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.
That said, hip hop in Ug still has a lot of leeway to make up before it takes center stage like the other genres, principally interms of appeal.
The pot boiler and watered down lyricism and subject matter that most rappers are embracing now may serve to inveigle more fans but in the long run, it is counterproductive as the art form will lose touch with its fundamentals, which call for veracity, not only in song subject matter but also in flow, song structure, imagery, word play, beat and delivery.
2016 saw some cracking hip hop music being put out and as one would expect, it was the more familiar names such as Ruyonga, Patrobas, Mulekwa, Engyma, Navio, Atlas da African, GNL, Pryce Teeba, Nellysade, Keko, etc that were doing the serving.
As to whether the songs put out in 2016 served to open newer horizons for the genre, is a moot point, depending on who you ask.
Some Ug rap aficionados have argued that Navio's Njogereza majorly pushed the envelope for the genre, last year. Yes it may have but (is that song hip hop anyway) and why was it not nominated anyway?
As a real hip hop acolyte, I also demur. By far, Navio's best song last year was Kigozi off that Pride album. You gotta give Navio his props. He personifies the word-buccaneer.
Navio works hard, probably the hardest working Ug hip hop artist ever.
It did not really come as a surprise when he won that male rapper of the year honor.
At the threshold of 2016, he also won the award for best hip hop song at the Hipipo awards for that Kigozi song.
Hip Hop purists nonetheless will subjectively argue ofcourse that there were better Hip Hop songs last year then Navio's Kigozi.
One song likely to broached up is Pryce Teeba's Side Zeno.
The Lugaflow up and comer; unequivocally cooked up a banger with Side Zeno. On that strengthen of that song alone; he firmly carved out a name for himself in rap circles.
It also did not come as a surprise when he won song of the year.
In 2016 Atlas the African, one of Uganda's other rap juggernauts released phenomenal gems in "New day" feat Lilian, Tsunami, and the Navio diss track song or is it reality rap as he calls it entitled-"They still hating".
For some strange reason however, Atlas's songs still do not get the push they deserve, yet you could easily argue that he is a better emcee than Navio and the other numerous English rappers we have.
Other notable emcees who contributed to a strong 2016 for Ug hip hop but were or have not been given their props are Mulekwa, GNL, Engyma, Ruyonga, Foeva emcee, Patrobas, Tucker HD, etc.
Mulekwa and Engyma dropped a scorcher in "Who killed Hip Hop".
It's a sure shot rap song that only true rap heads and aficionados can fathom.
Patrobas also blessed the Ug rap sphere with 256, a song where he raps about his affinity for our dusty metropolis-Kampala.
He followed that with a club banger in the song-I do feat A-Pass and the conscious rap song-This world with Ruyonga.
Tucker dropped that piping hot track-Calm before the storm.
Producers have also upped their ante. Chief among them being Baru. Baru produced heat (hot beats) for rhyme juggernauts such as Ruyonga and Patrobas.
By and large, 2016 was a good year for Ug hip hop though more and more emcees need to break the mould and innovate more, especially in terms of lyrical content and depth.
Producers too will need to step up.