Friday, March 30, 2012

Hip Hop: Americans Don't Own It Anymore

Transcending cultures and languages, when combined with social media, hip hop is a potent catalyst for social and political changes in emerging democracies, especially for young women. In this special edition, I feature a few female voices from Kenya, Brazil, Vietnam, Mongolia and Mexico.

Mongolia's thriving hip hop scene is much more socially and politically conscious than elsewhere in Asia. Gennie is a rare female voice among an almost all-male club.

It's fair to say that Ana Tijoux is the Manu Chao of hip hop. Tijoux was born to Chilean parents who were exiled in France during the Pinochet military dictatorship. Shock is a tribute to Chilean student protests against education budget cuts that began in May 2011, lasting to the present. 

Brazil has a HUGE hip hop scene, 2nd only to the US. Best-known among female rappers is Flora Matos, who is considered a pioneer among many that have emerged from Brasília, the Manchester of Brazil's hip hop. Mundo Pequeno is one of Matos' big hits.

Like rock'n'roll and psychedelic music of the 60s and 70s, hip hop is the musical language that drives youth social and political activism in the digital age.

I really like the cumbia sound, a Colombian and Panamanian dance music in origin, of this hip hop track from Niña Dioz, the blond Mexican MC from Monterrey, Mexico. La Cumbia Prohibida, with Li Saumet. Dioz is the one in glasses.

Here's the queen of Vietnam's hip hop, Suboi Rapper, who was recently featured in Vietnam's 1st hip hop and break dancing film, Saigon Electric. She's got the swagger down.

Below is Muthoni The Drummer Queen, the multi-talented & multi-lingual MC from Kenya. She's known for both her performances and social and political messaging with her music.

Female hip hop artists outside the US, especially in emerging democracies, have to overcome not only the male-dominated industry, but also conservative cultural norms and mores.