The Smallest Rapper Made the Biggest Impact

Breaking News! The identity of “The Smallest Rapper” has been revealed to be Kampala’s very own Feffe Bussi. This producer and songwriter began his musical career in 2013 but 2018 was truly his year to shine. You may have known him as the latest recipient of the 2019 UG Hip Hop Award for Best Male Rapper and 2018 MTN Hip Hop Award for Male Rapper of the Year. The song that will probably define his career for a while is called “Who Is Who”. In the 2018 video, Feffe Bussi dons himself in regal wear surrounded by even more displays of opulence. He wears a crown over his twisted locs and has his body adorned in extravagant jewelry including multiple chains and a nice watch. He wears a ski mask during one scene to match his forceful words. Feffe Bussi makes it a priority to showcase his identity by wearing a cultural top and mixing English with a local language. A standout lyric is when Feffe Bussi tells his competition to, “Reply at their own risk.”

The song was on the list of Tower Post Entertainment’s top 20 Uganda songs of 2018. Feffe Bussi made the brave choice to diss his competitors over Nas’ controversial Hate Me Now beat. “Who is Who” came with its own version of controversy because Feffe Bussi crowned himself the king of Lugaflow, a term used to describe rapping in one of Uganda’s major languages, Luganda or as it’s also known, Ganda. He also called out fellow artists such as Victor Kamenyo, Fik Fameica and Gravity Omutujju over their representation in hip-hop. Such a hard-hitting track became the catalyst for many Ugandan rappers to respond to in an eager manner. These artists included Gravity Omutujju, Da Agent and Jim Nola MC. Despite the overwhelming response, Feffe Bussi claims that he was simply trying to restore the passion back into his peers. The artist once said, “My humble intention was simply to bring back hip hop…in Uganda and spark the brains of these rappers”.

You can keep up with his work at Feffe Bussi Music on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Ruyoga Delves into Identity and Self Worth

By Max Bone

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Ruyoga during a 2015 performance. Picture from Bigeyes.ug.

In his 2014 single titled Muhuliire? (Y’heard?), Ugandan hip-hop artist Ruyoga goes into depth on issues of identity and self-worth. He does so while simultaneously addressing some of the pressing topics in Uganda when the song was written in 2014.

Ruyoga opens the song by singing the words “Ugandan Ambassador, The New, Spokesman for Africa Future, International Black Figure- Seran dipped in Oil couldn’t wrap slicker.” While this phrase could be interpreted to have multiple meanings, it is evident that he is referring to either himself, or a different individual as being seen as a representative for Uganda on the international stage.

Ruyoga then continues the song by taking a dramatic turn in the topics of the lyrics by stating “Yeah, I’m saved now, Christ is my ad libber. Yet I’m still harder to serve than a bad tipper.” Here, Ruyoga begins to speak about his transformation to a Christian hip-hop artist. Yet, even after mentioning being “saved” by Christ, Ruyoga goes on to mention that he is “still harder to serve than a bad tipper.” In doing mentions both his origins and his current imperfection, the former being a central aspect of hip-hop and the latter being a cornerstone of born-again Christianity.

After mentioning the importance of his Christian faith, Ruyoga seemingly transitions to speaking of challenges he faces as a hip-hop artist. He states “My Global accent, I’m still getting locomotion. While others are causing friction or corrosion. I guess I’m rubbing off on them quicker than Cocoa lotion.” In short, Ruyoga speaks of individuals attempting to derail his success, and other challenges that comes with gaining global fandom as this emcee has done.

After repeating the chorus, which is in a mixture of English and the local language Buganda, Ruyoga directly addresses both his past and his fandom. He states, “Live in The Flesh, The Legend lives The Main Event, you can clap for me, Cause Everyone -Seems to have their own version of my Back story -It’s like they’re trying to make me larger than life- But ain’t a background that can make me larger than Christ.” In short, he is saying that despite his background he is now a servant of his faith, Christianity and that he is not a larger than life figure.

