South Africa is probably the heartbeat of hip hop in African music and alongside Afrohouse is the dominant genre in Nelson Mandela’s country. Prolific South African rapper Aka once said if West Africa is the home of Afrobeats then South Africa is the home of Rap in African music. Not taking anything away from rappers across Africa and I can confidently say Africa with Rappers like Olamide, Sarkodie, Phyno, Tha Dogg, Casper Nyovest , Aka, MHD, E.L and more can stand up to any rap act across the world. The 1970’s berthed what we know now as Hip-hop in New York City. Big Party, loud stereos and diverse cliques in the community competing against each other rapping.From New York rap made its way to the rest of the world and South Africa.
The role of Hip hop music is not as documented in the South Africa apartheid story but it is a well known fact that in the 1980’s rap artists of that era spoke against Afrikaners oppressive ways.Over the years South African artists have finessed the art of hip hop and provided Africa with heavyweight lyricists like Provabs, Kwesta, Riky Rikk, AKA, Cassper Nyovest, Khuli Chana, Da L.E.S, Blakles and HHP just to mention a few. These artist and many others have exhibited the rap art in its pure form winning adulations from many across the continent. There is however a worrying trend cropping up in South African hip hop music nowadays. It might take more observation to notice this but South African hip hop music videos are becoming same themed , monotonous and not as creative as it could be.
Just like the trend of nudity is gradually taking over the African music visuals market which is a story for another day, South African hip hop music videos are following same trend. Watch an average South African hip hop music video today and you are likely to see rapper in big mansion, surrounded by skimpily clad females grinding with different inches of waists,a luxurious car and bottles of champagne popping like confetti. The lavish lifestyle is basically the portrait that presents itself to you in most South African hip hop music videos nowadays. How did it get to this? Is that what the market is dictating? Is that what the fans want?.
The truth is that the monotonous nature of these music videos is undermining the artistry of the many gifted wordsmiths that abound in South Africa. Whatever is responsible for this worrying trend can be arrested by a more creative approach to shooting music videos by industry players.
South Africa is one of the most beautiful countries in Africa and other African artists from different countries troop to Jozi to shoot their music videos. With the beautiful landscapes that abound in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria and elsewhere we should be getting more beautiful work of art from South African hip hop music videos. It is noteworthy that this trend is not common to all but most of South AFrican Hip hop music. Kudos to the ones that have been thinking out of the box in the presentation of their visuals and here also is an open challenge to South Africa’s finest rhythm and applied poetry (rap) experts to curb the boring trend.