Tue Sep 26 07:45:31 SAST 2017

Rapped in mother tongues – African hip hop VIDEOS

2015-03-18 12:49:48.0 | Bongikosi Tiwane |

As we head to Africa Day on the 25th of May, we take a look at some rappers on the continent that have embraced the American sub-culture without forgetting where they come from.

Rapper iFani Picture: Veli Nhlapo

Hip Hop is American. It was birthed on basketball courts in Brooklyn, thanks to black youth in New York.

Bamboo, Kenya

Simon Kimani, popularly known as Bamboo, is an emcee who is from Kenya but currently lives in New York City.

In his raps, he mixes English and Sheng. Sheng is a highly localized Kenyan language that differs based on neighborhoods and generations. It is mostly a combination of Kiswahili and English.

This unique brand of hip hop is called ‘Genge’, created in Nairobi from the Sheng word for “Gang.”

Genge is a combination of hip hop, reggae and dancehall.

Bamboo who is signed under The Grass Company, is one of the rappers who incorporates the style in his raps. 


Olamide, Nigeria

Olamide is a Nigerian Hip hop artist from Bariga, Lagos. He records mostly in Yoruba, his native tongue. 

He released his debut “Rapsodi,’ in 2011. His second album “YBNL,” had hits such as “First of All".

Olamide was the first Nigerian to sign an endorsement deal with Cîroc and has won several awards for his unique style.


Zeus, Botswana 

Born 22 July 1986, Game Goabaone Bantsi but better known by his stage name Zeus, is a Motswana hip-hop artist, MC and businessman.

Zeus released his debut album Freshly Baked in 2008 which included the hits Back in the days and Gijima. 

His style of rap is a mixture of English and Se Tswana.

He represents Botswana’s Gaborone, which is commonly known as Gab City on the streets. He is also based in Johannesburg, South Africa.


Positive Black Soul

Popularly known as PBS, this Hip Hop due is one of the first established African Hip Hop artists, it was found in 1989.

They are based in Dakar, Senegal.

 Members are alias DJ Awadi and alias Doug E. Tee or Duggy-Tee.

They rap in English and French, they also incorporate Wolof in their sound. 

Wolof is a language of Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania and the native language of the Wolof people.

Like the neighboring languages Serer and Fula, it belongs to the Senegambia branch of the Niger–Congo language family.

Unlike most other languages of Sub-Saharan Africa, Wolof is not a tonal language. a language in which different tones distinguish different meaning. This complements the duo’s delivery when they rap.


iFani, South Africa

He’s from Mthatha, but later relocated to Port Elizabeth to live with his grandmother, iFani is a unique rapper from South Africa.

But it’s not his background but his rap style that sets him apart from peers in the Mzansi Hip Hop game.

He raps in his mother tongue, Xhosa with a touch of English mixed with his comical story-telling.

He broke into the South African music industry around 2008 and it was his hit “Ewe” that saw him being played on various media platforms. 

He has followed it with other hits such as Shake and recently, Milli.


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