LIVING THE HIPLIFE
Celebrity and Entrepreneurship in Ghanaian Popular Music
Join Reggie Rockstone and all of GH celebrities who participated or contributed to the rise of celebrity and entrepreneurship in GH Music.
Thursday, 11th April 5:30PM - Grand Papazz
Physical books and the accompanying 61 minute-length DVD will be available.
DJ Black and DJ Rab presents "Living The Hiplife" PART 1 http://djblack.podomatic.com/entry/2013-03-13T10_58_40-07_00
DJ Black and DJ Rab presents "Living The Hiplife" PART 2 http://djblack.podomatic.com/entry/2013-03-15T01_59_37-07_00
A book launch is being held this April 11th, 2013 Thursday evening for a new book celebrating Hiplife music. Published by one of the top academic presses in the world, Duke University Press the book is calledLIVING THE HIPLIFE: Celebrity and Entrepreneurship in Ghanaian Popular Music. It is an historical and social account of hiplife, from the 1990s until today. It features the top artists and celebrities who have made this music into a global phenomenon as well as the underground talent that drives new styles. It shows how young rappers, beatmakers, DJs, and producers in Ghana and its diaspora use music to gain status, wealth, and respect. The book describes the current global interest in celebrity culture and how Ghanaian artists blend together various influences to make music that is popular and innovative. The book focuses on pioneers like Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Reggie Rockstone, Panji, Hammer, Obrafour, VIP, Tic Tac, Sidney, Buk Bak, Okyeame Kwame, Tinny, Abrewa Nana and Rab Bakari as well as newer stars like D Black, R2Bees, Samini, M3nsa, Wanlov, M.anifest, Efya, Edem, Mzbel, Sarkodie, and Kwaw Kese. Celebrity culture has grown big in Ghana and this book explores it. It also shows that to be an artist in this day and age, you must also be savvy entrepreneur.
The book’s author Jesse Weaver Shipley (@jjjship) is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Haverford College in the United States of America. He is a filmmaker and writer who has been doing research, writing, and making films in Ghana since 1997. His scholarly work is dedicated to showing the importance and global relevance of African and specifically Ghanaian popular culture. He has made numerous music videos and documentaries in Ghana, South Africa, and the United States. He has lectured all over Europe, Africa, and the Americas.
Reviews of the Book:
John Comaroff, leading anthropologist and scholar from South Africa now at Harvard University, has described the book: "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."
Influential American Rap artist M-One of the group Dead Prez has supported the book with his review: "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."
Top book review site Publishers Weekly has also supported the book: “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."
Detailed Description of Book
Duke University Press - 344 pages.
This book examines the sociohistorical emergence of Ghana’s hiplife music as a new genre and its centrality to changing ideas of Ghanaian identity. It then follows how hiplife makes and transforms various kinds of value—aesthetic, moral, linguistic, and economic. Hiplife is a popular music genre that fuses hip-hop sampling, beatmaking, and rap lyrical flow with older forms of highlife music, Akan storytelling, and proverbial oratory. Like highlife before it, hiplife is musically eclectic. It is defined less by a specific rhythm or orchestration than by techniques that blend black diasporic music and style into established local performance genres. Throughout the twentieth century, black diasporic popular culture has had a particularly potent influence on Ghanaian aesthetics. Hip-hop, in particular, appealed to young Ghanaians through its emphasis on the liberatory potential of black male speaking. Young Ghanaian rappers and musicians have become celebrities. I show that hiplife celebrates entrepreneurship. Hiplife’s entrepreneurial spirit aligns music-making with self-making, as unknown musicians strive to transform themselves into influential stars.
The rise of hiplife reveals the cultural implications of free-market transformations that have dominated Ghanaian society over the past two decades. New electronic and digital technologies are central to this development, as is the role of artists, producers, and corporations as social mediators.
Young hiplife musicians who rise to fame represent a new kind of Ghanaian celebrity for the neoliberal political economic era. Hiplife stars are ambassadors of entrepreneurial success, converting musical pleasure, leisure, and success into celebrity. Fame, in turn, becomes a form of currency, transforming social status into material wealth. Artists initially seek success through informal music circulations. Subsequently, corporate and media interests rely upon artistic celebrity to brand products for an emerging Ghanaian market. The state also tries to use new market-oriented tastes to gain public support. As aspiring artists recognize that their success hinges upon fashioning an image of celebrity—and that financial support for music comes primarily from corporate sponsorship—they increasingly create personal brands, striving to be made into corporate icons for technology companies, mobile service providers, drinks, and household goods. In the context of the free market, the freedom of personal expression itself becomes a way to reimagine Ghana in the 21st century.
Purchase physical book copies here:
UPDATE: See photos from the event itself courtesy of influential Ghana blogger Ameyaw Debrah