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 Rap Music Unites Africa

By Princess the Writer (Kenya) June 2022

The history of rap music is traced to New York in the 1970s where it began as a cultural and musical aspect of the black youths living in the city at the time.  The youths used rap music as their voice and a way to express themselves in a world where they did not feel accepted and appreciated. At the time, racism and discrimination were at their peak and there were no platforms where they could speak out. Although this is known to be the historical context of rap music, its pioneers are believed to have been from the Caribbean. The music genre also has its roots in Africa and Jamaica. The same rhythms used in rap by black youths were used to come up with reggae music in Jamaica. The music also borrows styles and content from African traditions and cultures. Hence, rap music has many aspects of African cultures and traditions and other popular genres in Africa borrow from its lyrics, rhythms and beats. Ever since its innovation and throughout its development, rap music has unified Africa to a significant extent.
According to Kibona Clark (2007) in an all Africa article, rapping is a popular aspect in African music and culture that has carried on for years. Africans, especially youths, have recreated rap music all over the African continent. They associate with it and feel that it is their own. the spirit, anger and joy that the young African rapists expressed changed the minds of other youths in different parts of Africa as they related to the stories and messages told through the music. It is common knowledge that African music constitutes cultural and social implications and this is evident through rap music which presents their views, opinions and messages concerning different situations in life. The main issues that rap music address are food, love, life, school, work and money. African rapists approach these issues from an African perspective. Therefore, anyone who is African can relate with the content to some extent. Hence, it is arguably correct to say that rap music unites Africa based on its content, delivery and association with African cultures and traditions.
Africans have always been at the receiving end of most evils in the world. For instance, racism, slavery and exploitation have always been exercised with African people being the victim. Rap musicians have used music over the years to create social and political awareness around these aspects. Shad’s and Kendrick Lamar’s music are examples of rap songs creating awareness and some kind of activism around Black Lives Matter movement. As it is, the music serves as a tool to voice Africans’ opinions on such issues. Other rap artists use music to speak against anti-violent acts and promote peace. They serve as the voice of Africans and this aspect makes the songs a unifying factor.
Many people argue that rap has its roots in America and those who embrace the music are no longer African. However, this stance is inaccurate and lacks grounds. The criticism is invalid as rap music having its roots in America and being done in English does not alienate it from the artists who are Africans. Additionally, the music serving as a voice for Africans and having African cultural, social, and political aspects is enough reason to associate it with Africans. Hence, it is arguably correct to claim that rap music is a unifying factor when Africa as a continent and its people are involved.

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