Hip Hop dance theatre gets its moment in the spotlight

A recent performance by Fazil on Yu's Hip Hop dance theater ensemble filled Uganda's National Theatre showroom with an unsettling crescendo of dramatic percussion soundscapes and deadpan spoken word poetry about Uganda's precarious status quo. With the "False manifesto, history is not the past "  show, Award-winni...

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Shakwa-Lumaasaba Hip Hop

Have a listen here to my song-"Shakwa". Loosely translated "Shakwa" means "Something has fallen". I am the pioneer of Luma-flow which is rap or Hip Hop in Lumaasaba, a dialect spoken in Mbale, Eastern Uganda.Shakwa is one of those songs that made me a household name in Mbale and its environs in the mid-2000s. I was already a legend on the Radi...

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Sexualized music videos debauching Uganda's young

At their own free will and on occasion as a requirement from the music video directors, their bodies are used as props to eroticize the music videos, your children regularly watch and imitate. With skintight crop tops, rompers, and other provocative lingerie, the young women, with the approbation of video scriptwriters, engage in objectifying ...

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The longer COVID-19 rears it's ugly head-The longer the Devil dances in the empty pockets of Ugandan musicians

Looking into my crystal ball, I can ably predict that the longer COVID-19 keeps rearing its ugly head, the scarier it will likely get for Ugandan musicians, specializing in genres, where getting appreciated, however hardworking one is, is akin to casting pearls before swine. For the Ugandan music industry in general and am just an innocent crystal ...

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Tsilomo-Supaman Wetaya


Have a listen here to some new Lumasaaba Hip Hop by Supaman Wetaya-This one is called Tsilomo [words].
It will be off his 5th album-Bityabirye [ How are things going]

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Linambo [Nation]


Have a listen here to Linambo [Lumasaaba for Nation]; a narrative and message-driven Lumasaba Hip Hop song-which speaks to the pressing issues in our country, in your home town, village, etc

It's off the album-Bityabirye [How are things going]




Have a listen here to some proverb-driven Lumasaaba Hip Hop Music, by Supaman, the trailblazer.

This song here is called Bulimundu [ Everyone] and comes off his 5th album-BityaBirye.

Masaaba chronicle puts a spotlight on some of the Ugandan Hip Hop industry's-best diss songs.

Rap music gets real exciting to listen to when diss songs between rival rappers are thrown back and forth.

Some of the best rap songs in Uganda have been diss songs; to wit-Atlas the African’s-Jealous Bi*tches and Babaluku’s-“Straight spit”.

Rappers are wordsmiths so needless to say, a real serious rap beef will escalate into a war of words.

Diss songs in rap are songs that deride the authenticity, flamboyance, charisma and lyrical ability of a rival rapper.  In the world of hip hop, originality is treasured and any forms of mediocrity in one’s word play or lyricism are frowned upon.

In the years of old, principally around the mid 80’s and mid 90’s, rap fans across the globe waited for rap beef songs, like 2pac’s “Hit em Up”, Ice Cube’s “No Vaseline” and Nas “Ether” with an almost hysterical sense of eagerness, akin to the Stella Nyanzi fans penchant for her insolent posts in the aftermath of her suspension from Makerere.

To boot; most of olden days rap beef songs were replete with petulant and sometimes humorous punch lines, poetics, threats and diatribes, just like Nyanzi’s posts.

Infamous as some of the diss songs were, they had great massive appeal and pushed sales units for 2pac, Ice Cube and Nas; just like Nyanzi’s posts gained her likes and followers.

The songs drew forth interest in hip hop and that was at a time when the fundamentals of the genre were starting to be compromised.

Increasingly the lyrical template for rappers at the time had become money, cars, women and clothes; subject matter that, in many ways, ran counter to the original template for rappers, which was addressing society’s ills. 

The only anticlimax after the release of 2pac’s “Hit em up” record in particular was that 2pac and Biggie Smalls, both undeservingly lost their lives.

2pac had accused Biggie and his posse of trying to kill him in a robbery in New York’s Quad studios.
2pac released hit me up in the aftermath of the robbery, in which he was shot 5 times.

Despite that dark chapter in rap history, rap beefs continued but mostly for the entertainment value.

Threats were thrown back and forth but nothing out of the ordinary happened. The beefs stayed on wax (on the records).

In Uganda, most rappers with bones of contention have chosen the subliminal way (indirect) when they make diss records, aimed at perceived rivals.

In a subliminal diss song, a rapper hardly name drops his rivals but when you listen close to the rhymes, there are broad hints of who is in his cross hairs.

Classic example has been Atlas the African with his numerous diss records aimed at Navio and his posse of the Mith and J.B.

The reasons that beef sparked off are still unclear but word from the grapevine was that Atlas felt he was not being given enough props (read Hip Hop for respect).

“Atlas was by then still relatively unknown in Uganda’s rap industry. He had created a buzz for himself with songs like “My Swag” and “Wait and See” but at length, he felt he had a bone to pick with the Navio camp and that is when he started releasing songs like illuminated,” Gideon Kibuka, a Hip Hop producer, tells Masaabachronicle.

