Are Ugandan Rap Battles Dead?

Are Ugandan Rap Battles Dead?

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2015 was an amazing year if you asked me. It was the year I seriously opted to drop everything else I blogged about and focused on Hip Hop, Poetry and Spoken word. The three mentioned items make up the soul of what we do hear at NuveyLive.

I had been writing before on so many things but ever since 2015 I realized so much was out there in the scene of rhythm, poetry and more – if you are reading this you know I haven’t stopped the narrative. About 2015; yes! Rap battle had resurface back and at an all time high.

I remember Shemy B hosting a hip hop night at Swagger Lounge (which closed shop) every Wednesday. Crowds were enticed every week to attend the budding Hip hop night in my town. Luzira for a minute wasn’t about the prisoners – there are industrial parks – you know.

There was a potential battle night. Port bell Drive had its hand in the making. However the management of the hangout gave up and moved elsewhere. That’s how we lost the night. With the speed of a hi hat, another rap battle outfit emerged. There came the 256Barz Battle League, URL and so many others that didn’t make it to the main stream.

At around June to August (2015- 2016) the battles were gaining attention especially the Uganda Rap League (URL). The battles were filmed and prizes were also in the mix. The most important battle that occurred at Swagger Lounge was between Pryce Teeba and 207. URL had Shemy B vs Jay Sentino and I never imagined the simile by Shemy: “Career yo elinga ekitone kya Fasie” [Your career is like Fasie’s uum uuum”].  I am a huge fan of Fasie and this line left me wondering whether I should be crossed or think of the hyper-creativity and extreme that comes with battles.

Payne Keelah vs Eddie

A massive stream of consciousness, creativity and tasking the subconscious to send bars or ideas to the dome – is remarkable at these battles. The derogatory, braggadocio and with are some of the things that are outputted. A rapper with cadence is hailed. The sad part is that these battles have decreased or are poorly handled due to many reasons.

A while ago Payne Keelah called out any one interested in battling (him) and as you may guess; there was a slow response to his challenge. Battle rapping is growing so fast as now a sub-genre globally and it is a controversial activity, when fans disagree who murdered the other.

The love of finances over the culture and, also the love of the culture over anything else, but with no finances is just an irony for us.

I heard of the Ground Zero Battles, which ideally are not yet stable as an entity but struggling to stay a float. They are promising. Some battle organizers make many mistakes that they may not be aware of: Poor event management, limited creativity into the concept of the event and hiccups.

Imagine an event with  poorly layered out fliers or graphic work? Little noise for the event? Besides the little professional handling of the events (there isn’t a course for organizing battles) inference is always required from other spheres. It is high time battle rap is treated as a major event which needs much effort.

The times are hard and the economic demand is according to many it is the financial aspect killing the battles. The love of finances over the culture and, also the love of the culture over anything else, but with no finances is just an irony for us.

When an emcee is mad talented  and  yet he has no sufficient funds to run campaigns or do a full length project is similar to a kid in love with Dj-ing without equipment: Also the graffiti writer without a spray can. To our battles; the lack of support in form of finances, material and more reinforcement is on a low.

We cannot of course despise the strides that some people have made: Shout out Oki Foever ( will have URL back), Cheno Billy of 256 Bars  Battle League and others. An understanding of the challenges should encourage us.

Any one interested in starting up one league (like in sport) needs to be ready for the challenges and needs to understand the terrain of rap battles in Uganda. What we need is a re-organization and much stake holder participation for the culture.

The spirit is dying, rap battles can be resurrected!

Featured photo: Papa Shot it

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