Impey, A. (2001). Resurrecting the flesh? Reflections on women in kwaito. Agenda, 16(49), 44–50.

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Livermon, Xavier. “Soweto nights: making black queer space in post-apartheid South Africa.” Gender, Place & Culture 21, no. 4 (2014): 508–525.

Livermon, Xavier. “Sounds in the City.” Nuttall and Mbembe (2008): 271–84.

Martin, A., Kelly, A., Turquet, L., & Ross, S. (2009). Hate crimes: the rise of corrective rape in South Africa. Action Aid.

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Steingo, Gavin. Kwaito’s Promise: Music and the Aesthetics of Freedom in South Africa. University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Freedom means different things for different people throughout space and time. For the generation that lived through apartheid, freedom was a political struggle that required overcoming the oppressive regime. For the Kwaito generation of the 1990s and early 2000s, freedom meant having the ability to freely express and explore their identities outside of the apartheid regime. For the current generation, freedom means making space for and centering the experiences of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities.

Through an experimentation with sounds, visuals, dress, and narratives, artists like MX Blouse and FAKA channel the energy of early Kwaito musicians, as they…

The instagram bio for South African artist MX Blouse, reads “beyond gender, beyond genre, haute couture pantsula” — a fitting description for someone who dabbles in a range of genres including hip hop, kwaito, house, and electronic. In 2017, Blouse released their debut EP, Believe in Bloom, where they rap over 90s-inspired hip hop beats. However, more recently Blouse has been exploring with different sounds. In a TIMESLive interview, Blouse speaks on their sonic development, saying they’re “incorporating lots more local influences — there’s a little bit of gqom, there’s a little bit of kwaito.”

“if how I present, in…

In 2015, copywriter Buyani Duma (aka Desire Marea) joined photographer Thato Ramais (aka Fela Gucci) to form FAKA, a collaboration which started out as a performance art duo but has now transformed into a “cultural movement.” ( Their manifesto is Siyakaka, a word which, according to Desire, means “We don’t owe anybody an apology. We will do what we want. Nobody will police our bodies.” Their goal is to use art to normalize Black queer visibility and thereby push culture forward.

In a presentation titled “Siyakaka: A Healing Manifesto,” Desire Marea situates FAKA as a “counter institution that is meant…

In 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected as President of South Africa in the nation’s first democratic election, marking the official end of South Africa’s 46-year period under the apartheid regime. In that same year, renowned Kwaito music group, Boom Shaka, released their debut album featuring hit single, “It’s About Time.” Just as apartheid was coming to an end, a new genre of music was on the rise. Born in the townships of Soweto, Kwaito fuses elements of traditional South African music with other genres throughout the African diaspora such as house, hip hop, and dancehall. …

Baksh-Mohammed, S., & Callison, C. (2014). “Listening to Maybach in My Maybach”: Evolution of Product Mention in Music Across the Millennium’s First Decade. Journal of Promotion Management, 20(1), 20–35.

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Collins, P. H. (2006). From Black power to hip hop: Racism, nationalism, and feminism. Temple University Press.

Couldry, N. (2010). Why voice matters: Culture and politics after neoliberalism. Sage publications.

Dyson, M. E. (1996). Between God and Gangsta Rap: Bearing Witness to Black Culture. Oxford University Press, Inc., 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016.

Dyson, M…

A close read of “It’s All About the Benjamins”

One song that best captures the playa rap aesthetic is the certified platinum single “It’s All About the Benjamins,” by P Diddy himself featuring verses from Bad Boy artists Lil’ Kim, The L.O.X., and Notorious B.I.G. Centered around 100 dollar bills — “Benjamins” is used in reference to Benjamin Franklin who appears on the U.S. $100 bill — this song peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-hop chart and quickly became an anthem for the late 90s.

Featuring perhaps the most iconic Bad Boy production, the song opens…

A closer look at the 90s rap scene

An analysis of the role of luxury brand references in rap music first requires an understanding of the changes observed in the genre during the 90s, the discourses that emerged in response to these changes, and the implications on the genre’s trajectory. Although mid 90s rap saw an increase in themes of luxury, this didn’t occur in a vacuum. Rather, 90s rap music and hip hop culture was characterized by many simultaneous developments all in response to various social, cultural, political, and economic shifts.

Hip Hop and The Crack Epidemic

A significant development in rap music during the 90s was the emergence of various regional adaptations…

In 1993, Sean Combs was fired from Uptown Records and within two weeks, established his own record label, Bad Boy Entertainment.With Christopher Wallace — a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie — as its leading act, Bad Boy Entertainment would go on to contribute significantly to the 90s rap scene and make a lasting impression on the genre’s trajectory.

A living and evolving art form, rap music is characterized by constant shifts and developments as artists make their personal mark on the genre. This has been an attribute of rap music and hip hop culture since its inception. Like the genres…


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Toni Walker

Communication student at the University of Pennsylvania with a passion for cultural studies, music, entertainment, critical analysis, And everything in between!

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