Hip pop, which started as a music and a culture in New York in the 1970s, was a product of inner city life and has historically been the voice of the Black inner city youth.
But it has deep Jamaican and African roots, which can be seen in the rawness of its beats and the rhythm of its lyrics.
Some of the first pioneers of hip hop were from the Caribbean and brought with them the same rhythms and style that were to give birth to reggae in Jamaica. Hip hop, like all African American music styles, borrows from African traditions. In the case of hip hop, this is particularly true of its lyrics and their delivery.
Rapping in African music and culture is a tradition that was carried to the new world in the 1400s. History has come full circle and rap music and hip hop culture are now being re-created by African youth all over the continent, who have taken rap’s current day manifestations and added a new African twist.
Hip hop music and culture landed in Africa between the 1980s and early 1990s. Since then, it has spread with the energy and passion of a musical and cultural revolution. The frustration, anger, poverty, joy, and spirit which young African American rappers expressed transformed the minds of millions of African youth, who related to the messages and stories being told.
Tales of poverty, crime, violence and corruption were also the stories of countless urban African youth. American rapper, 2Pac, became a legend across the continent precisely because of the social importance of his lyrics. There was no major city in Africa one could go to in the late 1990s and not see images of 2Pac or hear youth reciting him.
Hip hop was more than just another form of music, the fact that it was also its own subculture and a transmitter of political and social commentary was absorbed by African youth who related to all aspects of this new musical revolution. Many young artistes who would have once entered the music scene through the Afropop or traditional music genres have become hip hop artistes and have contributed to the evolution of the musical form in Africa.