African Music's Fictional "Africa"?

Quick question. A lot of people, including me, seem to think Argentinian producer Douster's track "King of Africa", for all it's hipster irony, perpetuates some incredibly old and tired stereotypes of what "Africa" stands for. The video hardly seems to make matters better...

Besides the animals and the crazy-dancin' tribesmen (full respect to the dancers, I'm thinking from the video-makers perspective), there's the whole reduction of Africa, one of the world's most diverse continents, into a single unified exotic whole.

I don't seem to recall a similar outcry, though, when funky used a similarly hackneyed idea of what "Africa" means during its African tribal craze last year. I mean, Donaeo, an "African warrior" with his stick in his hand?

Is it, pardon me for asking, different when black people have a shallow, unitary, hackneyed idea of what "Africa" is? Is "Africa" as Hollywood extravaganza really that different from, say, "Africa" as supreme, wise spiritual homeland? Obviously there's a line somewhere, I draw it too, but what, ultimately, should we think of actual, you know, Africans who have a hackneyed, unified idea of what Africa is?

Or whatever. Are we to take this as a more "genuine" idea of what Africa means, and therefore deny third world musicians the ability and agency to be stuck in precisely the same shitty paradigmatic discourses we have (or construct equally stereotype-laden ones of their own)?


Joppe said...

JJC - We Are Africans http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTNnuCqLzOY

"The powerful new single by JJC which embodies the meaning and significance of Black History Month.

"We Are Africans" combines the sentiment of pride with clear messages of unity and positivity. Serious, but also fun, tongue-in-cheek and wildly infectious.

"We Are Africans" is an anthem - in fact it could be labelled as the national anthem for the United States of Africa, a concept which signifies the fortification, unification and reinvention of Africa and Africans across the world."

Birdseed said...

Ah, yeah, nice, that's another one. The Diaspora seems to be especially good at thinking of "Africa" as one thing.

Maybe it is? As well as diverse, of course. :)