Uganda: New label captures the spirit of the region with fresh releases

Uganda’s new music label, Nyege Tapes is making waves in the underground music world with its release of electro sounds from East African artists Alai K (Kenya) and Otim Alpha (Uganda).

Riddlore. Photo: fingersonblast.com
Riddlore. Photo: fingersonblast.com

The Kampala-based label, affiliated to the annual Nyege Nyege International Music Festival is intent on exploring, producing and releasing outsider music from around the region, thus reasserting ownership of the contemporary music narrative of the region, while also making a home for music that doesn’t fit into the commercial mainstream.

Alai’s EP Boutiq Electroniq was released on 2 January 2017 while Alpha’s Gulu City Anthems, a body of work recorded over the last 11 years, will be released on 15 February. However, a sample track, ‘Bilaber’ is available for streaming via the free Bandcamp app.

Also released in January is legendary LA based underground MC and beat maker Riddlore’s reworking of African field recordings in Afro-Mutations. The captivating digital album with 14 singles brings a new Afro inspired bass sound and was recorded at the Boutiq Studios in Kampala between August and November 2015. The eclectic sounds range from the hypnotic electronica of ‘Mad Is’ and ‘Afroed’ to the tribal chants of ‘Soul Clap SA’ and ‘ LA UG’ to the jamming Afro-spiritual sound of ‘Who’s Gonna Be 2’.

The music is available as digital downloads and limited edition pro-dubbed cassettes on https://nyegenyegetapes.bandcamp.com.

“Riddlore has been producing underground music since the mid 80s when hip-hop and freestyle blew up on the West Coast of the US. We invited him to Uganda for three months to visit and collaborate with East African artists, and during his residency he produced Afro-Mutations,” said festival cofounder, Derek Debru.

Since 2001, Otim Alpha and his producer Leo Palayeng have been taking traditional Acholi wedding songs and reinterpreting them with music software on computers. The result is a fast paced poly-rhythmic version of folk Acholi music christened Acholitronix.

Alai, on the other hand, was a member of Nairobi’s defunct pioneer hip-hop group, Ukoo Flani, and is promoting a sound he calls Disco Vumbi, fusing chakacha music from the Kenyan coast with benga and electronic dance music. His songs, ‘Disco Boutiq’, ‘Ukuti’, ‘Rastafari’ and ‘Didi at Night’ were produced during his residency with Boutiq Foundation in Kampala and feature Ugandan instrumentalists Martin Juicy Fonkodi and Nilotica Drum Ensemble.

“Our label is also coupled with our studios and residency program, where we invite Ugandan and foreign producers and artists to come and work on new material.

“Besides Alai-K from Kenya and Riddlore from LA, we’ve had Batuk from South Africa, Joey le Soldat from Burkina Faso, Mamman Sani from Niger and many more, all working together with Ugandan artists at our studios.

“Many projects are currently at a later phase of production, and hopefully they will come out on Nyege Tapes in the coming months,” said Derek.

Follow this link to listen to Riddlore's and Alai's music on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/nyege-nyege-tapes.

Watch the video of Alai-K's 'Rastafarai':

 

 

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