Friday, July 24, 2009

Heavy Metal In Africa...Black Africa!?

I had come across this article maybe a year ago and had since lost it but recently I found it again. It's the best article I've come across that perfectly describes the fledgling metal scene in Black Africa. What I mean by Black Africa is Sub-Saharan (I don't like that word but it is what it is) and not South Africa. I mean, Africa where there are black Africans. This article especially hit home since although I was born in America, my father is West African and my mother is Black American. I knew the few readers I had would find this article interesting. Here is the link to the whole article (which I suggest you read, its very interesting. There are two pics as well) but I will post two paragraphs in this blog that stuck out to me:



[...The third thing that struck me was the attitude among the metal heads in Gaberone toward race. It is often assumed that “whiteness” plays an important role in heavy metal subcultures. In Botswana this is, however, not the case, since all metalheads (at least the ones I encountered) are black. And as if this was not enough, all the metal fans I talked to thought that it was strange that I, a white man, liked heavy metal...
Gaborone, I believe that these observations all have one thing in common: they bring to the fore a mismatch between, on the one hand, the theoretical framework through which heavy metal is understood, and, on the other hand, the heterogeneous character of the contemporary, globalized heavy metal culture. Why did I find the metal scene in Gabarone strange? Because my understanding of heavy metal was ethnocentric - i.e. based on the idea that European and/or North American heavy metal represents 'normality', while african metal is characterized as an exotic 'deviation' from this norm
.]

I have some subjects to tap into on this subject. I think first, we need to break down Africa as a whole. Most people are extremely ignorant of the continent, the countries, the culture, etc. And I can't blame them when all you see of Africa is mostly the poor desolate wasteland that its always portrayed as. Simply not true. I know because I've been there to visit family-hell my cousin there listens to the Coors and I saw a versace store while there. But if all you see is the stereotypical portrayal of Africa-how is the metal industry going to believe that there is any sort of market for that music there of all places? This leads me to one of the points I bolded:


Do we think of music as ethnocentric?


Meaning that we associate different types of music with different types of groups, races, minorities, etc. What was the most interesting aspect of the article was that the black metal heads thought HE was strange to enjoy metal.


How interesting, eh?


This again only makes me think of one of my past posts on subculture adaptation and how black people will always be viewed as a whole and never individuals with their own tastes, mindsets, and ways of life. We are a race but we are separate as people and just because someone can know one or two or perhaps even 20 black people does not mean they all are into the same things. I want to delve more into the article in later post but first I want to know what you think of it.

15 comments:

Dare Devil said...

I am not really surprised. I mean, yeah, most people from a Western background experience Heavy Metal as dominated by Whites - I am no exception there -, but well, Whites are not the majority in every frigging country! Anyway, right now I am wondering when the first Heavy Metal band from an African country will hit the (Western) Metal scene. I bet that will rattle a few cages! ;)

MilesPerHour said...

Hmmm, sure there are certain genres of music that are dominated by certain races and cultures. That doesn't mean that whomever can't enjoy what they like.

I'm a metalhead for the most part but it sure surprised my GF how much R&B I knew. It made me laugh when her daughter thought I was so "with it" cuz I knew all the artists she liked and her Mom didn't know any. (I'm white, they're black BTW. Just mentioning that as it is pertinent to the post)

Cedric J. said...

So, im black, african (from Cameroon) and really into RnR music. Especially the noisy ones.
I was googling about 'metal in africa' and ran into your blog. Nice btw! Id like to keep in touch, so if you use msn messenger or any stuff, here's my mail: cw_power77@hotmail.com
See ya ...

The Black Girl into Heavy Metal said...

@Miles-Oh, I whole heartedly agree about the 'music can be enjoyed by everyone' topic.You should read some of the past comments in other post (specifically from my few but devoted Scandinavian readers) and their views of ethnocentric music who seem to disagree with our views. Oh, I love metal but I also listen to other types of music-metal is usally the one that surprises people because I suppose I don't look like I listen to it.
Welcome to the blog!

