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Tuesday, June 18
The Indiana Daily Student

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Hiplife: more than just a genre?

The musical genre of hiplife has invaded almost every facet of Ghanaian life. Regardless of age, location or profession, it seems every Ghanaian listens to hiplife.

It is played in tro-tro buses, at clubs and everywhere else one happens to venture within the the country. Hiplife is the popular contemporary fusion of indigenous and elite Ghanaian musical forms.

Prior to the 1970s, every Ghanaian community had its own form of traditional music, such as Borborbo, Agbadza, Kpanlogo and Adowa. These musical forms were not enjoyed by the entire Ghanaian community, but rather a smaller ethnic base.

In the early 1970s, an incorporation of these indigenous musical forms and dances formed the genre of highlife. This was the first genre in Ghanaian history to go beyond ethnic groups and have mass appeal to all Ghanaians.

Then, hiplife sprung up in the late 1970s as a fusion of endemic highlife and elite hip-hop with musical pioneers such as K.K. Kabobo and Gyedu Blay Ambolley leading the way. The juxtaposition of elements of tradition and modernity in Ghanaian music created hiplife.

Since then, various hiplife artists have experimented with the genre in many different ways, combining traditional Ghanaian dances and beats with Western motifs.

The songs generally use multiple languages to represent the diversity of Ghanaian life. Some artists perform solely in English or local languages like Twi or Ga, but most combine the two or use vernacular forms of languages, such as Pidgin English, to better identify with their audience.

Hiplife has been popularized because of its innovative blend of indigenous and modern music to appeal to a wide range of Ghanaian audiences. The very name illustrates a synthesis of the two types of music to form hiplife.

Since its conception, hiplife has been spreading rapidly across the country and beyond. It now serves as a unifying element of popular culture because it is accepted and enjoyed by people across Ghana via the various forms of mass media.

Hiplife allows Ghanaians to hold on to traditional forms of culture, yet merge these forms with popular music from the West to construct their own unique form of music and dance.

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