“My culture, I am the voice for my people, representing my people…” Corp Zak, Black MC and Rappa Blutit announce in the new compilation: Hip Hop Boot Camp Music Vol. III, a multilingual 10-track album that brings together 13 rappers selected from various parts of Uganda. The album is a result of a two-week training organized by Bayimba Foundation and supported by the Royal Danish Embassy in Kampala and the Danish Centre for Culture and Development.
The album boasts of youthful rappers ebbing with unprecedented ambition, raw energy and street bravado as they make music along socially conscious themes. Each song is a collaborative effort as two or three rappers weave their lyrics. Hip Hop Boot Camp Music Vol. III is a platform of youthful ideas and dreams. Apart from English, the artists use various native languages spoken in Uganda, including Iteso, Lusoga, Luganda, Runyankole, Rukiga, Rutooro, Kumam, Ngakarimojong, Lugbara, Lugisu and Luo.
The first single off the album, ‘My Culture’ featuring Corp Zak, Black MC and Rappa Blutit, has the rappers put on their traditional attire as the producers effortlessly fuse traditional elements into the songs.
Elsewhere on the album, ‘Twijya’ (Come) gives listeners firmly cements that this is an eventful ride and the rappers have come to take you on an eventful sojourn of the Ugandan cultural landscape. The song is carefree, oozes a lot of energy. It blares off with whistling and pounding drumbeats as the rappers call the listeners to join the dance.
'Jing Cwinyi' (loosely translated to 'be courageous') tackles the pressing problem of youth unemployment in the country, estimated at over 85%, against a gritty beat. Totem MC, Jay O and Black MC perform a self heart surgery as they effortlessly bring the simmering, agonized screams of the youth in the country. Black MC calls upon the youth to work unceasingly like clockwork. The other singles - ‘Etic’, ‘Work Harder’ and ‘Aparaka’ - echo the same message.
‘Ekyaalo Kyo’ (meaning 'your village/hometown') is likely to get listeners swaying to the beat. The song starts off with a soothing melody of a keyboard piano before condensed beats of a drum envelopes it in the background hence giving the song a slow pace. This is a strong element for an energetically charged compilation as it forms a soft textured background, onto which the rappers bring out their narrative skills. This allows the collaborating artists Corp Zak and Fenrico Lugga to hilariously castigate the youth who abandon their villages for urban centres, where they change their names and only return home for burial ceremonies! It is indeed a truth by the artists as it reflects the situation of the present-day reality, where young people are engulfed in identity crises, low self-esteem and a gross lack of respect for cultural values.
There are low moments on the album, however. While the artists are still developing their skills in recording, there are pitfalls such as some artists breathing in between the performances. In ‘Aparaka’, for example, one of the artists can be heard breathing heavily in between the rhyming. By listening to this track one gets the feeling that the artist was not yet ready for recording. But all in all, the fact that they are courageous enough to share their work makes all the difference.
“A breakthrough is a gradual process for any artist. It is a pity that young people do not take advantage of the opportunities by the Bayimba Foundation,” observes Sylvester Kabombo, the album's executive producer and hip-hop coordinator at Bayimba. He adds that once an audio CD is released, very few artists take time to share their music online, hence not many people can access it. The Bayimba Foundation therefore ensures that the artists who participate in the program can promote their music through live performances.
The camp is an intensive, multilingual, two-week residential workshop aimed at conveying music industry skills to talented musicians who have the potential to break through and become successful in the music sector. The sessions are hosted by a variety of facilitators offering a varied programme in various aspects of the music business. Every year the camp hosts male and female rappers from 11 districts of Uganda to record music, acquire various skills, network and share knowledge about hip-hop culture (and culture in general) in Uganda. Last year’s event took place between 2 and 13 November 2015 in Mbale, eastern Uganda.
Hip Hop Boot Camp Music Vol. III is available from Reverbnation.