@Cedric-Ah, a fellow lover of the noisy music! Indeed, I will keep in touch, and keep posting in the blog! Welcome btw.

Aviloria said...

It sad how you are judged by your race and not you as an individual.

I myself I'm a black female, and i never had a liking to R&B, hip-hop, or other so called "black music". I found it annoying it never grew on me.

I was just never exposed it strongly. I love anything that is under rock, and yes, even metal.

My skin does not choose who I am as a person! It can be called originality.

Travis Nasser said...

Alot of Rock and Roll artists that are American nationals are black,let's not forget that. Back in the 60's and 70's a white boy
that adhered to the Rock & Roller
subculture was the one actually trying to "be black" or "act black"
But white Americans have been really successful with building the rock identity around their image and performing that type of music. White Americans haven't made much progress with dominating the Rap/Hip-Hop gig, 30 years have gone by since Sugarhill Gang and
Grandmaster Flash,and there's only been 2 or 3 successful white rappers. But I guess some things take longer than others.

Viagra said...

What really gets under my skin is that they saw it strange that him being white, liked metal... I mean that is really shocking when you think about it. We still have a lot to learn.

angrycat83 said...

Interesting Article, you might like my blog on African Metal

http://newschoolthoughtsonafrica.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/white-music-in-the-black-continent/

Brian [Skitzoification] said...

I have always thought of metal as a worldwide form of music, for the "idea" it creates, typically the uniqueness it presents, not to mention the bands with The political and religious Awareness it provides. i am latino/white and grew up listening to 90's rap, and eventually drifted from it during it's venture into materialistic popularity, including rock on the radio. it's a very touchy subject to me though, especially since the world is unfortunately politically sensitive. =/ i do not listen to bands like deicide and mayhem though, there are TOO many issues i found with them after reading lords of mayhem.

Christian, Norway said...

Very cool blog!

Viagra Online said...

Yeah! I think those guys are doing the best try in Africa! I've never read something like this before. They must try in Zambia. We need more heavy bands. I've been seeking by Google and I couldn't found anything.

Maese Delta said...

Hi there!

Unless I miss my guess, I think I found this blog in a link of Full Metal Attorney's blog.

And I'm interested in this deal of the perspective and experiences of different people when it comes to metal, whether having experienced some ostracism or any other hardship, and joyful times for sharing.

I'd never lose my ability to be amazed by the scope this music possesses, and that you can find people drawn to its appeal in places you'd never expect.

By the way, here's something cool I found, and I think it fits this place.

'Love it or hate it, when most people think of metal, they think of white dudes. Even if metal was born from the blues and there are growing scenes in places like Indonesia and Peru, metal’s founding fathers–Priest, Sabbath, Maiden–and most of those who’ve come after have been unmistakably Caucasian. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to find out about a small but passionate collection of guys who dressed like doomsday cowboys and listened to Motorhead in the predominantly black, central African country of Botswana.

Read the rest at Vice Magazine: ATLAS HOODS: BOTSWANA’S COWBOY METALHEADS - Viceland Today'

http://www.viceland.com/blogs/en/2011/04/01/atlas-hoods-botswanas-cowboy-metalheads/

I'm Luis Arturo, from Mexico. =D

Cheers, and you have an awesome blog!

Briana said...

I love heavy ,etal and yes i'm black and I'm a girl!

NLK3 said...

I listen to both underground/lyrical hip hop and metal (some hardcore and hard rock). I grew up listening to rap before I learned to listen to lyrics, and hated the radio stuff around 2006 and onward. But overall, those that believe in real hip hop or real metal can find similarities of masculinity and open thought, unlike most genres. There are lots of White rappers and Black metalheads.

Anonymous said...

chech out mozambique. lots of metal
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkERlmorrYY