Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hip Hop Geba (The Purpose)

by Njabulo Ngobese

According to ancient history, the sound of poetry, the drum and rhythm, earned its origions in the continent of Africa. With the enslavement of African civilians to serve under their respectful masters as slaves, the spirit of music & poetry transcended to foreign lands where it found a new language that would have universal appeal and break barriers to reach a broader audience.

iGeba, is a Zulu term for isiZulu the language. It represents a culture that has seized its dominance in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Existing in the borders of Inanda, is a rich history of fallen kings who were known as 'Izimbongi' which translates to 'poets' in English. Their visions and dreams were usually interprited through their poetry and song. That particular chapter in history is now represented by a new breed of artists who have carried that torch left behind by their predecessors. 'Hip Hop Geba' is the evolution of Zulu poetry layered over 'break-beats' influenced by a variety of genres from jazz to soul music. Pioneering the movement for future generations to follow is Merel, a born & breded native of Inanda, who has been pushing an agenda of note that has encouraged lovers of art and music to take note of the distinguished genre, 'Hip Hop Geba'.

The release of his 2008 self titled debut underground EP sparked a lot of talk around the 23 year old music phenomenon. Reaching an audience that ranged from the youth to adults, Merel's style of song writing displayed a great sense of maturity. It encouraged the youth to value, appreciate and celebrate black heritage with efforts to preserve the Zulu language from extinction. According to a video interview where Merel was asked to break down the meaning behind 'Hip Hop Geba', he simply stated that "the genre represents fallen kings & poets who spoke for their people. Shaka is a highly commercialised concept of someone that was regarded as the greatest king in the Zulu nation. But history does not speak of greater kings who fought the same fight Shaka did. Those are the kings I speak for and represent in my music".

With concerns looming over the loss of cultural identity amongst the current generation of black youths, 'Hip Hop Geba' seems like an ideal medium for encouraging youngsters to revisit their history and learn about their heritage.

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