By Buddha Blaze pics by Jesse Shipley
MUSEUM FOR AFRICAN ART - NEW YORK
Jesse Shipley from the Museum of African Art in New York has embarked on an initiative to showcase the rising phenomenon that is African hip hop. Hip hop in West and South Africa has been given the shine it deserves but its East African hip hop that has lagged behind in the exposure – this doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. So Jesse Shipley arrived in Nairobi January with his South African compadre Dzino from Rage Productions to have an exterior look at the budding hip hop scene in the city of Nairobi. Their aim is to see artists in Kenya who are using hip hop as a tool of communication and innovation and empowerment.
POINT BLANK EVUMBI
Spark Africa put together an African Hip Hop Exhibition Meet Up which included meeting all the players, innovators, illustrators, artists, b-boys, activists and personalities influenced by hip-hop and using it as a tool to address political issues. This also includes artists and personalities who are merging their creativity with modern technology in order to get their message across to their audiences. Hip hop as we know it is not all about shouting down in a microphone but it also needs a sense of sophistication in terms of being technologically ready and innovative enough to be used as an activism tool for now and the future.
The African Hip Hop Exhibition Meet Up led us to Pawa 254 to meet a successfully innovative hip hop artist in Kenya; the gospel influenced scholar and former member of Ukoo Flani Mau Mau – Juliani. This is an artist from the inner city Dandora slums of Nairobi, he has catapulted hip hop into the realms of corporate Kenya without compromising anything that he started out fighting for many years ago. Pawa 254 is a creative centre founded by photographer Boniface Mwangi who is also influenced by hip hop. This centre houses many creative people and gives them an opportunity to focus on their creativity.
JULIANI AT HIS BASE IN PAWA 254
BONIFACE MWANGI AT HIS OFFICE PAWA 254
After being inspired by Juliani and Boniface Mwangi at Pawa 254 we head over to Sarakasi Dome – the current home of WAPI the biggest hip hop movement in Africa where many artists started their careers. It is here that meet Point Blank Evumbi a hip hop scholar, illustrator, cartoonist and lyricist. This is the kind of multi-talented artists that will dictate the future of Kenyan hip hop. We also meet a whole group of other upcoming hip hop artists including Abbas, Checkmate, Moroko, Kimya, Alai K and many more. We headed out to one of Nairobi’ hip hop studios – Phoenix Records where we met with owner Flash.
ABBAS a.k.a DOOBIEZ INTERVIEWED BY JESSE SHIPLEY
FLASH AT PHIENIX RECPORDS
The African Hip Hop Exhibition Meet Up proceeded to Just a House; the studio of Jus A Band a group that defines Nairobi genius creativity to meet group members Bill and Muli. These are some amazing voices in Kenyan music using innovation and technology to make the most amazing music. They went viral with Makmende a few years ago and still leading in creativity. We also check out Kibera; the home of Octopizzo and graffiti writer Bankslave who give us a tour of their neighbourhood. In the slums of Kibera we find what hip hop has been doing in the community through graffiti and positive music. Kibera is not just a slum.
OCTOPIZZO IN KIBERA
GRAFFITI WRITER IN KIBERA PEACE BASE
JUST A BAND AT JUST A HOUSE
The African Hip Hop Exhibition is coming up soon in New York; keep it here to know which artists were chosen from each country in Africa to participate in this initiative by Jesse Shipley from the Museum for African Arts. It is important to give the African hip hop scene an international face because the genre has given a lot to the continent including inspiring a voice of change, reason and development. Hip hop has been involved in politics, social change and even inspired advertising. Hip hop has given to many what would have never been given to them. Hip hop has built careers, characters and families. Big Up! Hip Hop.