Celebrity and Entrepreneurship in Ghanaian Popular Music

By Jesse Weaver Shipley

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Duke University Press announces the publication of a new book Living the Hiplife: Celebrity and Entrepreneurship in Ghanaian Popular Music. It is an ethnography of hiplife, a popular Ghanaian music genre that builds on Pan-Africanist networks to combine hip-hop with highlife music and proverbial poetry. It tells tales of commodity culture, music, and celebrity in urban Accra and of the increasingly transnational lives of African artists. It shows how young rappers, beatmakers, DJs, and media workers in Ghana and its diaspora use music to gain social status, wealth, and respect.

"Jesse Weaver Shipley has written a highly compelling account of hiplife in Ghana. Historically and ethnographically rich, it demonstrates how this musical form has affected ideas of Ghanaian identity. Not only does hiplife celebrate entrepreneurship among African youth situated in the 'shadows' of the global order. It also provides them with a language of mobile signs 'geared toward capitalist accumulation and consumption.' Based on a broad range of theoretical sources, Shipley's writing is lively, his insights memorable. This is a book that anyone interested in Africa, anyone interested in contemporary cultural production, will want to read."

—John Comaroff, Harvard University and American Bar Foundation


"African music, in its newest and most innovative forms, is changing our cultural and political worldview, and Jesse Weaver Shipley is in the know! The all-too-important voices that comprise the tidal wave of creativity throughout Africa, and especially in Ghana, will be the most significant voices of the future. Therefore this book is more than a look at the recent past and the present; it is a blueprint. Living the Hiplife is a necessary analysis of African word, sound, and power."

—M-ONE, of Dead Prez


“Shipley offers up a heady mix of political, business, and music history, of entrepreneurship and converging genres, intermixed with reportage and personal contacts as he explores the junction of celebrity, commerce, and politics in contemporary Ghana. . . . [S]cholars of contemporary African culture and aficionados of hiplife will find enlightenment.”

—Publishers Weekly


For more information, and to order the book directly from Duke University Press, please visit Duke Press