Teddy Yo is a household name in Ethiopia. His rap career started with a group called the Gamo Boys, a group that launched is career but also held him back creatively. After he decided to go solo, his popularity and recognition as a rapper truly took off.
Yo is known for his unique style and beats from multiple parts of Ethiopia. Not only does he use smooth flows to appeal to more general audiences, he has thought-provoking lyrics that often show his deep, unconditional love for Ethiopia and Africa as a whole. This is very clear in songs like “Africa.”
Africa, from his 2018 album Arada, Vol. 2, is an upbeat, feel-good song about Africa’s culture, struggles, and beauty. The song comes from a place of admiration on Yo’s part, and his hopeful tone shines through in his music.
His hopefulness, however, is also met with his criticisms regarding race relations, politics, and how culture can be a negative as well as a positive. His second album, titled Prisoner, is about the culture of Ethiopia and Africa. The eighteen track album covers a multitude of subjects, but the driving force of it is his sobering lyrics and themes about society’s obsession with fame and the desire to make profound cultural impact. According to AllAboutEthiopia, Yo stated that the title itself “refers to those who are a prisoner of culture.”
His second album alone shows a level of nuance and sophistication not seen every day by other rappers. Yo was able to spark conversation through the very culture he loves so dearly.
Yo’s extensive knowledge of Ethiopian history and his ability to embody multiple flows, rhymes, and beats cohesively is what makes him one of the most recognized and beloved rappers in Ethiopia today. His appearances on channels like Hope Music Ethiopia, and his popularity from songs like Africa and perhaps his most popular, Gurageton (another fast-paced track) have not only made him an artist of great value in Ethiopia, but abroad as well.