Pryce Teeba put it clearly on his 2015 wrap up that “open Letter ya double L te’bajiiwa matu” which loosely translates to: LLYBOC’s Open Letter was not listened to or attention to it was nonexistent as per Teeba’s view. Yes it wasn’t listened to due to a number of projects that were highly anticipated including; the UG Cypher 2 which LLYBOC had summarized in a mathematical equation upon its release, other projects overshadowed it too especially the projects from Ntinda rappers and major releases at the time it was released.
For anyone who listened to Ntinda Anthem, vibed to it and somehow felt a part of Ntinda (even though you don’t hail from there),-and when you listened to Open Letter and King Of Brokenness and asked yourself questions on whether LLYBOC is against everybody_ Shame on you. On Ntinda Anthem LL clearly puts, “I don’t follow rules” and in a conversation I engaged in with him and rapper AJO (sometime last year) he always spoke with this very attitude. This doesn’t mean he will wake up to break the law, but it’s his way of expressing himself through hip hop spoken form rap, which is a form that he has artistry in for a rapper like him.
Of course the part I should start answering is what this article is about starts here. LLYBOC might be among the few Ugandan rappers whose art can be critiqued for what they are, or their form. And for starters Formalism is a literary theory that seeks for answers within the produced. Looks at a text (art, in this case hip hop) for what it is and in most cases critiquing it within its genre and ideally ignoring other aspects such as the author or his background. Now how this is related, you may ask? True! For this case we substitute all LLYBOC’s work for the TEXT or that piece of ART. In this case I am mostly interested in Open Letter and King of Brokenness which a number of fans didn’t react too positively or even viewed as a rappers weakest form of expression WHY?
When some call him a mere name dropper on his tracks or say he is only calling out Ruyonga, Lyrical G or Benny and Severe, the question we tend to erase is how does he do that? As a lyricist he doesn’t make the statements lightly and easily arrived to because these are all manifestations of a conscious writer (at least for the stylistics of LL underlined in his emcee pen). I mean you never see it coming which he admits to himself-“you never see it coming like Mc Kats dating Fille” on King of Brokenness. His work has been this type that is bold; making statements and for him satisfaction I guess for lacing these intelligent words for good flows.
When King of Brokenness was released on 2nd August, 2015 the reaction to it was obviously fair to the piece of art. Realistically was a dedication to those who tried and never made it up, those successful and bound to probably break. In the lyrically dexterous verses he invokes us to believe we are Kings in our brokenness and this is possible because he mastered the craft of capturing attention with outstanding lines that you never see coming. The beat simply suits his delivery and he sounds broken too when “he gets the flow” a line he uses to show off his ability.
“Baby am the Shit…” he brags about his skill if we translate this further he is a braggadocio here and since, many rappers are respected for having a clear delivery LLYBOC is no exception. If you remember the time when windeck remix which featured former college Tucker Hd (of Airportaxi), Peter Miles and Navio you will acknowledge the raw LL, whose skill set of metaphorical vicious lyrics and unapologetic topics have continued to grow even if psychologically he might be broken due to the course of events, pressure and devastating remarks (which he best responds to through this form, RAP MUSIC). But of course it the TEXT we are concerned with.
King Of Brokenness
Then the worst came (as hip hop fans) Open letter was ignored for various reasons that for the sake of Form weren’t satisfying enough. The images that he sought to paint seemed to come out of anger and his higher expectations that for anyone who bothered to look beyond their favorite rapper being blessed with nasty descriptions. If you are to reexamine the content of Open Letter, is it different from the attitudes on Hot 100 another track that seemed like, yet a name dropper’s opportunity to mess with the hot 100 staff then. The ability to observe and create is what LLYBOC is about actually. So the content within the music is created is what many seem to ignore.
If the whole industry decided to answer back LLYBOC I don’t think they would match the art this rapper has decided to assign himself to, it’s a form of his that requires him not to “kiss A**” which if I am to remind you is another translation of LLYBOC doesn’t follow rules. If we are to psycho-analyze him however it’s likely that the world he creates might be exactly what he thinks of the given art (Hip Hop), his feelings are expressed despite their nasty appeal and insulting notions that many tag his work to. And since failure to look at the text (hip hop as art) and to analyze the lyrics exposes our hip hop fans (who aren’t always interested in lyrically heavy music). We do know lyrics are part of form aren’t they?
To put this argument more clearer; task yourself to listen to any of LL’s works and especially his Open letter not from the point of view of a skeptical fan of hip hop but, listen for the purpose of discovery, for the sub-genres sake,( Rap/Real Hip Hop) and see what you shall discover. Once again Formalism works that way, even though this attempt to use a literary theory (Formalism) to make people appreciate hip hop, by trying as much to be objective guess must be the first time and challenging thing to do.
To understand LLYBOC; it has to be through listening to his work rather than pay a lot of unnecessary time on his personality for approval. The young man is as talented as anyone good in the industry but doesn’t mean he doesn’t need some clean off and redemption.
Links else where: Formalism