Liberian English

Liberian Music-Hipco

Over the past year of study, I have spent several hours reading and studying Koloqua. This has included listening to Liberian radio shows, reading about its history (thanks Dr. Singler), and communicating with friends and mentors. It has also consistently included one particularly enjoyable study tool – watching Liberian hip-hop videos on youtube. This post presents a very brief background on the popular Liberian hip-hop scene known as “hipco.”

Emerging from the streets of Monrovia, hipco draws on rap, R&B and the West African dance scene, and is performed in the common language of Liberia-Koloqua. Its origins are similar to other hip-hop scenes globally, emerging in the 1980’s, and commonly speaking to the issues of young people of more urban areas of Liberia, specifically Monrovia. Its low production value, with videos generally depicting performers in everyday surroundings and contexts, distinguishes it from other hip-hop genres in the country, specifically “trapco” which combines hipco with more typically American hip-hop influences (including production value and glamorized situations). Important to hipco is its focus on political and social issues, commonly touching on topics like the history of Liberia, prostitution, government, corruption, safe sex, poverty, inequality, police brutality, and war. Hipco music and artists also played an important role during the ebola crisis in 2014-2016, with artists writing songs to educate people about the epidemic and to ease people’s worries. One such song, called “ebola is real,” became known as the “official ebola song,” used by UNICEF and the BBC, and was used as a sort of public service announcement to spread awareness about the deadly disease.

Some popular songs and artists include:

Ebola is Here– Various Artists

Police Man– Takun J

Song for Hawa– Takun J

Who Make You Cry– Takun J

Six Jue– Takun J

Back to Buchanan– T Crack

Kemah– DenG

Jue u bad– DenG

Gbanna Man– Christoph

Product of a Failed State– Pochano

Documentary on Hipco

Hipco Nation (full documentary not currently available)


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Resources for Self-Instructional Learners of Less Commonly Taught Languages Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison Students in African 671 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.