Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Translating Hip Hop Street Party

By Buddha Blaze

Translating Hip Hop Roundtable in Nairobi

Translating Hip Hop was put together The World Centre of Cultures in Berlin and the Goethe Institut. I was briefed by the Director of the Goethe Institut: Mr. Yohannes Hossfeld an arts enthusiast and a supporter of hip hop – his message was clear - lyrics, lyrics, and lyrics – why are they so important? Translating Hip Hop was not only a project but my hip hop journey and a big opportunity to engage and officiate a process that I really believed in. I am one of those hip hop heads that has for so many years listened to hip hop for its lyrics and message rather than its beats and melody. This was my turf.

MCs in Kibera slums

For the whole week, I engaged MCs from six cities - Bogota, Hamburg, Berlin, Beirut, Manila and Nairobi all locked in at the Goethe Institut, discussing their lyrics. The MCs would later make music together as an initiative of getting to know each other’s reasons’ for the lyrics. The week also included an expansive tour of Kibera slums to show the visiting MCs the environment that makes Kenyans MCs’ lyrics. Regardless of what city and cultural background any of the MCs were from the most outstanding feature about their lyrics was of crying out against inequality and injustices in the communities.

Goethe Institut, Nairobi

The power of hip hop lyrics was revealed as most important feature in the art form that we speak about. The whole week I spent translating hip hop with the rest of the visiting rappers such as the animated Mad Maxamom from Hamburg, tech hip hop lady Anne Khan from Berlin, queen of Arabian hip hop; Malikah from Beirut and Resty from Manila, Philippines and the laid back Colombian MC Melanina. They were hosted by their Kenyan counter parts in Translating Hip Hop - MC Kah and Nazizi. Guest local MCs were Moroko, Octopizzo, Wanjiku Mwaurah and L Ness.

Colombian MC Melanina

The Translating Hip Hop concert was packed to the maximum by 8pm and the energy on stage was something unimaginable. Noted was MCs performing in different languages but receiving the same amazing reaction from the crowd. Emcee Africa King Big Mic started it off with an energetic freestyle that culminated into a battle. Miss poetic Wanjiku Mwaura held her own with some soothing poetry. Anne Khan’s techno hip hop was a charged performance. The highlight of the night was Colombian MC who was a ladies favourite and Arabian queen of hip hop – Malkia. Keep it here for more.

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