THE STATUS QUO IN UGANDA’S HIP HOP INDUSTRY 2014
Putting out flash in the pan,
pot boiler and disposable hip hop content is fast becoming a trend in Uganda’s growing Hip Hop Landscape.
Experienced Hip Hop listeners will concur on one glaring reality. Hip Hop’s influence in Uganda has of recent, grown and is still growing by amazing leaps and bounds. Evidently though, the progression has not come without minuses and blemishes
“Most Ugandan hip hop artists are inadvertently or advertently living off a stereotype. Currently there is just nothing refreshingly new under the Ugandan hip hop sun. Whether it is the established or the novices, nobody seems intent on breaking certain stereotypes known about Ugandan hip hop. Few emcees are keen on breaking the mould. Few are keen on innovating. Few are keen on snapping out of the wannabe bracket.
Why? It is just because their less than impressive talents are little sparked flames that can be blown out first, real first, states Muyenga based Hip Hop aficionado and audio producer Kityo Ronald
Talent is a flame, Genius is a fire. A fire that can not easily be extinguished
Emceeing requires skill. A skilled emcee requires a gift of gab. A gift of gab is an integral calling card for a Hip Hop emcee. Skills in thought provoking poetry should also be part of that package. Once that is complete, an emcee will personify the word genius, Kityo adds
There are a handful of skilled and unadulterated Ugandan Hip Hoppers who are an exception to the argument here, however. Emcees you listen to and feel proud that Ugandan Hip Hop can still go places. To wit--Sulfuric, Kedford, Lyrical G, Ruyonga.
With their trump card flair, they should be the life and soul of Hip Hop in Uganda but as it seems, it’s only Ruyonga bustling. Sulfuric and Kedford seem to have taken back seats.
With un-engaging flows, feigned accents and subpar production, every wack Ugandan emcee’s set aim and objective, is or has been to conjure up a radio friendly hit. To get some media buzz is always the upshot
Clichéd, shopworn, recycled and simple minded song concepts and subject matter have become all too common place.
The growing art form has not been spared the fogazzi gimmickry and mediocrity pervaded in the other more popular musical genres.
Making corny and rushed songs that seemingly strike a chord and resonate with the gullible Ugandan fan is now a means to an end, for the wack, conceited and blind spot Ugandan rappers like Gravity Omutujju, Keko, Young Zee, Santana, Mun G and many more other Johnny come lately’s. Their objective is to make profit, not to make the listener lay to heart real issues that true hip hop is supposed to embody.
Skill wise, many of today’s established and budding Ugandan rappers are just plain corny, mawkish and run of the mill. “Many dudes who lay claim to Uganda hip hop, in this day and age, personify two things, mediocrity and unoriginality. Hip hop requires some diction skill. It requires some wit, some grit and bars of substance. It is just not about putting some rhyming English or Luganda words together. It is just not about using gimmicks and weak concepts because you want to sell records and tap into a certain niche,” explains Kityo
Kityo may not be the only one who gets a disgusted Kumbaya feeling when he turns on his Hot 100 radio dial to check out, what is piping hot new and banging in Ugandan Hip Hop
Local Hip Hop Blogger Odongo Ronald says he equally is aghast when he listens to today’s hip hop content.
“It does not make sense to me if you do not stay true to the essence. If you do not stay true to the fundamentals, you lose me. Look at Keko, she came out good, better than most male emcees, but she fell off real bad. Mun G, Navio, Gravity, St Nellysade, Engyma and most other budding cats are all Jokes and lames to me. Having your song playing on the radio does not make you real,” Odongo says
Some friends i shoot the breeze with often, argue that every wise emcee’s game plan, in this economically harsh environment, is to make music that appeals to the low common denominator, more like how GNL Zamba endeavored to appeal to the corporates when his star was in the ascendancy.
Some may argue that Mun G, Navio, Keko, Navio Gravity, Santana are good strategists. Products of a harsh Ugandan environment. An environment where Hip Hop is still held in a low regard and where it can be hard to push a hip hop career. An environment where only songs with danceable beats and simple lyrics work for the majority of our folks.
“Well not by any long shot are they good strategists. Making popish and kandadalish songs when you claim you represent hip hop, only casts you in a slurred light. An emcee who desecrates what he claims to represent is a lame. The bluff of these lames has to be called and in earnest,” Kityo adds
Not many Ugandan Hip Hop fans have been convinced about Gravity’s, Mun G’s or Keko’s authenticity and veracity on the Mic, despite the hoopla about them.
What has been Mun G’s, Keko’s or Gravity’s claim to fame? That can be a moot point, needless to say. But if you use wise intuition, it is easy to discern, i don’t need to prove that to you.
What is factual and can not be disputed nonetheless, is the fact that skill wise, the threesome, like many others, are just average.