Tag Archives: Hip Hop

Soundtrack to the Struggle: Music Subsidy

-Alas, the dust is yet to settle
but the liquid fuel has dried.
-Nigeria Labour Congress is happy,
so many protesters have died.
-Turning in their graves, that is why
the dust will not settle soon.
-The living have been bamboozled,
there may be blood on the moon.
-The President, Boko Haram and their southern cousins
are filling their arsenal.
-Its a relief GEJ doesn’t control their
lives with decisions that are uniliateral.


I haven’t come accross music that was specifically addressing the recent Subsidy-removal issue in Nigeria. Any music that talked about oppression, injustice and tyranny was a perfect fit. There are too many of those anyway. And so these were the life energy of those NLC protests. Now they sound like that favorite song that you listened to on your date… just before you were raped.

Big ups to artists like Femi Kuti who were out from the start to oppose tyrany. Many Nigerian artists are only supporting the people when they make their late come-ins. By supporting people, protecting their record sales for the future when they need the people to “support” them.

In case you haven’t got a copy, here are two that were done specifically in response to the then incumbent situation. Courtesy of Black Sounds Inc. Listen to this to wipe the taste of defeat, to keep hope and whenever you want to shout F*** the Power! (Listen and Download the links below).

Suicidal Subsidy

Subsidy Blues

 


PS: Please leave as a comment for me name of any record that was done specifically for the Nigerian Subsidy Removal Issue

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NLC Protest through HipHop Eyes

On the first day of the NLC (Nigeria Labour Congress) general strike, 9th January 2012, the protest started rather sluggishly. This is in spite of the heightened anticipation for this day. It was easy to tell who was member of the NLC and who was not. However, NLC had announced that this is a people’s protest and they were just heading it. But that remarkable morning, people were sceptical.

Hip hop saved the day. I don’t mean rap. I mean methods of controlling the masses (without deception). Hip hop control is achieved in two stages: proving that you deserve to take control; and controlling when you ve taken control. The NLC Leaders were in the rear of a truck equipped with loud sound systems.

Tradionally hiphop control-responsibility is achieved after proving yourself on the mic. Holding the mic means you have been given a chance. Rocking the crowd means you are doing it right and have become an official MC (Mass Controller).

The truck is like the mic, it puts NLC in a state of authority; they are given a chance to prove they can lead. At the heart of this mass-controlling is the DJ in the truck. The sluggish NLC members received a boost of energy when the speakers started pumping Eedris Abdulkareem’s Nigeria Jagajaga. Soon enough it was difficult to tell an NLC member from (non-NLC) people. Like the Pied piper, NLC protest kept sucking more people.

Another attribute of hiphop that keeps coming up in the protest is the crowd response. A speaker always start with something like “Great Nigerians!” and crowd say “Great!”. “I want to speak!”, crowd say “Speak!”, “I want to talk!”, “Talk!”, “I want to Yarn!”, “Yarn!”… Like any hiphop show, you have crowd favorites and those that actually control the crowd well.

Finally is the use of the environment by the artist. An opera singer insists on a theatre with the right accoustics. A symphony position their instrument-players to take advantage of the room’s acoustics. Yesterday’s Abuja NLC protest (like 2-days-ago) ended at Area-1’s under-the-bridge. Overhead bridge made the speakers much louder, clearer and good reverb.

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One Step Towards a Girl, One Huge Step for Mankind

Intro

This post is about arts and technology, about street arts and telecommunication, about Graffiti and ALOHA.

Here is an litmus test to check if you are wasting your time in anything that you might be doing. Take a moment and as yourself, what for? Depending on your values and the goals you have set for yourself, you inform yourself on whether to carry on or to quit. Your goal may be as deep as “to have a good after life” or as shallow as “to taste a piece of that chocolate”. Other times, as in this one, time tells us better.

It turns out that the manifestation of the above art (Graffiti) and technology (ALOHA) resulted from the same but unconnected endeavours. Yes the endeavours were worth doing because it has given us the two.

Graffiti

Some call it tagging, printing, spraying, marking but I call it street caligraphy.

Grafitti became popular in the 70s. It proliferated when young downtown new york kids wanted to create their identities from a Nobody to a Somebody. Under-priveledged kids reacted with drawings and paintings on public spaces when their feeling of neglect was high. They wanted to be known and they were… so much that they were being arrested for deforming public property.

The need for identity in the graffiti movement had been in play before reaching the minds of New Yorkers. Cornbread is the guy creditted with  bringing graffiti to the forefront in 1967; called the father of Graffiti.

Cornbread was living in Phildelphia and he started marking his name on the train and other selected places so that he can gain the attention of a girl. There were many Cornbread-tag where the girl hangs around. By flambouyantly displaying the name, the girl will end up reading and noticing many Cornbread-tags a day. Cornbread’s crush popularized grafitti.

Cornbread later became famous for painting his name on an elephant and on the plane of the Jackson-Five.

ALOHA

Yes, it all started in Hawaii. It is said that an electrical engineer (Norman Abramson) working at the University of Hawaii had a sweet-heart while working on the mainland. Circumstance necessitated his relocation to a close-by Island. This genius created a way to communicate over the air (radio frequency) between the two islands. Now the engineer can signal his damsel with no distress. This technology was called ALOHA.

