Vic Mensa And Chance The Rapper Launch The 'Black Star Line Festival' In Accra, Ghana – Forbes

Chicago’s most interesting Vic Mensa and Likelihood the Rapper search to unite the African diaspora with their … [+] ‘Black Star Line Competition.’
Senegalese-American artist, document producer, and enterprise proprietor Akon just lately prompted a bonfire on social media when he dropped some divisive feedback evaluating African artists versus thereby reigniting the cross-cultural dispute of African descendants, extensively generally known as the diaspora wars. Many considered the “Sorry, Blame It On Me” feedback as additional deepening the wound and the issue of uniting African individuals from numerous ethnicities.
Nevertheless, blessed are the peacemakers like Vic Mensa, born Victor Kwesi Mensah, and Likelihood the Rapper, actual identify Chancelor Johnathan Bennett, who’re taking an unusual route by constructing bridges as an alternative of partitions. Collectively, the hip-hop artists co-organized the Black Star Line Festival for January 6, 2023, in Accra, Ghana. High-tier performers scheduled to carry out are Mensa himself, Likelihood the Rapper, Erykah Badu, T-Ache, Sarkodie, Tobie Nwigwe, Asakaa Boys, and M.anifest who search to band along with different performers all through the diaspora.
“I’m half Ghanaian, and I’ve been visiting my family in Ghana since I was 11 years old. But it wasn’t until very recently, by 2020, that I started to go to Ghana alone and cultivate relationships in the spaces of music, fashion, and art,” says Mensa. “In those moments, I’ve started to recognize the immense privilege that I have to be in direct communication and conversation with my ancestry, as obviously something that’s been stolen by most of the people closest to me in life.”
Between 2020 and 2022, he traveled to Ghana and South Africa, the place he seen the super divide between Black artists and their fanbase that exist on the continent. Mensa remembers assembly individuals who sported Savemoney tattoos, the identify of his hip-hop collective.
“Hip-hop heads in South Africa, on podcasts and TV shows [who] know ten years of my music that I’ve never had the opportunity to interface with or build physically or even digitally. I was struck by the fact that we, as Black artists, perform Europe ten times over before we ever touched the continent of our origin,” he shares. Mensa believes the difficulty stems from a scarcity of infrastructure, and the suppression of conventional collaboration, not as a result of the followers of his artwork don’t exist.
He continues to elaborate on why Black artists skip touring the continent, which extends past their administration group or document labels and primarily boils all the way down to the misguided, unfavourable opinions many nonetheless retain in opposition to Africa relating to journey.
“Also, the lack of some of the touring infrastructure in the venues has created a situation where it’s just very rare that artists go and perform in Africa; if they do, it’s in South Africa, and though it’s becoming more frequent now [with] Kanye, Beyonce, Chris Brown, me, but the same is not true for the rest of the world,” he says. “As I said, I don’t think it’s the fault of just artists, managers, or record labels. Holistically, we’ve been led by propaganda to think of Africa as too far, too dangerous, and too scarce because by painting Africa in a demeaning light, [is] one of the primary tools of racist capitalist exploitation from its inception.”
“In many ways, the divide between us has been manufactured, and so when I was in South Africa in 2021, I had the concept to do a festival to create a vessel [to] bring Black artists to perform on a continent. Then, when I returned to Ghana in December 2021, I started to imagine it as a festival. One of the first people that came to mind to perform and be involved was Chance,” he discloses.
Mensa invited his buddies to go to him in Ghana, and unexpectedly Likelihood was the one one to achieve out to him to take up his provide. Collectively the musical comrades re-discovered Mensa’s house nation and the relationships that the “Metaphysical” emcee had fostered. All through his journey, he continued to marinate on the idea of a attainable pageant that he wished to function a conduit between Black People and their African counterparts, and Likelihood instantly got here on board.
“He has experience producing a large-scale festival in Chicago, around his “Coloring Ebook” album, so it all made sense,” Mensa provides. The Black Star Line Competition borrows its namesake from the transport firm based by Marcus Garvey, Jamaican-born Black nationalist, and pioneer of the Pan-Africanism motion, who wished to unite all Black individuals. The live performance will happen in Accra, Ghana, and Mensa explains that it was the perfect place as a result of the capital metropolis serves as “a gateway to the continent.”
“Ghana has been, from its birth, a place of collaboration and invitation to the Black American,” he says. “Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King were at Kwame Nkrumah’s independence speech when he led the nation to be the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve independence from the colonial powers. Maya Angelou wrote a book in Ghana, and Malcolm X spoke in Ghana in that timeframe.”
In 2019, Ghana kickstarted a journey marketing campaign referred to as the “Year of Return” to encourage members of the Black diaspora to discover the nation as vacationers in hopes they’d make it their house. The African nation is also providing citizenship to Black People and people from the Caribbean as a part of its “Beyond The Return” initiative.
Black Star Line Competition boasts a stellar lineup of artists.
