For many opponents of the sometimes controversial music genre of Hip Hop, this day will live in infamy. Rapper NAS predicted it, the current state of affairs regarding “Freedom of Speech” in America accelerated it and unbridled attacks on the music industry sealed it. So today, I am here to declare that…..HIP-HOP IS DEAD!
Like any cultural idea or movement however, there are always going be followers or believers in a philosophy or ideal. Like every movement , there will be soldiers that fight to keep the teachings alive. So, if I have proclaimed here that HIP HOP is dead, who will stay and fight for it? For practitioners of Hip Hop, it is a movement and a cultural ideal which means it cannot DIE, because its existence has spawned too many millions of lives.
In the face of a death, however, I am here to report that with HIP-HOP’s apparent death, there is a reincarnation taking place on the shores of Africa, Europe and beyond. To quote my Dad, “You can cut of the head but the body will always remain.” So, across the globe, The Kings and Queens of African Hip Hop (Hip Life) are holding court and taking all prisoners. They are coming strong and taking no shorts. They are armed with the ammunition of knowledge, struggle, linguistic beats, rhymes and the gift of cultural identity.
According to one popular HIP Life blog (thehiplifecomplexblogspot.com), Ghanaian youth began to write rhymes in local languages over imported beats over 10 years ago. It goes on further to say that “Hip Life challenges people at all levels of society to think in new ways.” It is no wonder African Hip Hop is seeing such a tremendous growth. There are TV, Radio, Award Shows, Magazines (on and offline),and literally an entire industry has been created around this genre of music which was inspired by America’s HIP-HOP culture.
During my recent interview with VH1 featured artist and Ghanaian born Nya Jade (NYA JADE “Live” on Associated Content), we spent a little time talking about Hip Life and its impact on the African ontinent specifically and the global music scene in general. So as a follow-up to that conversation with Nya Jade, I present to you African Hip-Hop Artist…..MADAROCKA.
MADAROCKA won the HIP HOP category at the 2006 Nigerian Entertainment Awards which was part of a larger celebration held in Washington, DC. The award ceremony is hosted by NAIJA Life Magazine and honors entertainers of Nigerian descent. Last year’s award was hosted by BET featured Comedian/Nigerian born Michael Blackson. This year’s award show is scheduled for June, and will be held in New York City.
When I first heard MADAROCKA, RapperLil’ Kim immediately came to mind because of her eccentricity, sound, flow and style. Her lyrics however, are truly inspired and uniquely her own. She rhymes like it’s nobody’s business and says it with such conviction and poise that even she proclaims in her hit “LOVE ME” featuring Asha….”MADAROCKA Too Much!”
So, here in this exclusive interview, I introduce you to her royal highness, “MADAROCKA: African Queen of HIP HOP.”
Saba,Ink: So tell me about your music. How would you describe it?
MADAROCKA: Well, I grew up with HIP-HOP and African High Life Music. I’ve always been interested in exploring my roots and getting more involved in it. I call my sound, Afro Life.
Saba,Ink: In listening to your music, the words are pure and speaks to an experience that is unique. It seems like you might be doing some sort of conscious rap….where does your inspiration come from?
MADAROCKA: It is personal…but it comes from being a woman, being African and African-American at the same time. It is about my experiences. Like living in two worlds.
Saba,Ink: Would you call it a bi-cultural challenge?
MADAROCKA: (laughing) Yes! It is like in Nigeria they expect me to be more American, and in America it is the reverse. My parents (both of the Igbo Tribe) wanted me to be a Lawyer. Entertainment is just not an acceptable career choice culturally. So, I constantly struggled and continue to struggle with my music career.
MADAROCKA: My Mother for years convinced the community that I was going to school to be a Lawyer. I mean, I do have a degree in Communications & Fine Arts but my heart has always been with my music. It is only with this generation (of Africans) that Entertainment is being accepted. We are like the pioneers.
Saba,Ink: When I heard your music, I truly felt like there were influences from Lil’ Kim. I know that you have toured with her and other notable artists, so did you get your vibe from Lil’ Kim?
MADAROCKA: Actually, back in the day, I used to hang out with her (Lil’Kim) and Biggie (Smalls) along with their manager and producers. I used to hang out with them in the studios and production facilities. So, in some ways, I’d like to think that I influenced her (laughing). I would open for her and a lot of similar artists…..back in the day. When I was younger, I’d get mad at the comparison.. but now, I’m honored by it.
Saba,Ink: Interesting. So, what’s on the horizon for you?
MADAROCKA: I’m looking to explore opportunities in Africa. Like a reality show of this whole process, some acting, comedy, plays and all that. I am also working on building a school back home.
Saba,Ink: That is great. So what exactly brought your family to the US?
MADAROCKA: My father was involved in the Biafran War back then. He had to flee Nigeria and came here for political reasons. My mom and other siblings were left behind. After seven years of being in the US, he returned for my mom and siblings.
Saba,Ink: So, where you born here or in Nigeria?
MADAROCKA: I was born here with a very traditional Nigerian upbringing. That is why entertainment and pursuing it has been such a challenge for me. I have always wanted to be a mentor, and it has always been in my spirit …..so I teach through my music.
Saba,Ink: What would you like everyone to know about you?
MADAROCKA: First, that I am a child of GOD. I know that the key to life is finding purpose and value in life. We need to know why we are here. If we all think like that, the world would be a better place.
MADAROCKA: It pains me to see the news, the violence amongst people and our young people especially. It is very sad to watch…..If they (young people) understood their purpose, there would probably be a lot less violence.
Saba,Ink: Ok, so the Rapper E-V-E is getting ready to release her new album. It is being said that right now, she is the best Female MC around. What would you say?
MADAROCKA: I would definitely agree. Especially when you compare her to what is out there now. She seems to be the only one that has remained sane through this whole process that is the industry. When you are in the business and want to keep a clean slate and not willing to sell your soul, it very hard…particularly for women. That’s another reason I have set my sights at going back to Africa.
Saba,Ink: So what are the prospects for making a living in Africa? What sort of record sales could you expect?
MADAROCKA: With a fully focused push, 10 Million Copies easy! That’s just looking at Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.
Saba,Ink: Wow! That’s huge. What about performance opportunities?
MADAROCKA: Performance wise the big name artists like 2 FACE and others are probably looking at $1-2 million Naira (Nigerian Dollars). That is about $10,000 US per performance. Lesser known artists are probably making half of that. These entertainers are being sponsored by companies like (Glow Nigeria, Heineken, NTN & Celtel phone services, Money Gram, Western Union & Benson & Hedges in UK especially).
Saba,Ink: That sounds really interesting. It is like an industry all in itself.
Saba,Ink: So where can people get your music in the US?
MADAROCKA: I have an Indie label called Baby Rocka and we will be distributing through that. Also, through my myspace page and African markets and stores in cities like New York, Houston and Atlanta.
Saba,Ink: Madarocka, this has been a really interesting conversation. I have learned a lot here. What words would you like to leave us with?
MADAROCKA: GOD Bless Africa, Big Up to the youth in the community. Remember that the secret to life is not financial pursuits…..it is about following your passion, convertingit into a business you love and living life to its fullest!
MADAROCKA has truly set an example with her unique style. She was the first to perform HIP HOP on Nigerian Television creating a new trend. She is a trailblazer and an Artist who refuses to compromise. She understands very well that her path is not an easy one, but she is determined to make it work for “AFRICA LOVE.” After all, as the words to her song goes, when you’ve got mouths to feed and “only one yam and one chicken,” you just gotta make it work!
MADAROCKA…..a true soldier and artist, refusing to do it in “VAIN.”