ALOHA gave birth to wireless packet communication which has led to mobile phone GSM as we know it today. It is said that it wouldn’t have been difficult if he didn’t have a damsel he so wanted to communicate with.

Litmus Result

What did the artist and the technologist do? They tried to impress and get-attention of girls. Was it worthwhile for them? yes because they achieved their goals. As for us, it was very worthwhile because it gave hip-hop one more element and it gave us mobile phones.

One step towards impressing a girl, one huge step for mankind.

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Hip-Hop Reading of the Quran

Hip Hop

Hip Hop is the successor of Jazz. Like its predecessor, it changed how we listen to music. Classic symphonies tell stories using all the elements of a good play: surprise, suspense, joy, sorrow etc. The elements are knitted different arrangements with their intensity fluctuated in peaks and troughs. When DJ Kool Herc noticed that, he gave the crowd the instrumental breaks they want without waiting long. He said “Forget melody, chorus, songs – it was all about the groove, building it and keeping it going”. Then he created the Merry-Go-Round style where a good break was continuously looped using two records. Afrika Bambaata knew that secret well too. Hip Hop is exciting music. Grand Master Flash took an exciting music and made it ultra exciting. For an exciting instrumental, the story was told the old fashion way; by talking in rhymes.

In the foundation years of Hip Hop, soon-to-be DJs would go dumpster diving to get vinyl records hoping they can get good short sounds. At other times they hear a sound on the radio (or someone’s speakers), they go to record stores searching for the record just so they can get that sound they fell in love with. Hip-Hopers kept their ears open for a tight sound and you couldn’t just google back then.

By extending Hip Hop’s hunger for excitement, we started recording mixtapes on cassettes. Rather than listen to an album from start to finish, we would record a selection of our favourite tracks on tape. Big-ups to anyone who remembers buying a normal or chrome cassette to record a selection.  With access to computers, CDs and burners we moved to making playlists of our favourite tracks.

Reading The Quran

I find my reading of the Quran very Hip-Hop-like. The very few times I have read contiguous chapters of the Quran, I was with my pencil making notes of my favorite range of verses that I will come to recite later on. I am like an ambitious DJ-to-be trying to find my sounds.

Other times, I hear a recitation of verses while praying behind another or while flipping channels of the TV and I tell myself: Man, I gotta get me some of those verses. I note them down and mark them on my Quran copy. Listening to the Quran like a hungry Hip-Hop fiend listening to a good record for the first time. The Qur’an Fiend.

As a result, my Quran recitation is quite exciting. I rarely read complete chapters, unless on special occasions. I read a group of favourite verses then skip verse or chapters to read another favorite.

My Quran copy is a playlist of my favourite bits. I am looking forward to making an audio playlist of my favorite parts. It will be a mixture of whole sections, using the translation-copies to identify sections so that I don’t end up with verses that dont really have a subject or focus; the Quran verses are sectionalized.

Success Secrets

DJ Kool Herc’s father (who is a sound-system player) adviced his son “Hide the name of your records because thats how you get rep. Thats how you get your clientèle. You dont want people to have the same record from down the block.” The advice is aims to create artificial scarcity so that only the one with the secrets can create a certain mix. However, with the Hip-Hop-Quran-Reading, there is no such scarcity or competition. The Quran cannot be made scarce even if there are no papers to print it.

In the spirit of Hip-Hop-Quranic-Reading, I can gladly share my favorites, just ask if you want. If you have favorites too, Hip-Hop-Quranic-Reading requires that you dont hide yours. The Quran is a Message to Mankind anyway.

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Keeping it Real in Psychology

Keeping it Real

Keep it Real! you can find it on posters and banners along side “Life is too short, Enjoy it!”. It is the greeting you will want to receive from a Hip Hop fan. It is the best goodbye and sometimes comes as the alias “Stay Real”. It feels good to be acknowledged as being “Real” and then being encouraged to continue.

“Keep it Real” is arguably the most popular phrase in rap. Yet its meaning is so diverse that it can mean almost anything. The “Conscious Rappers” like Mosdef and Common tell us to keep it real. At the same time, the “Gangster Rappers” like Tech 9 tell us the same. The “Grimy Rappers” like Ol’ dirty bastard and RA tell us they keep it real. Does it still have any meaning left? its easier to say what it is not, rather than what it is. For the sake of this post, lets use one if foremost meanings: Excellence.

The next popular phrase in rap is “faking”. that is the opposite of “keeping it real”

…in Psychology

According to Derek Sivers, studies have shown that keeping your goals to your self highly improves the chance that you will achieve those goals. It was tested on two groups of people; first group were told to announce their commitments and the second group were told to keep it to themselves. People from the second group spent more time on trying to achieve their goals, even if it was not achieved in the end. The reason the first group slacked in their effort is that by telling others of their goals, they received accolades, in form of enzymes to their brains (I suppose) which made them feel good. Whereas the second group is working hard to receive their accolades when they achieve their goals.

Surely, this may not be true to all goals but it is an important discovery. The brains of people in the first group are tricked in to thinking they have achieved their goals… illusion, fake!

If you want to keep it real, you will do away with all the “fake” accolades that you get by bragging about your goals. You wait for the REAL accolade that you get when you do achieve your goal. Delaying gratification.

Keep it Real Y’all! Coming soon, is the second part of the Keep it Real series

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