Inspiration or Theft,how far can one borrow from a peer's art?
The debate on what is real and what is fake,what is inspired by and what is stolen is one that has never died down in hip hop both locally and internationally. How many rappers have you heard and said ooh the new Jigga is fire only to hear the dj announce the song as the latest project from your homy down the street. Questions have been asked of producers who have built entire careers on sampling and utilizing those Mike Will fruityloops presets, when sampling/borrowing from those around and those who came before how much is too much and when does it become straight up jacking?
The preacher in Ecclesiastes did say that nothing is new under the sun but rappers seem to have interpreted this verse wrongly. Many have recycled the same old themes over and over again and some take whole songs and change the english lines to shona. Ndakafa was a big hit from Maskiri but was it just a shona version of Tupac's thug mansion? Another Maskiri joint, Simba, seems to have been inspired by Immortal Technique's dance with the devil. They both tell the story of a nice kid who joins a gang and is asked to rap a lady to prove his allegience only to realise afterwards he has rapped his own mother. Even Jnr Brown,Tehn and Chita for all their creativity recycled Kendrick's Me and my homies in their hit,Boyz dzangu.
Style and rhymeschemes haven't been spared too. When Mudiwa switched to shona gospel raps,the Stunner in him became a scepter that has haunted him with accusations of fake even to this day. Marcques and Jnr Brown are another interesting case study,even in Marcques' recent anglo track Who gat next ,the trademark Breezy bassy voice and delivery is very much noticeable. To condemn the Draking sing-rap style as fake would probably give half these new school zimbabwean rappers minor strokes.And who can forget the yesteryear Mariachi who rode on the Jay-Z wave for so long it began to sound normal. Bulawayo hiphop especially in ndebele bears a strong resemblance to the Casspers and KOs of mzansi,then again Bulawayo and South Africa share a strong cultural bond.
The story does not end there as producers seem to have joined the fray.Maybe its the aforementioned fruity kits or just respect for international producers,Mustard,Dre,Lex Luger etc or its just producers following international trends.Occasionaly however producers cross the line as did Ftr on that Chimoio joint.That the chimoio beat was a rip off of Rozay's #FWMUKIGI is a fact headz the country over have agreed on.
We shall not even talk about lifestyles,jordans and other regalia donned by foreign cats which our local rappers have adopted albeit in Chinese form. At the end of the day following international trends and tapping into your favorite rapper's works for inspiration is not really bad but your individual style needs to shine through if the industry and populace alike are to respect you. Noone will respect a carbon copy, listen to them for a while yes but respect and gamechanging is a preserve of the rapper unashamed of his style and is ready to share his story with the world.