In “illuminated” Atlas goes at Navio with ferocity; amongst other things, intimating that Navio is a comic who should be rapping at the comedy nights that used to be held at Effendy’s.

He also called out Navio for agreeing to appear on a child Molester’s song. The child Molester being R.Kelly and the song referenced was-“Hands across the world”. 
Needless to say, R.Kelly has been accused of being a sexual predator.

The word play that Atlas displayed in “illuminated was replay worthy and exciting. The song created quite a buzz for Atlas among some Ugandan rap fans especially the ones that always felt that Navio was over rated.
To the consternation of Navio fans, he did not release a rejoinder diss song.

A Navio response at that time would have fanned the flame that Atlas had sparked and would have given him chance to showcase his rap battling skills; which skills, Navio himself has said won him laurels in one of South Africa’s toughest rap battle events.

He lost that opportunity and needless to say, his detractors swung into action, saying he is not as lyrical as he thinks he is.

Atlas did not rest on his laurels after the “illuminated” record.

After a fight, reportedly at one of Kampala’s bubbling night spots, with J.B of Klear Kut, he went to the booth and released more verbal venom in a song, he called-J.B or “Jealous Bi*tch”.

Notice how he disparagingly played pan with the J.B initials.

“Fans who thought the J.B song was only aimed at J.B were mistaken as Atlas, as well threw verbal jabs at the Mith and Navio in the second and third verse. For a rap fiend like myself, that song manifested one thing, which was that Atlas is no joke lyrically,” Gladys Kituyi, an entertainment blogger, says.

Atlas went on to release other subliminal diss songs that did not get responses like “You got nothing on me,” and the more recent in “they still hating”
In “they still hating” Atlas again goes hard at Navio.

“If Navio or his crew had responded, it would have created a major buzz for Ugandan Hip Hop but they took a back seat; though some inside scoop had it that Navio had actually recorded rebuttal songs, but rap fans have never heard them,” Kibuka opines.

The Luga flow world has also seen its fair share of beefs.

Beefs that have brought out some phenomenal lyrical poetics and word play from the genre’s best.

Some that stand out include Babaluku’s “Straight Spit” where he lyrically annihilates the Lugaflow duo-Sylvester and Abrams.
In the song, Babaluku attacked Sylvester and Abrams as being run of the mill and calls them out for trying to trash his legacy as the pioneer of Lugaflow.

At the time, Babaluku was on a roll and “Straight Spit” cemented his place as one of the best, if not the best Lugaflow lyricist in Kampala.
As vicious and disparagingly as the song was, it did not get a rejoinder.

“It might have played into the hands of Sylvester and Abrams had they responded but it would have been a tough call for them to pit their wits against a talented rapper of Babaluku’s caliber. The subsequent subliminal diss song-“Twakugudemu” by Abrams, only released about a year ago was not strong enough lyrically and interms of delivery as well,” Ronald Odongo, a seasoned Blogger says.

Babaluku has not only been enmeshed in rap beef with Sylvester and Abrams. It is common knowledge that there is no love lost between him and Navio and his crew.

The most recent subliminal diss record from Babaluku was “Batulidewo” where he and Saba Saba-his cohort from the Bataka Squad fire off lyrical shots at any naysayers.

The other prominent Lugaflow beef has pitted new comer-St Nellysade against an old timer and veteran wordsmith in Mulekwa.

Rumours of beef between the two started doing the rounds after Mulekwa released “Abanno Bano” a diss track aimed at Nellysade.
In the song, he accuses Nellysade of jacking his style-literally meaning he stole his rap style.
Nellysade, as you can reckon, has not responded.

GNL, for his part, has also thrown off several subliminals at his competition but the braggadocio and hyperbole embedded in his verses at times makes it hard to make out who he is dissing.

Fans however easily discerned who his intended target was in the captivating songs-“Ceasar” and “Tebangatika”.
Gravity was in his cross hairs. No response has been heard from Gravity, thus far.

Other prominent Ug M.C’s that have been embroiled in beefs include Foeva emcee and Baboon Forest’s Tommy Race.
Code and Tucker H.D.


Rap song beefs are as old as the Hip Hop genre itself.

 (Hip Hop was started in the early 70’s in New York).

The first prominent rap beef saw rap legends Krs One and Mc Shan squaring off.

The two protagonists dueled over whose neighborhood was the best and who was the best lyrically. In the end, Krs One from the Bronx-New York came out on top. Shan was from the Queensbridge area of New York.



The past year was, without question, one of the best years for Hip Hop in Uganda.
As it drew to a close, the first ever Ugandan Hip Hop awards were held. A number of Uganda's elite Emcees (rappers) were rewarded.

If successfully holding the awards was not momentous for the much maligned genre, then I do not know what was.
The awards may just be the springboard that the genre needs to catapult to greater heights and for good measure; the impetus that Hip Hoppers; both male and female, need to put out quality music and videos.


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Where are they? Uganda's Rap Pioneers

Where are Uganda’s rap icons?

Lately, a group of young budding Hip Hop Hip Hop artists like Fefe Bussi, Rachel Rey and Da Agent have enjoyed considerable media attention, thanks to a trending rap battle song called-“Who is who”.

