Hip Hop In Uganda (The History) HipHop in Uganda has continually grown and diversified as a culture. It all began in the early 90’s and by mid 90’s records had started dropping. As early as 1995 Makerere students formed a group Snag’O captained by the late Legend Lumix Da Don.
The first UG HipHop album came out in 1996 titled “THE SPIRIT OF UGANDA”.The album cover had a bottle of Uganda Warag was done by The Legendary group YOUNG VIBEZ (Young Vibrations) spear headed by the legendary Dlux Ibraw.
The Late tycoon Kasiwukira, one of the best music promoters of the 90’s once contacted the legendary Dlux Ibraw to buy his first HipHop Album, but Ibraw and the tycoon did not agree on monetary terms. But this did not stop Kasiwukira who went on diplicating the album from C. D to tapes and started selling it to Ugandans at shillings 1500 without Dlux Ibraw’s consent. For absence of the cooyright law Ibraw didnt go to courts of law he instead started giving out free cd’s on every show he went.. Back in the days around early 90’s to the year 1995, the Legendary group Young Vibez had made a name from this alien genre of music. At one time in 1995 Young Vibez was performed alonside the legendary AFRIGO BAND at Sheraton Hotel. While backstage after their performance the group met one of the Afrigo Members the late Amigo Wawawa who gave a remark of how great their performance was. He then advised them to call their style “Lugha Flow“. Lugha translates to ‘language’ in Swahili because the group rapped in various languages. That’s when they started calling it Lugha Flow but it later was dieing away since the whole group flew off to Sweden no one was left to represent the style.
In 1998 Babaluku came to his resurrection with his Bataka Squad but this time it was not just Lugha Flow it transcended to Luga Flow. Luga was short for Luganda a language which the Bataka used to rap with. Babaluku along with him from Canada came with notes about Hip Hop and started a school for Hip Hop The Bavubuka Dynasty. Babaluku started teaching kids luga flow from door to door, region to region and he globalized the term Luga Flow. It should be however, noted Babaluku used to call himself snipperous Mc before he changed it to Babaluku.
Crazy Native a.k.a Saba Saba born Alex Kirya from the Legendary group Bataka Squad, brought up a hit single in underground called ‘Tujja Babya’ in the 90’s, Tujja Baabya became a UG slung upto now. Nearly around the same time or later was the Klear Kut a Hip Hop group which represented mainly from the Uptown using English and had a one Papito the only rapper known to have used French. It connsisted of the Mighty Navio, The Mith, JBaller and Papito . Who went on to even win a Kora Music Award for the most promising group in 2002.
Although Lyrical G born Kintu Geofrey was the first English rapper to ever rise to the mainstream in the early 2000’s. The former Bataka Underground Rapper broke through with hit song East African Party. He was signed by Steve Jean one of the only two Hip Hop producers ever known in Uganda by then, the other being Producer Kiwa. LG became reknowned in East Africa and could not miss on the lists of any event in Uganda and around the region. He inspired some of the Old Heads like Big Sam Yiga confesses. He is the one that paved way for Navio who found a softer ground to lay his music. Bava Studio was the first studio to record Hiphop rap in Uganda to where some of the songs from the first ever Hiphop album were recorde, mixed and mastered. The studio was found inside Sabrina’s pub located along Kampala Road although the studio later shifted to Lungujja later. Hope Mukasa a Hiphop producer owned the building of Sabrina’s pub and for his love of Hiphop he gave it a home.
Sabrina’s pub is where Hiphop gatherings were held absolutely free of any charges. The first Annual HipHop Summit was held at Sabrina’s Pub year 2003 and in 2005 HipHop Summit was a blast, -“I remember very well, Bobi Wine (but now Honourable Kyagulanyi Ssentamu) attended that Summit, by then Bobi had beef with Ragga.D” Big Sam tells the story. When Bobi reached the stage, this was his speech/quoted,”in respect to the HipHop fraternity in Uganda, am not going to sing any known song of mine on a HipHop stage, let the D.J play any underground HipHop beats he got”he went on and and dissed Ragga. D for dissrespecting the HipHop culture, that ”he should stay real, he doesn’t know HipHop”, Bobi Wine performed and Freestyled three HipHop beats nonstop while mixing his Jamaican patois, and some small Luganda metaphors. The first street bash/carnival was held at DV8 Wilson road, was closed and 90% of the content showcased was HipHop.
This HipHop show was organised by STRAKA who as well was the Emcee. The event was headlined by the following HipHop acts; -Bataka Squad, De Squad, Klea Kut, Silvester and Abramz, Nizzy-X etc. The first rapper who first recorded rap in his native Language from Western region Uganda was Micheal Batu Akuli a.k.a Mutooro with a Riffle who was a part of the Legendary group Young Vibez/ Milestones. Although some critics mention the late Jimmy Bageire a.k.a Mc Afric but it’s not certain whether he ever laid rhymes in his own language, he used to rap in English. But Mik Cheng was the first rapper to put out a record in studio in his native language ‘Rutooro’.
