Living the Hip Life
The film, “Living the Hip Life”, depicts the development of a Ghanaian music culture known as Hip life. Reggie Rockstone is a central character in the film. He returns to his homeland and establishes a local form of hip-hop based on the local language despite a successful rap career in London. His role in promoting a rather unfamiliar genre of music portrays him as a Godfather of the local form of hip-hop. He is a pioneer Ghanaian rapper who incorporates various aspects of Ghanaian street life in Hip Hop. Reggie attempts to incorporate aspects identifiable with Ghana within the English hip-hop to create a distinct hip-hop culture in Ghana that gains favor, especially among the youth. Other famous Hip Life artists include the Mobile Boys, which is a group composed of three young rap artists who aspire to succeed in the music industry. Reggie Rockstone and Mobile Boys engage in collaborative efforts aimed at promoting the careers of the group members.
The labeling of the music as Hip Life occurred due to the mixture of both the features of Ghanaian highlife music and the American Hip Hop. Hip Life incorporates various aspects of African-American rap lyrics and beats. The mix of these elements, using electronic technology, creates a distinct form of Hip Hop music. In addition, Hip Life adopts vocals and rhythms related to urban highlife. Highlife is a popular Ghanaian music genre that fuses distinct African rhythms with musical elements borrowed largely form Euro-America and African Diaspora.
Various similarities exist between Hip Life and the American Hip Hop. Hip Life adopts a lot of mannerism and dress code associated with American rappers. Artists in both genres exhibit similar stage characteristics, such as the dancing style (Oduro-Frimpong 1094). They also demonstrate a similarity concerning the fixation with expensive commodities such as cars and jewels. Secondly, in both Hip life and American Hip Hop, the dominant artists are males. Although there are female artists, their number is considerably small. Another similarity in the two forms of Hip Hop is the use of music as a tool for promoting generational identity. In addition, both Hip Life and American Hip Hop employ verbal indirection. In this regard, participants avoid explicit speeches in their messages directed at particular individuals. Hip Life and American Hip Hop artists adopt a naming practice for artists. These artists tend to rename themselves to portray artistic legitimacy and social responsibility.
Several differences exist between Hip Life and American Hip Hop. Hip Life incorporates certain Ghanaian norms and practices that limit the presence of various features characterizing globalized rap. Thus, Hip Life lacks gangster lyrics that promote acts such as gun violence. This differs from the American Hip Hop where gangster lyrics dominate most songs. Another difference is the use of degrading utterances in the American Hip Hop to refer to women. Derogatory portrayals and negative attitude towards women is absent in Hip Life. In addition, Hip Life artists refer to sexual organs and objects in non-offensive terms. In American Hip Hop, sexual references are considerably explicit (Oduro-Frimpong 1098).
Hip Life incorporates Ghanaian music styles such as the use of proverbs as a tool for communicating various messages. Another music style is the use of Ghanaian English to depict distinct Ghanaian meanings. It also uses musical beats largely borrowed from the traditional music. Hip Life lyrics express messages relating to various socioeconomic issues. These include responses to prevalence of joblessness, poverty and coexistence within the society. It acts as a voice of economic hopes and aspirations especially among the Ghanaian youth (Charry 295). In addition, this genre confronts political issues within the society by speaking out against bad leadership.