Charry, Eric

  • Eric Charry
  • Music Department, Wesleyan University
  • Abstract Title: Hip Hop Africanized

Abstract: Hip hop is the latest in a long line of global currents that have been integrated into African expressive cultures, yielding uniquely African musical styles. The dispersion of Islam has deeply imbued ways of singing and playing musical instruments. Christian missionary brass bands and hymn singing wrapped up in the European tonal system have given birth to unanticipated new styles. Cuban music, coming from outside the Francophone and Anglophone colonial worlds, had its own massive influence beginning in the mid-twentieth century, as did American rock and soul music shortly thereafter. Hip hop came from the diaspora, but it brought certain sensibilities that clashed with older generations, while it spoke to restless younger generations. In the face of all of these currents, recognizable, though perhaps intangible African aesthetic sensibilities are still present. How is it that electric guitar styles from Guinea, Zimbabwe, or the Congo are readily identifiable? Are there similar regional, ethnic, or national markers for hip hop in Africa? What does it mean when a global current like hip hop gets Africanized and what is the nature of the process?


Bio: Eric Charry is Professor of Music at Wesleyan University. He has published extensively on music in Africa, including dictionary and encyclopedia entries, the books Mande Music (University of Chicago Press, 2000) and Hip Hop Africa (Indiana University Press, 2012), and most recently the chapter “Music and Postcolonial Africa” (in The Palgrave Handbook of African Colonial and Postcolonial History, 2018). His New and Concise History of Rock and R&B is scheduled to be published by Wesleyan University Press in late 2019.