In a drastic turn from talking about his own meaning in life, Ruyoga goes on to speak about the desires that others in Uganda have. For instance, he states “everyone’s waiting to cash in on that Oil Money”, in reference to the oil exploration taking place in 2014 that citizens hoped would spur microeconomic growth in the country. Further, this can be seen as a direct criticism of the false hope some Ugandans placed in extraction of natural gasses from the country which  has yet to have any economic impact on the country.  

Ruyoga then goes on to mention hardships that some Ugandans face, and methodologies used to temporarily ease the suffering such as the consumption of liquor.  I essence, he compares his journey to finding meaning in life through his religion to other methodologies that he believes are faulty. Uniquely, this is the last verse before the conclusion of the song.

In short, in this In his 2014 single titled Muhuliire? (Y’heard?), Ugandan hip-hop artist Ruyoga speaks about his personal identity as a Christian emcee. Additionally, he compares his method of finding meaning in life through music to other methods. In conclusion, Ruyoga eloquently speaks about his personal journey and how it is given him meaning in life in a means that is relevant to many.

Watch the music video for this song here

Read more about the discovery and extraction of oil in Uganda here  

Max Bone is a student of African Studies at the George Washington University

Numbers Don’t Lie – Navio

Daniel Lubwama Kigozi is best known under his stage name, Navio. He is the son of Renaissance woman Margaret Kigozi who is a well-respected doctor, sports champion, professor and much more. Navio had beginnings as a battle rapper and member of the KlearKut team with fellow artists Papito, Abba Lang, JB and The mith. They’re well known for promoting the term “Ugaflow” to describe Ugandan hip hop music. Navio’s star power continued to grow as he emerged as a solo act. He’s been nominated for multiple awards and has won the album of the year HiPipo Music Award for his 2017 project, “The Chosen”. He’s known for his hits such as Njogereze, Ngalo, Otyo, Mbamalawo, Bugumu, One & Only, On and On and others. One of his upcoming alleged collaborations is with American hip-hop act Jaden Smith. As the the CEO of NavCorp and Icon Studios, Navio also doubles as a devoted family man by being a father to three children with his wife, Mathilda.

One of his most recent releases includes “Numbers”. Numbers is a track that reflects current American hip-hop sounds with braggadocious lyrics and hype adlibs over a typical trap beat. Navio adds his personal flavor by alternating between rapping in English and harmonizing in another language. The song reflects your average artist’s goals of attaining numbers as it pertains to money, fame and the like. The simplistic video is shot in black and white with Navio donned in an all-black outfit accessorizing with black shades and a scarf to cover his hair. He dances in a car junkyard with Ugandan youth sprinkled throughout the background of the video. He emphasizes his self-proclaimed status as “The Most Renowned and Award Winning Hip Hop Artiste in Eastern Africa” by stating, “I do this for the numbers/I do this every summer/I can make hits in pajamas”. This is his last single before his album, “Strength in Numbers” hits the scene.

You can stay updated with his movements at: @naviomusic

Queer, Feminist, Survivor: How Ugandan Rapper Keko Brought New Perspectives to Ugandan Rap

Ugandan rapper Keko relaxing in a cafe in Kampala.

Uganda has seen a steady rise in its Hip Hop scene over the past two decades, but no Ugandan rapper has made as unique an impact on the scene as Keko, a 31 year old queer female rapper whose style of storytelling through rap stole the hearts of many Ugandans and Africans. She started out as a radio DJ on Uganda’s government owned station called X-fm, and then left her job to focus on recording music. Her climb to fame in East Africa came with her first single “How we do it.” She then released a single called “Alwoo (Cry for Help)” which caught the attention of Ugandans and many Africans, because it told stories of domestic abuse, career setbacks, grief and loss, personal struggle, and more. This message resonated with many Africans, and many Africans admired her lyrical creativity and consistent style.

A sample of her lyrics from “Alwoo” regarding the issue of domestic abuse faced by women is as follows:

“She said it felt like waking up to darkness in daylight,

Every day’s a war, no date night,

And she can’t go home, her mom will send her back,

Telling her it’s okay to not fight back,

‘A man is a man, let him have his way,

And in time you can see it will be okay.’”

