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Living the Hiplife: Celebrity and Entrepreneurship in Ghanaian Popular Music Paperback – January 28, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Living the Hiplife is about young hiplife musicians in Ghana trying to make good while making do. The musicians are at once artists, entrepreneurs, and hustlers. Jesse Weaver Shipley's ethnography of these artists and their listeners presents their ways of laboring as forms of struggle under neoliberal conditions. I am particularly struck by his identification of the skills of electronic mediation as crucial to good musicianship, good cultural brokerage, good hustling, and good entrepreneurship."
(Louise Meintjes, author of Sound of Africa! Making Music Zulu in a South African Studio)

"African music, in its newest and most innovative forms, is changing our cultural and political worldview, and Jesse Weaver Shipley is in the know! The all-too-important voices that comprise the tidal wave of creativity throughout Africa, and especially in Ghana, will be the most significant voices of the future. Therefore this book is more than a look at the recent past and the present; it is a blueprint. Living the Hiplife is a necessary analysis of African word, sound, and power."
(M-1, of Dead Prez)

"Jesse Weaver Shipley has written a highly compelling account of hiplife in Ghana. Historically and ethnographically rich, it demonstrates how this musical form has affected ideas of Ghanaian identity. Not only does hiplife celebrate entrepreneurship among African youth situated in the 'shadows' of the global order. It also provides them with a language of mobile signs 'geared toward capitalist accumulation and consumption.' Based on a broad range of theoretical sources, Shipley's writing is lively, his insights memorable. This is a book that anyone interested in Africa, anyone interested in contemporary cultural production, will want to read."
(John Comaroff, Harvard University and the American Bar Foundation)

“[Shipley] has written with passionate involvement and balances his study with firsthand interviews. The globalization of hip-hop should be no surprise, and this exploration of its reach and how it can be remade provides a fascinating example of the localization and renewal of the form.”
(Bill Baars Library Journal)

“Shipley offers up a heady mix of political, business, and music history, of entrepreneurship and converging genres, intermixed with reportage and personal contacts as he explores the junction of celebrity, commerce, and politics in contemporary Ghana. . . . [S]cholars of contemporary African culture and aficionados of hiplife will find enlightenment.”
(Publishers Weekly)

“The scholarly passages are hung around lengthy, eminently readable sections that will appeal to anyone who might enjoy modern African music styles, and not necessarily those with a hip-hop bias. Even if you have no particular interest or liking for hiplife, this is an absorbing and very informative book.”
(Martin Sinnock Songlines)

“[A] fascinating foray into a complex world of musical production, the deployment of shifting technologies, and articulation of conceptions of entrepreneurial success that deserves wide attention and careful consideration…. Living the Hiplife offers readers an admirable mix of ethnographic detail and analytical discussion.”
(Nate Plageman Journal of Anthropological Research)

“[T]his study not only originally and brilliantly recognizes the role of the diaspora in this cultural field, but it brightly manages to let the audience speak back to cultural producers. Indeed, Shipley repeatedly succeeds in giving voice to these participants, from a local public transport conversation to online forums…. [H]is book significantly contributes to a much neglected field that is the economy of popular music in urban Africa; and I can only welcome and salute such a study, full of original insights, as a firsthand account from an obviously enthusiastic and dedicated participant.”
(Jenny F. Mbaye Africa)

About the Author

Jesse Weaver Shipley is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Haverford College.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (January 28, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822353660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822353669
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anne Balay on February 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book tells an interesting story about Hip Hop in Ghana. Though it's scholarly and well-researched, it's also fun to read, and full of stories and first-person experience. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about how music has shaped, and is shaped by, post-colonial Africa.
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By Pya Verrett on March 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These are real people with complex lives in Accra (the capital city of Ghana), trying to turn something they love into a viable living. They find connections to the lyrics and sound of NYC mc's but also formulate their aspirations in relation to the successes of the big names in American hip hop. They face challenges of gender, class, and mobility specific to the Ghanaian context. Shipley has lived with the artists, radio hosts, dj's, beatmakers, and producers of extraordinary talent in many cases, sometimes with little formal education, sometimes very well educated, sometimes parochial, mostly cosmopolitan. You find yourself pulling for the characters in Shipley's book, Reggie Rockstone, MzBel, M3nsa, and others, the most sympathetic of whom is, in some way, the city that they are all moving through.
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By loveshistory on March 2, 2013
Format: Paperback
Living the Hiplife invites a new understanding of the Global. It shows how major local icons achieve global reach with their art forms through the channels of emigration and diaspora. It's also an offbeat contribution to economic history, showing young African entrepreneurs operating in (1) informal economies, (2) the growing semi-formal economy of electronic self-promotion and sales, and (3) formal economic mechanisms of records labels, promoters, etc. There's something for specialists in cultural anthropology, undergrads, and anyone interest in the back-story of contemporary culture.
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