But whilst Bussi and his co get the laurels and shine for supposedly putting the spotlight back on Hip Hop with their “who is who” back and forth songs; hordes of the genre’s fans argue that the current crop of artists are not talented enough to transcend the legacy left by the genre’s forerunners.

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The Spell supposedly cast on Bugisus Musicians


"A work of real merit finds favour at last" so runs an old adage.
There are places in Uganda however where artists/musicians, find little to no favour at all, however good their craft or music is. Longevity does not do them any favours as well.
“I have been working hard all these years to perfect my craft, but I have faced long odds. Making believers and fans out of people here in Bugisu is really tough. To be appreciated here, one has to patiently wait like they wait for raindrops in a harsh drought,” says 35 year old Mbale Musician Betty Nafuna Salima(R.I.P).

Music fans in Bugisu have long become a by word for undermining local talent.
"Mbale music fans are like broken reeds," States Samuel Doto Bonzo, a local music critic and audio producer.
Even if an artist is as real as the air people breathe in, they will get suffocated by the lack of support.
Venerable artists like The late Phillip Massa, Rashid Musoke, Idi Masaba, Tom Namanda {R.I.P}, Juliet Mugirya, Tom Weboya, Tshila and San Crazy receive very few to no laurels at all, during performances or during radio interviews.
Local music fans here are unreliable and not receptive at all, says Wakhetenge Peter, an Auditor and Local music aficionado.

Thinking of starting a music career in Bugisu, you had better give it every bit of your second thought. I have seen music careers in Bugisu take nose dives. I have observed many Bagisu musicians worthy of a name looking destitute, broke and out of sorts. It is as if musicians here are under some spell, States Fred Wazemba, another of Mbale’s Premier Audio producers/artists.
“The prize of failure can be huge. It is only in Mbale where local musicians are criminally unappreciated and held in the lowest of regards. Fans in Mbale are indelicate. Somebody invests his money, making good music but you trash him with no benefit of doubt. It is not out of the ordinary to witness local musicians been booed off stage. The contempt music fans here have for local artists is just unprecedented and so pathetic,” Wazemba notes.
Favour from local fans is what every established musician in Mbale has been waiting on for ages but have not got. “Look at Idi Masaba, Betty Nafuna Salima and San Crazy, three of Mbale’s best musicians. They are testament to that harsh reality. Masaba, Salima and Crazy sing a genre of local music that appeals and resonates with the lowest common denominators in Bugisu, but they hardly draw big crowds at shows they organize,” states Doto Bonzo.

As it seems, the apathy and lack of appreciation is handed down from the past. It is going to take a lot of time bidding before our local artists are fully appreciated for their work like the artists in Buganda, Bonzo states.
“It just seems like the disdain towards local artists is set in stone. It is something that has been going on for a long time. Breaking that jinx is going to be hard. Besides grappling with the local fan scorn, artists too have to grapple with the lack of radio air play,” explains Bonzo

Notwithstanding that, however, Bugisu principally Mbale, is brimming with thoroughbred musical talent. Pick of the bunch artists like Idi Masaba, Betty Salima Nafuna, San Crazy, Juliet Mugirya, Elukana Wanzala, K-mas, Tom Weboya, B.B Jimmy are all household names in their own right, despite the lack of support.
The harsh reality though is that they have very little to show for their efforts.
Idi Masaba whose claim to fame has mostly been Imbalu folk songs, has bore the harshest brunt of the local fan aversion.
“You can literally wipe a smile off your face meeting Idi Masaba in the street. He is supposed to be our Jose chameleon but yuck. I mean here is a guy whose music resonates with so many people in Bugisu but he is all disheveled and untidy. If he was a success, he would not be in such an ebb state,” Wazemba says
“Idi Masaba is by far, the best musician to emerge out of Bugisu. Go for shows he organizes and the ones, visiting Kampala artiste’s organize however to see how criminally unappreciated he is,” says Nsubuga Joseph, a Radio host on Signal F.M in Mbale.

In recent memory, Idi Masaba’s star tends to go in the ascendant during the Imbalu year. That is, by reason that his imbalu songs resonate well with people. It is also during Imbalu season that his songs get some fair share of rotation on some radio stations, Nsubuga adds

The blame storms have brewed for long but in my opinion, Mbale’s radio stations are the most culpable in denying local artists a chance to shine, Wazemba says
“Most radio hosts are half hearted in their support. They hardly give Lumasaba music any rotation. The focus is always on Luganda music. They have the music in their music libraries but for some reason, they do not play it. If they do play it, it is just for a few minutes,” Wazemba stresses

Idi Masaba says he wants to leave a musical legacy. A legacy he says is one that speaks to the fact that when one sings in the Lugisu local dialect, they can impact and strike a chord with many, even if it does not necessarily translate into financial gain.
“The most important thing is my music speaking to people’s souls. I create and sing Music that is timeless and therapeutic. Music that can one can draw inspiration from,” Masaba says

With a repertoire of timeless lugisu songs in the vault, Idi Masaba will surely win laurels one day.

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