By Ishmael Bayoh
I am compelled to write this piece after close observations of how some people are using the name and influence of our musicians in their so called campaign against violence as we approach the November 17th, 2012 multi-tier elections.
Musicians can definitely play a pivotal role in campaigns and by the way, Artistes for Peace are doing such campaigns. This campaign is totally different from this new campaign now bandied around from the National Stadium to Attouga and back to the stadium with the theme ‘say no to violence’. The first stadium show hosted, the President was invited as guest of honor in that campaign, and the artistes were rallied because of their fan base for motives best known to the organizers. Most of the organizers were in red lacoste projecting their image in flamboyance against the talents of the artistes. I pondered around when the musicians have become the beacon of violence in Sierra Leone politics.
This takes one to the sinister moves by certain individuals in getting the radio DJs to form an association at the expense of the artistes. A perfect example was what happened between popular rapper LAJ and the DJs Association. One question keeps playing around that why is it that in the campaigns for non violence as we approach the elections, the President is the sole politician invited as guest of honour.
Going further, some people with another agenda targeted the two most popular rap artistes, Amara Denis Turay (Kao Denero) and Alhaji Amadu Bah (LAJ) and their respective groups, Black Leo and RFM to be on stage on Easter Monday as a way of peace. What has rap music got to do with political violence when we know it fully well where violence comes from and the people that perpetrate it (Read Lawyer Shears Moses Commission of report on political violence). It’s most deceitful for people to now use the artistes just to promote their clout to whosoever and deliberately ignoring where to direct their campaigns. I refuse to accept that either fans of Black Leo or RFM are perpetrators of violence in Sierra Leone.
Yes, you would point out few instances where we have had clashes among rival artistes and not just hip hop artistes. You remember the fracas between Daddy Saj and Succulent? or Daddy Saj and K-MAN and also Kao and YOK7 or Kao and Dry Yai or LAJ and Kao? Those were clashes done largely on the microphone. The most ever biggest clash was in December 2010 when the use of rival youth gangs was co-opted in to the music arena to fight for supremacy and street fame. Apart from that we all know that violence persists during OG contests, football gala matches, sports meet. Presently, rap is giving a different intention to the public by some people.
Nowadays if you ask most people to give a definition of “rap”, they’re likely to state that it’s the reciting of rhymes to the best of music. But rap is a form of expression that finds its roots imbedded deep within ancient African culture and oral tradition. Throughout history, there has always been some form of verbal acrobatics or jousting involving rhymes within the Afro-American community. Initially all of hip hop’s major facets were forms of self-expression, the driving force behind all these activities was people’s desire to be seen and heard.
Rap continues to be popular among today’s youths for the same reasons it was in the early days: it is still an accessible form of self-expression capable of eliciting positive affirmation from one’s peers. Because rap has evolved to become such a big business, it has given many the false illusion of being a quick escape from the harshness of inner city life. What is amusing is how these artistes have accepted the nomenclature of violence among their fans when they fully well know that political violence is perpetrated by either the SLPP or APC. Has the tussle between Black Leo and RFM warranted the Political Affairs Minister and the President to host them at State House if not for other motives?
In hip hop, competition fuels growth and beef songs are common in the rap industry and Artistes become better known in times of controversy as competition has its lexical register – ‘battle’. When battle transcends mere lyrical insults and grows into the potential for confrontation and actual enmity, it becomes ‘beef’. Most notable beefing are among Tupac vs Biggie, Jay-Z vs Nas, and 50Cent vs Ja Rule.
Hip hop is the culture from which rap emerged. Initially it consisted of four main elements; graffiti art, break dancing, DJ (cuttin’ and scratching) and emceeing (rapping). Hip hop is a lifestyle with its own language, style of dress, music and mindset that is continuously evolving. Nowadays because break dancing and graffiti aren’t as prominent, the words ‘rap’ and ‘hip hop’ have been used interchangeably. However it should be noted that all aspects of hip hop culture still exists. They’ve just evolved onto new levels and I argue that artistes are not responsible for political violence in the country.
(C): Politico Newspaper