n Scrutiny2 - 'Reading the referents' : the ghost of America in contemporary Kenyan popular music

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0041-5359


Cultural practices such as music can be read for the ways in which they both indicate and formulate contexts. This reading of contemporary Kenyan popular music focuses on the mobility and diffusion of popular music in order to analyse intertextuality in local songtexts. The data is provided by two seminal chart hits - Hardstone's "Uhiki" (Wedding; 1997) and Gidi Gidi Maji Maji's "Ting badi malo" (Lift up your arms; 1999). The argument proceeds by identifying the hip-hop practices and the many other references to American socio-cultural and economic discourses in these songs. This appropriation of hip-hop works as a reverse circuit of the black Atlantic exchange, but even then we note the imaginative processes by which local popular forms appropriate and domesticate "foreign" processes and ideas in the system termed globalization.

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