages of 12 and 35, the core of this market being the ages of 16 to 25. The music landscape of any genre is shaped by the ingenuity of the best artists in that genre, the rest will always follow the leaders. Two international examples of this are Nas in 1994 and Kanye West in the mid 2000’s, these two legends shaped the future to a point that in the 10 years that followed their arrival you could still hear their beliefs in other peoples music. The content of their music made it timeless beyond future sounds.
Can that be said of South Africa’s leading artists? Did we learn anything about Nasty C in Bad Hair? Did anyone listen to Avery beyond the club anthem Roll Up? There are more artists whom we can ask this question to, with just a debut album out can we find a correlation between Ricky Rick’s music and his claimed success? Are these artists taking up the responsibility of uplifting the youth? Is your little brother or sister learning anything from listening to a song as vain as ‘Buy It Out’? Of every question asked in this paragraph I believe the answer to be No.
With a population of 55 million people I believe SA hip hop artists limit themselves incredibly by boxing themselves into American gimmicks like living the trap life or obsessive flaunting of riches. This type of behaviour alienates them from the average South African whose life requires inspiration to get out of poverty, to fight depression and to stand up for their beliefs of a better South Africa. The average hip hop song in SA will not touch on a single social issue the people are facing, it’s almost as if our hip hop artists have all decided to forget their history. Women are the most oppressed individuals in this country, yet not one artist has spoken up on their behalf! Instead, our artists are catching sexual harassment cases in other countries.
Has hip hop gotten richer and forgotten its roots? Are our artists failing us? Unfortunately, I believe the answer to both these questions is a shame filled Yes.
Words By A Time Traveller Travelling Through A Bad Time.