T-bro a.k.a Mukiga Yinama inspired many Western Rappers to believe in their native languages because he became so famous for his Kiga Flow. Matter of fact he is the founder of the Kiga flow and back in the days he had a grouo named Knee Pad together with Dez-P composed a duo although P used to rap in English, Luganda and Spanish. P later left the duo to join Young Vibez/Milestones. T-bro is well known for his verse on the hit Song True Man Hood which he featured in alongside Aziz Azion, Gnl Zamba and Lumix the Don. Although the underground well respects him for his Hiphop song Song ‘Gisndike Kigangstar’.
Just like USA Hiphop had Russel Simmon, Uganda had Shadrack Kuteesa a.k.a Shady son to the late city tycoon Kafumbe Mukasa. He is the man that turned the culture into a business by promoting it and with his label he signed a great number of rappers. Platinum Entertainment got a lot underground go mainstream though some failed. He is the man behind projects like ‘Leo’ the song by Juakali from Kenya, AY from Tanzania and Babaluku from Uganda. He tried to connect all the different rappers in East Africa and selling Ugandan Hiphop to East Africa. He has signed and made some of the biggest recent names in the Uganda Hiphop music industry the likes of Gnl Zamba, Keko, Don Emcee there’s more to mention but those are some of the few. While some presenters here give little to no air play to underground HipHop on their radios but Batt Badru who works with talk and talk show Team on Dembe F.M, worked hard back then for Ugandan HipHop to be played on radios in Kenya and Tanzania, UG HipHop in those neighboring countries started getting recognition and being played in their count downs just because Batt had put in his hard work. Mr Geoffrey Jeff Ekongot was the Chairman of Uganda HipHop foundation back in the days, and he used to hold weekly meetings at DV8 club/bar. He pointed out some issues that i still remember very well to uplift the HipHop culture in Uganda. Just like today you see these HipHop cameramen capturing most of the HipHop events, the likes of Gilbert, Sparrow, Kibazzi, Nes. G, Mcm Evo, Rapherz, etc, in oldskool days we had Cyruss De Virus Some of of the names of the rappers that put in the work are;
Silvester and Abramz and before they became a duo they had a group named – S.R.A.Z UNION this consisted of; Silvester a.k.a Kabombo Sylvester, Raphidaz GB Daz, Abramz, Zac Fourty Zak Fortay. Hanny Rymes and Crazy Rymes. They called them selves De Double Rymez. These rappers came from the hood Bakuli and had two street hits songs “Ekikusigula and Zisiwuse”. This rap duo inspired many rappers during that time.
Rocky Giant, though some underground hardcore HipHop funs do not feel a brother, because of the taste of the beats he uses. But In this game he paved way for some luganda spitters with his unique style of rapping. He took lugaflow down in the villages most of the rappers only hear about, he laid some bricks for the foundation of what Ug HipHop is today. Rappers like Drama Sido, Mark Big Barley, Nizzy-X, Supeflow, Joe Pac-X, Ruggz to mention but a few also gathered around Sharing Hall Nsambya. Very few females endulge in UG HipHop, but Lets appreciate these femcess down, did a great job in HipHop and rap in UG for Femceeing back then; –Straka, Lady Slyke, Mc Yalla, Milka, MC Lite (R.I.P), Queen Compius. Some left the game but lets give round of applous for these two Ladies; LadySlyke UG and Mc Yallah are still holding it down.
Though straka is a presenter and an emcee now, but She was a good performing Femcee rapper with a good flow and a good looking HipHop face plus figure back then. She had a HipHop appearance Well even after alll this hard work of all the rappers the first Music Awardz, PAM AWARDZ Uganda first had, Diss-respected the HipHop culture of Uganda by giving Bebe Cool and Obssessions, the accolades/awards as the best HipHop artists/groups. Put some respect on these two names for being consistent, and their longetivity in the game; they are the only oldskool rappers who are still active, releasing songs, performing on UG HipHop shows, in this new Skool era;
Mulekwa Nampeera of Abe’nganda Clan, Big Sam of Abaana Be’ka Camp. Break Dance, B Boy one of the elements of Hiphop is very popular in Uganda. It is believed that Abramz Tekya is the one that started it in Uganda but you can not skip mentioning Herbie Skarbie. Born Herbert Kawuma a.k.a Baby Herbie by then he was too young. He was a full time Bboy, break dancer attimes he could rap. He always showcased new techniques of the Hiphop dances on the streets, and other gatherings. He is the founding father if this type of dance in Uganda and he inspired so many other people to learn the dance. Skarbie flew off to Norway where he owns a BBoy/Break Dance Music School that teaches kids dance in Oslo, Norway. BREAK DANCE B-BOY one of the elements of HIPHOP DeeJaying is an element of Hiphop and the following are the Dj’s who used to play music on HipHop events back in the days;- Dj Mark Label, DJ Momo (R.i.p), Dj Rickie, Dj Willy, Dj Racheal the only Dj we had who was female at that time. These Deejays used to perform live scratches on real Lps whose mixing skills rely on use of computers. From year 2007 the coming of
GnL Zamba who mainstreamed Luga Flow and attained commercial success that is regarded New skool Hip Hop and various Rappers have emerged to represent. Shemy B, LJd Alkaliba, E.I, Mun G, Pryce Teeba, just to mention a few still do Rap in lugaflow. New skool English rappers, Ruyonga, Atlas D’African, Big Tril, Tucker Hd holding it down for English Rap; To mention but a few.
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