Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Beef Makes Malawi’s Hip Hop Retrogressive

A friend of mine Limbani ‘LC’ Chaguluka is an accomplished fellow in as far as the Malawi music urban history is concerned. He took offence when I discussed Urban Music on these pages here and mentioned a group of artists that I will not mention, as having started the urban music journey in the country.

According to LC, the urban music which has its base in Hip Hop can be traced back to the days of veteran rappers Criminal – A with what was known as his deep, calm serene voice.

Well, I want us to talk about HIP HOP beef and this could easily be mistaken for meat or something.

What is HIP HOP Beef? This is to be in a state of war with someone...or a rivalry. Like A few years back Eminem and The Insane Clown Posse had beef with each other.

This is in this sense helps to improve creativity as one would always try to be very innovative so that they can outdo the other.

Remember there was ‘PATS’ Entertainment Centre near cross roads deep down Blantyre City. This is where Rap and Ragga competitions used to take place among several issues.

Groups that had beef with each other in the country, especially in Blantyre, they would argue near fighting at this venue.

LC remembers with fond memories a competition where one rapper had to be declared a winner of a well organized rap show that was in December 1995, four days prior to Christmas day.

But he thinks since 1990’s Malawian Hip-hop music has gradually been accepted among the old and young listeners, especially in 2009, when most of the rappers accepted the grim reality that the only way they can break into the main stream market was to rhyme in our native language ‘Chichewa’.

To him, this strategy seems to have worked with ‘emcees’ like Young Kay and Tay Grin who are enjoying a significant air play on our local radio stations.

LC is wondering if there is anything anymore, causing feud between rappers? Or in Hip-hop circles commonly known as ‘beef’.

Hip-hop inherently is a competitive genre, and this can be evidently be proven by citing its own elements which constitute this beautiful culture.

Hip-hop comprises of four main elements, and these are Emceeing, Graffiti, Breaking and Dee-jaying, and of course the new element

‘Entrepreneurship’ which was included, to be in synch with new direction of Hip-hop culture.

Battle free styles and break dancing are some elements which promotes a quite considerable competition in this culture.

However, this element promotes what we call healthy competition in order to lever the game and promote the craft.

But Malawian rappers, American rappers, and the whole Hip-hop industry seems to have lost direction by embracing this ‘virus’ called beef, that it Is part of Hip-hop culture.

This feud synonymously called ‘Beef’ in Hip-hop circles won’t help anyone promoting this infant culture locally; as a result it is only derailing the advancement of the culture in Malawi.

As much LC understands that some rappers are not keeping it ‘real’ thus in terms of not conforming to the principles of Hip-hop, he thinks we just have to accept that all rappers can’t be good, as such beefing someone because he is more entrepreneurial, and making some fortune out of this culture is retrogressive.

Puffy Daddy has made millions of dollars by being a mediocre rapper, he is an entrepreneur and nobody can dispute the fact that he using one element of Hip-hop ‘Entrepreneurship’.

In our case let everybody release the music, as we advance people will get acquainted with artist’s who are doing true Hip-hop, who is in game for fame, and of course who is doing this music for self glorification.

Let someone who is on commercial tip like Tay grin release his music, and let people like Third eye who are doing hardcore Hip-hop release it too.
At the of the day who are you to judge someone that you understand the craft better than the other artist?

Both dimensions of the music currently being produced are good for the progress of our local Hip-hop culture, regardless of the grittiness of the music being realized.

In 1994 a group called Black life had leader who his followers got inspired and would listen to most of his advice, including staying away from petty issues like rap feuds, his name is King Baywell C.

There were also rappers like Prince E and Tackie T who also had a substantial command from the other side of the town of Blantyre city.

These men for being in the rap game for quite some time commanded a huge respect from rookies to old rappers.

These rappers squashed a lot of beefs which culminated from petty beefs.

They did understand and knew the essence of eliminating ‘‘beef ‘for sake of progress and to catapult the image of Hip-hop, which is mostly tainted with obscene language, degradation of women and violence.

The question now in 2010 is, who can act like leaders to settle this rap disputes? for example let’s take rappers like Junior -C or Dominant -1, who have been practicing the art for the last 15 years , and we may regard these rappers as veterans among the current group of rappers .

LC wonders whether they have the respect and command which the old veterans displayed in the 1990’s, thus to say , can they act as mediators and settle this disputes which are too retrogressive for Malawian Hip-hop industry ?
Feed back: drummingpen@columnist.com

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