“Ghana’s history, in conjunction with myself being Ghanaian, just made so much sense as the birth of the festival. One of the primary misunderstandings between Black Americans and Africans of the continent is Black Americans feeling like Africans do not accept or consider us to be of them,” Mensa says, bringing to gentle the discord that has plagued the diaspora for years. “Ghana from its birth has positioned itself and shown it prioritizes the collaboration and invitation of Black Americans and Kwame Nkrumah said, ‘You’re not African because you were born in Africa, you are African because Africa is born in you.'”
Mensa holds to the concept that mending the divide between Black People and Africans has to begin with conversations, collaborations, experiential studying, and deconstructing the racist views ingrained within the minds of both tribe. As well as, each teams should unite and construct companies collectively and acknowledge one another inalienable similarities in addition to our distinctive variations.
“At the end of the day, all of this divide between us is a tool of our oppressors, it’s manufactured, divide and conquer; you can’t put Black Americans in line with Africans and say we are not of one origin. Human history is so much longer than the last 500 years, and to be detached from the source for 500 years does not negate the hundreds of thousands of years that every Black Americans’ ancestors spent in Africa. There are many misunderstandings on both sides and to counteract those acts of propaganda is one of the main missions of this festival,” he demonstrates.
Black individuals all through the diaspora reconnecting with Africans will be mutually useful for everybody economically by establishing relationships for commerce and entrepreneurial ventures. American leisure and music are one of many nation’s main exports and have resulted in connecting ties with Black individuals globally. Mensa recalled 5 years in the past; it will be extraordinary for his neighborhood buddies to vibe to African music. Nevertheless, Afro beats have taken over the airwaves, and obstacles are coming down with artists like Tems, Burna Boy, and WizKid. He even notes that lots of his cohorts from Chicago who’re concerned in trend and branding are spending time in Ghana and constructing companies. Mensa acknowledges the late Virgil Abloh, who linked with younger designers and cultural movers, serving to them develop their manufacturers.
With Revolt as a associate, live performance attendees will take part in occasions, lectures, and panels centered round training, enrichment, and cultural diffusion the week main as much as the pageant.
“Ghana has some of the world’s premier Black painters right now. There are some art events, discussions with painters, and art exhibits. They’re going to be comedians, soccer match activations, civic engagement, [and we may] give out a home to a festival goer, and so I’m sure we’ll make an event out of that,” he lists, constructing on his altruistic endeavors by additionally developing clear water amenities.
“We’re building 3 Boreholes in different communities in Ghana to provide clean drinking water; the first being the Asokore Zongo in Koforidua where my family lives, which is already built. The other locations are a nearby community called Efiduase and then our ancestral village in the Volta Region Amedzope,” Mensa mentioned in an official statement. “Most people in communities like this in Ghana experience constant water borne diseases.”
His chief intention is to rewrite the extraction that has been the historical past of out of doors intervention into Africa enacted by European and American colonization and Black American powers. He identifies that when individuals would come to Africa, and presently, they take what they need and go away, “I wanted to make sure that within this festival, we’re also bringing things to the table that will be there beyond the end of this event, and that we’re providing and not only taking.”
Whereas the Black Star Line Competition is barely in the future, Mensa has visions to host it as an annual live performance that travels all through the continent and the Caribbean. He additionally needs the pageant to catalyze the decolonization of the touring actions of Black individuals. One other one of many pageant’s companions, United Airlines, is providing a 5-10% low cost on airfares to Ghana as much as January 17, 2023, utilizing a reduction code.
“At the same time, there are people that saw our United Airlines partnership or discount and where like, ‘man, we ain’t going to Africa’ or internet guys that saw it and be like, ‘look, these [N-words] ran all the way to Africa, they gonna be performing for three goats, a baby in a loincloth and a chicken,'” he laughs on the pitiful ignorance. “It’s a lot of work to be done because you don’t erase centuries of manufactured confusion overnight.”
Past the pageant, Mensa will launch his sophomore studio album on Roc Nation in early 2023, that includes manufacturing from Grammy award-winning Nigerian producer Bongo ByTheWay and can star within the drama African/American set for principal images in South Africa produced by Academy Award winner, costume designer Ruth E. Carter of Black Panther, Coming 2 America. The movie follows the rise of South Africa’s hip-hop scene in the course of the post-apartheid renaissance interval.
“I met a brother named Sid Cash after I was in South Africa by an in depth buddy of mine, who used to stay in South Africa for a time, and I used to be knowledgeable in regards to the challenge and the story of Pro Kid, who was the best South African rapper that ever lived in many individuals’s opinion. The creation of his seminal album “Heads or Tails” was, in many ways, a collaboration with his manager, this American guy named Sid Money. So it was this collaboration of an American and an African that helped one of Africa’s greatest emcees realize his potential,” he says. “I thought the project aligned with my mission and that it was spotlighting the exceptional accomplishments of the African continent, it was hip hop, and it also showed the collaboration between us as Black people globally can lead to beautiful things.”
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