Identity And Exploitation In Mos Def's Africa

1681 Words7 Pages
Mos Def’s “Hip-Hop” and Maya Angelou’s “Africa”: Identities That Have Been Exploited

Many people find identity in their culture, art and literature. Both in Maya Angelou’s “Africa” and Mos Def’s “Hip-Hop” both have themes of identity and exploitation. Both show that the black experience in the Americas and mostly all over the world is based on being the one’s who are exploited. Both poems have to do with one’s identity or autonomy being stolen from them. They do differ when it comes to the genre and the context but they do share the themes of identity and exploitation. Angelou in her poem uses the examples of the slave trade and using a women to convey two different means of exploitation. Her poem can even connect towards today, where
…show more content…
Sold her strong sons”. This has two meanings, which is a macro and micro picture of the effects of the slave trade. First, on the macro side, Europeans took African women, most were raped, had to be field workers or worked in the house. Men were used to do field work and do hard labour such as plowing a field or chopping wood. Second on the micro side, families were torn apart by the slave trade in America. Sojourner Truth said in her “Ain’t I a Woman” speech that she seen all her sons sold into slavery. It was an everyday occurrence that they would rip a child away from their family to be sold at the auction. She points towards identity being ripped away from her and her being exploited. Africa(continent) has been exploited for its people to be slaves and Africa(woman) has been exploited for children that aren’t even considered children but rather as chattel. The woman’s identity of a mother is taken away from her. Furthermore, she writes “churched her with Jesus”. This means that slaves were indoctrinated with Christianity. They were taught Christianity because that was the way of the Europeans. The slave owners saw the Africans as heathens for practicing their old tribal religions. The owners thought to be a good christian they would have to let those in their household convert. It was also a way to control them and make them more complacent with being slaves. They were taught that the Bible justified…show more content…
To chain gang line chopping. To Be-Bopping. To Hip-Hopping” this could show the identities of black people have progressed. He points out two forms of systems that kept African-Americans down such chattel slavery and vagrancy laws that led to chain-gangs for private prisons. On the contrary he uses jazz and hip-hop as liberating things that give blacks in America identity. He also writes about the nature of people or consumers, explaining that his friends are only going to be there when he is popular but once “the shit hits the fan” they show that they have been exploiting him for his talents. Def later on writes, “The industry just a better built cell block” which implies that the music industry traps artists. They strip artist of their free thinking and creativity, and makes them property which strips their identity. The music industry have been exploiting rappers and other artist for a long time. The Genius/GZA has a song called “Labels” were here raps about these labels wanting to practically own these artists. This plays into the idea the black people’s labour has always been exploited. Def gives warnings to those seeing hip-hop as a get rich quick scheme, that it not what they perceive it to be. He has some criticisms about hip-hop culture and the industry. He starts off the first verse with a very intriguing line writing, “Hip Hop is prosecution evidence. An out of court settlement. Ad space for liquor”, this means
Open Document