KNALEDGE | REINVENTING THE WHEEL: HIPHOP TIME TRAVEL
“Sitting with my old friend Jun Yo under the tree of wisdom as we fondly refer to the mango tree in our compound, we got to talking about Hip-hop in Uganda and what it would take to get it out there. What would it entail to make this art form a lucrative mainstream genre? I told him the usual narrative is the key. Make a hot song, promote it on the radio, shoot a music video that is of international broadcast quality and viola, you are at the top.”
About a week ago we posted on our twitter (@NuveyLIVE) about having guest articles from writers or Bloggers who are enthusiastic about Hip Hop and the related genres that NuveyLIVE deals with. As promised it is not yet February as we had hoped to start the initiative then. Nonetheless here is an interesting post that i went through and enjoyed reading as i was transitioned from one period of time to another. We are currently on our way to re branding and this is part of the initiative to engage our community, enjoy.
REINVENTING THE WHEEL by Uringi Godwin
Sitting with my old friend Jun Yo under the tree of wisdom as we fondly refer to the mango tree in our compound, we got to talking about Hip-hop in Uganda and what it would take to get it out there. What would it entail to make this art form a lucrative mainstream genre? I told him the usual narrative is the key. Make a hot song, promote it on the radio, shoot a music video that is of international broadcast quality and viola, you are at the top. He retorted, starting with that common opener, (I have heard it a million and one times). “The problem with you rappers in Uganda is that you want to reinvent the wheel. You want to take your songs to radio and television stations and forget the streets, the common man.” He had a valid point there. See in the US when hip-hop was coming up, the emcee had to prove himself in and around his neighborhood before he caught the ears of the record label that would propel him to star status. He had to make a name for himself in the ciphers in the park, the block parties, and the open mic nights and jump on DJs mixtapes. All these were platforms for the emcee to gain credibility among his peers and the locals
In the late 90’s and the early 2000’s when hip-hop was emerging from the depths of our bedrooms, we had DV8, KAOS and all these bars in town where we would rhyme, yes rhyme not mime, to hip-hop instrumentals. And that was how an emcee in Kampala made a name for himself as both a lyricist and a performer. That was before HOT100 opened the doors to radio acceptance. Like my man Lyrical G would say, it was all about skill back then. So, we can rightly credit these Kampala streets for being a part of the grass root development of Ugandan hip-hop. Big up to the indigenous rappers, mostly the luga flow emcees, still representing on these pot-holed streets. Yes I have seen quite a number out there.
Well, with that said, we must acknowledge that times have changed and there’s this little thing called the internet where emcees can generate a buzz for themselves. I am sure rappers like Enygma can testify to social media playing a pivotal role in boosting their careers. Actually all of us have testimonies on how the World Wide Web has revolutionized the music industry. Ask Lyrical proof where we would be without Reverbnation, Sound cloud, Facebook, Twitter, YOUTUBE, Whatsapp and the rest. Isn’t it amazing how rappers can instantly connect with fans? It’s like this cozy affair where your fans are now your friends. You share moments of your life with them through pictures and videos, you ask them what they want you to rap about in your next song, which producer you should work with and their feedback is instant. Not to mention the forums where you get to trade war stories with your fellow emcees, poets, promoters and other professionals in different vocations who could take your career to that next level. Social media has reinvented the wheel to jet power. John Aiiko, a communications specialist says social media has re-written the agenda. Everybody is people. Songs trend and stars are born.
I learnt from the hard way.
But, one constant aspect in this dynamic equation is stage performance. There is nothing more disappointing than an emcee with a dope song and doesn’t know how to perform it. This happened to me at my first Yeego night concert in 2013. I was so detached from the crowd because at the back of my mind I was thinking this is not a hip-hop crowd and they probably won’t get it. That was a huge mistake I learnt from the hard way. These were the people I was supposed to leave a lifelong impression and I blew it. From then on, I take my stage craft seriously and it’s starting to come naturally and I see the benefits. See, it’s going to take the whole package to make the emcee a spectacular entertainer. Every emcee has that X Factor; it just has to be honed. So let us use all these platforms at our disposal to get Ugandan Hip-hop the recognition it deserves and, remember, when they hand you that mic, and the beat comes on, and you have the crowd in your sight, be it 3 people or a 40,000 multitude, give them the performance of their lives.
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