By Moco McCaulay
REVOLUTION is a word that has been bandied about by more than its fair share of malevolent interlopers so much so that nowadays, besides provoking a dismissive shrug of the eyebrows, it stirs nary an attention when it is mentioned.
And, in Africa especially, revolution has meant nothing more than the violent usurping of one corrupt regime for another without any improvement in the lives of the continent’s poverty-stricken masses.
That notwithstanding – and whether you’re ready or not – Rokenzy G. Smith is bent on inciting another African revolution!
But, before you be tempted to also give him an eyebrow shrug, his is a different kind of revolution. It is an African Music Revolution channeling the struggles and aspirations, and joys and pains of a generation of disenfranchised young Africans who have literally been caught between a rock and a hard place: war on the one hand and peace reeking with the vile stench of pervasively corrupt governments on the other.
A General In The Vanguard of An Emerging Hip Co Revolution
Going by the artistic moniker “Mr. Smith-LIB Money,” Rokenzy G. Smith wants to pierce your heart with his lyrical incisors and bludgeon your conscience with his Hip Co music. And, if you are not one of those parasitic interlopers sucking on the blood of the poverty-stricken African masses, then you have nothing to fear because as Bob Marley crooned: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
And there is no denying that the Hip Co Revolution is all about good music. But, if you belong to the cabal of reviled African Lilliputians who have been perniciously stuffing their hands in the public’s coffers, then you may have everything to fear.
Because Hip Co, much like rap and reggae in their early days, is evolving as a conduit for young Liberians to expose their diabolically corrupt leaders to the light of day, while at the same time, sharing their infectious determination to end their disenfranchisement.
At times festering with strands of Fela Kuti’s power to the people lyrics, Hip Co is a luscious fusion of the beats and bravado of American hip hop with the pulsating rhythms of Africa, punctuated with the smooth colloquial Liberian English cadence, which traces its origins to the US antebellum South from the African-American settlers who founded Liberia.
“Corruption in government is high and everybody is stealing, but they are all free because no one is prosecuted for misappropriating the country’s resources. We have to let the politicians know that what they are doing is wrong because too many people are suffering, especially the youth,” Mr. Smith underscored with palpable pain in his voice.
And for that, to say that Mr. Smith has no love for those Ogre-looking politicians with grotesquely protruding bellies from their insatiable gulping down of the nation’s resources might be an understatement. Instead, for Mr. Smith and Hip Co’s other emerging stars, the contempt they feel towards corrupt African officials seems rather personal.
A Revolution That Wasn’t A Revolution After All
Because, it was only some two decades ago when, in the name of revolution, their nation imploded into a bloody civil war. And, egged on by financial backers lounging in their plush couches with their children safely tucked away in schools in the West, so-called revolutionary functionaries unleashed a bloodlust mayhem on the Liberian nation, killing without compunction, snatching children away from their parents to turn them into instruments of death, and forcing many others to flee the country.
Mr. Smith is one such Liberian who, at the tender age of 12, experienced this so-called revolution firsthand. Along with his family, Mr. Smith became internally displaced and with nothing to eat, they were forced to scavenge for what food they could find to quench the biting pangs of hunger. Then, in September 1990 at the height of the civil carnage, he and his family fled the country for Nigeria where they became refugees.
And, with no home to return to as his country became embroiled in a 14-year civil war, Mr. Smith wandered for years in other countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Philippines, United Arab Emirates and China trying to expand his hustle game to put food on his table.
It is an experience he tells about in one of his tracks called “Hood”.
I lived on the street / Slept on the street
All kinds of street / Monrovia street
Naija street / Ghana street
Mali street / Philippines street
Dubai street / China street
I love the street / I do that street walk my man
Then in 2007, Mr. Smith decided to return to his war-addled country to ply his musical skills and use his music as a way to help heal the wounds of war.
Since that time, Mr. Smith has watched with utter despondency as pervasive corruption, nepotism, and many of the same vices which provoked the civil war raise their ugly heads again.
(To read more about Mr. Smith, go here.)
Time For A New Revolution
Now, with Xpolay’s “Pot Boiling” single, a Hip Co treatise about corruption in high places and the struggles of ordinary Liberians to put food on their tables already resonating across the country, Mr. Smith has decided to drop his new album: “Africa Rap Music Revolution: HIPCO” which offers an eclectic mix of tracks running the gamut from political commentary to the daily struggles and experiences of life in his post-war nation.
“My album does not only speak to the political situation affecting our lives in Liberia, but also to the daily realities of life for ordinary Liberians. That is why I try to make the kind of music that even the common man with no education can understand,” Mr. Smith said.
As true as that may be, there is nothing common about the historical symbolism that Mr. Smith hopes to draw upon at the launching of his new album on March 23, 2013. Selecting Providence Island, where the African-American repatriates first set foot in 1822 on their sojourn to flee racial oppression as the venue for the launching of his album, Mr. Smith hopes to evoke that spirit of freedom from oppression which is rooted in his nation’s history.
Will Mr. Smith and his Hip Co Revolution to evoke the spirit of freedom from the oppression of poverty and pervasive corruption not only for Liberians, but also for other Africans and other marginalized people’s around the world succeed?
Let’s hope that it does, because the alternatives are much too bleak!
Emma Goldman, the Russian-born anarchist once said: “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” Well, Mr. Smith wants you to be part of his revolution that is why he’s made some good music for you to dance.
So go cop his album now to support the revolution!
To get in touch with Mr. Smith for information on how to purchase his new album, call: +231880621262 or +231770888698. You can also connect with him on facebook or twitter. Mr. Smith’s album will also be available on iTunes soon.