Kabelo Chirwa

Kabelo Chirwa is a graduate assistant and PhD candidate in the musicology program at University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music. He is an Albert C. Yates fellow at University of Cincinnati and received a Future of Music Faculty Fellowship from Cleveland Institute of Music. In his dissertation, Kabelo is interested in twenty-first century methods of community formation in Nigerian hip-hop. Nigerian hip-hop offers an example of how non-western communities repurpose technologies primarily built by western institutions to cultivate a technoculture that more closely resembles the social structures and social interactions of said non-western community.

Kabelo has presented on ideas of cultural transmission between Africa and the diaspora in Tanzania and at the African Studies Association Conference. At the 2022 International Association for the Study of Popular Music conference he gave a talk on the ways that Black Americans formed community during the COVID-19 lockdown through music in digital spaces. Kabelo’s talk at the Theorizing African American Music conference focused on compositional techniques that hip-hop producers use to shape the songwriting process and guide listener experiences during a song.

As a Malawian immigrant that has spent the majority of his life in the United States, Kabelo has always been drawn to the connections between African and African American cultures and how digital technology facilitates these connections. He plans to continue exploring discussions of twenty-first century social imaginaries and music-making that are typically framed within Anglo-American or Euro-centric perspectives and address the relevance and impact of African communities.