By Joe Penney
If you drive through the Mistra neighborhood of Bissau – the charming, ramshackle capital of Guinea-Bissau – signs of peoples’ love for American hip-hop are everywhere.
The local football pitch is named “California” after Tupac’s song “California Love.” Clothes reading “50 Cent” or “Thug Life” are commonplace, and Rihanna’s latest hits blare out from rusty radios beneath the mango trees.
While a fondness for American hip-hop is shared throughout West Africa (Tupac is nearly everyone’s favorite rapper), Guinea-Bissau’s unique cultural influences give it its own distinctive style.
A colony of Portugal until 1974, the small, West African nation maintains strong cultural and economic links to other Portuguese-speaking countries including Angola and Brazil.
As a result, Guinea-Bissau’s fashion sense is a mix of hip-hop, flamboyant Angolan “kuduro” style, and more traditional West African outfits.