During the previous BET -awards which were hosted by T Pain, he sarcastically refused to mention the name of Nas’s new album which was apparently nominated for the award, you could not blame him because the album’s name (Hip-hop is dead) contradicted with the hip-hop air that loomed the arena.
In his right as one of the living legends of hip hop ,Nas had his own legitimate reasons for asserting that hip hop is dead, which can easily be justified considering the changes that punctuate Hip-hop today from its original state.
Though it later came to be tainted by violence, drugs and guns, the original philosophy of hip-hop was a positive one; it embodied forces of liberating the impoverished blacks who had endured centuries of isolation and mistreatments which explained their plight.
Though hip-hop got tainted by constant street violence and drug dealings, its original inspirations and values endured and persisted up to when it became a full scale movement inclined towards pursuing societal welfare and human rights.
The Godfather of hip-hop and origin of the culture
Hip-was born on the mean streets of Bronx in the late seventies and its birth can be attributed to a black man by the names of Afrika Bambaataa who grew up in one of the 15-story towers of the Bronx River Projects.
Growing up with an activist mother and uncle, as a child Bambaataa was exposed to the black liberation movements of the era, and witnessed debates between his mother and uncle regarding the conflicting ideologies of the movements.
Importantly, he was also exposed to his mother’s extensive and eclectic record collection.
Due to the official policy of benign neglect in regards to the Bronx in the 1970’s, people joined gangs for safety reasons, the gangs became the law in the absence of law, clearing their turf of drug dealers, assisting with community health programs and both fighting and partying to keep members and turf.
Bambaataa was a founding member of the Bronx River Projects-area street gang called the Savage Seven, due to the explosive growth of the gang, it later became known as the Black Spades and Bambaataa quickly rose to the position of warlord.
It was his job as warlord to build ranks and expand the turf of the Black Spades, which later became the Universal Zulu Nation after being inspired by the exceptional solidarity of the Zulu kingdom.
Changes and controversies in Hip-hop
Just like any fraternity, hip-hop has had its share of problems stemming from the changes and differing interests of its stakeholders which have in one way or another contradicted with its original essence.
Rwanda’s hip-hop industry
The Rwandan hip-hop industry and culture is growing steadily and simultaneously regardless of the negative stereotypes it is suffering; the free spirited ness and aggressiveness which are synonymous with the hip-hop industry are sharply in disagreements with the expectations of the rigid Rwandan society and culture, this is perhaps why many people still view many hip-hop artists with contempt.
The hip hop artists world over are a distinct group in society, their lifestyles are almost similar; to strengthen their identity they have adopted a rather peculiar sense of style that has rather fueled many misgivings from society.
The pompous life style punctuated by shiny huge necklaces, buggy jeans and huge T-shirts, fast cars and egos as huge as China have been the common identities of hip hop artists especially in the USA.
For some reasons the hip hop trend is not exactly like that in Rwanda, it could perhaps be due to flaccid economic muscles of artists here but they posses a lowly air that I think has been bred by the all-consuming Rwandan culture.
His appearance was of a somehow nervous young man inhibiting a lot inside of him, more than he will ever have a chance to reveal, he talked with a calmness that you can never imagine he possesses when you listen to his Umwana Wimuhanda song, but he is Rider man arguably the leading Hip-hop artist in Rwanda.
The few times I have seen him on stage perform he has charmed the crowd with his hysterical intros and a bevy of meticulously aligned words that make his relics worthy listening to over and over.
Listening to his audio you might think he is one of the showy youngsters who have graced the hip hop fraternity but in person he is a laid back respectful person.
In his song Umwana wimuhanda, he documents the often unnoticed inner strength of a street child; in this gripping song he starts by describing how circumstances have shaped the life of a street kid and how difficulties have hardened his character and instinct, he winds the song by advising people to stop underrating and stigmatizing children born in undesirable conditions.
Emile Gatsinzi a k a Riderman is just one of the many Hip hop artists who are enthusiastic about taking on the culture and the art of Hip hop to transform lives and societies, among these include K8 Kavuyo, DMS, Top ganga, Diplomat among others.
They strike me as violence free artists who are zealous about contributing to the betterment of their society, asked whether they consider doing some reach outs to inspire positive livelihoods, Rider man told the society magazine that as a hip hop group along side other musicians have reached out and inspired many kids in schools to live positively from HIV aids, drugs and other immoralities.
Positive messages can also be derived from many songs some of them have composed for instance Diplomat has portrayed his lyrical style as one with an uncanny moral touch to Rwandan hip hop music, he spontaneously flows in a story-like manner which is reminiscent of some of Eminem’s songs though his actual vocal out put and style is like that of Snoop dogg.
In his songs he talks about a wide array of important topics with historical and biblical references which builds to a solid originality of the messages he puts across, he talks about hard work, politics, climate change, religious dogma, human rights and life in a general sense and his music has been liked by many people from different circles.
Controversies and feuds in hip hop
Feuds or beef as many call it first came to limelight in hip hop after two black hip hop heavy weights clashed in a series of violent episodes which escalated into deaths of many people including the actual proponents of that beef.
These two were Tupac Sharkur and Notorious BIG whose egos bulged to disproportionate measures and burst into deaths that will forever haunt the hip hop lovers and the industry in general.
Many people have argued that beef has been deliberately crafted to propel some people’s hip hop careers, but good enough this has not been the case with our artists here, Rider man rubbished claims that he has beef with Top gun another hip hop group here “that is not true, am not beefing with any one, it was a small misunderstanding and we are fine now,” he said.