Keko talks about the loneliness and anguish faced by many African women who grow up in a patriarchal culture that disempowers women to fight against abuse inflicted upon them by their male partners. By telling the woman’s story, Keko wanted to shed light upon the experiences of women facing abuse from their viewpoints and hoped that people would have more sympathy for women being treated this way. In this way, Keko gives a voice to the most vulnerable individuals in Ugandan society through the stories her music tells.

Keko has gone on to perform at some of Africa’s biggest music festivals, collaborate with other famous African musicians, receive endorsement deals from Pepsi and Mountain Dew, and be featured on CNN’s “African Voices.” However, the loss of her mother as well as living a closeted life as a lesbian in a very conservative, anti-LGBT Uganda led her to drug addiction, which she fought to overcome. Keko ended up moving to Canada and taking Canadian citizenship, after which she same out as lesbian on her Twitter, happily proclaiming “My gay ass is free yes free and there will be a wedding you best believe” and “Thank you Canada for giving me a new home… I feel free like a new person. It was a burden to live in a box and walk on eggshells.” Keko remains a household name in East Africa, but also saw a small rise to fame in the US and Canada because of her coming-out after moving to the West.

For now, Keko has chosen to live a private life, but many fans hope that she will come back with her same style of story-telling rap to provide narratives of queer-identifying Africans and their struggles.

Song: Alwoo (Cry for Help) – Keko (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SgyYSB-fgwo&list=RDEMiw3EScs0bxL8CjnclnEHGA&index=2)

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kekotown

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KekomusicOfficial/

HHAP Episode 23: Uganda’s Ruyonga on African/African American Relations, Black Panther, Politics, and Christianity

This interview with Ugandan artist Ruyonga, formerly known as Krukid, is an in-depth discussion on the artist’s perspective on the Black experience, relations between African Americans and Africans in America, his issues with the Black Panther film, being a Christian MC, and his perspective on laws and politics in Uganda.

Ruyonga studied in the U.S. in the early 2000s. He began rapping in Uganda before coming to the States, and he established an underground career in the U.S. and became known for his distinct sound and strong lyrical ability. After almost a decade in the US, Ruyonga returned to Uganda. He changed his name to Ruyonga and built his career as a Christian rapper.

After a long stay Ruyonga has an interesting perspective on being an African immigrant in America, and the tensions between African and African American communities. He talks about those tensions from an African immigrant perspective, and comments on the diverse racial and ethnic dynamics he saw in different parts of the United States. The conversation turns towards pop culture and race and Ruyonga has strong feelings about the Black Panther and the representations of Africans in the film, and Hollywood’s presentation of the Black experience.

Ruyonga also opens up about his views on race, Black pride, and feminism, as well as his views on the ways different groups of people have been pitted against each other. Part of the conversation includes the artist’s views on some of Uganda’s more controversial laws regarding women and sexuality, especially the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Still a strong lyricist, Ruyonga now uses Christianity as the vehicle with which to express his lyricism. His latest release is Voice Of My Father, and follows an impressive body of work that spans over 10 years. Ruyonga is on

BandCamp at https://ruyonga.bandcamp.com

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/ruyonga/482094271

Twitter: @ruyongamusic

Episode Breakdown
7:30 “African American, American African”
9:30 “Pearl City Anthem”
11:45 “Hand of God”
12:40 Background and move to the US
14:00 The Black Experience
15:15 African & African American relations
23:42 The Black Panther movie & Hollywood
29:33 Black pride, feminism
32:00 The return to Uganda
35:45 Language
37:18 Christianity & politics

Continue reading “HHAP Episode 23: Uganda’s Ruyonga on African/African American Relations, Black Panther, Politics, and Christianity”

Episode 23 Promo

“Luga-flow”

Babaluku is certainly one of Uganda’s legendary Emcees. The ability to rap in an African indigenous  language is a challenge that most artists avoid, however, Babaluku appears to one of the few artists that rap fluently in his native Lugandan tongue. In fact, he is the originator of the “Luga-flow” which is rap in the Ugandan native tongue. I have noticed that other artists tend to draw upon aspects of colonial English to their music but Babluku celebrates his native tongue and rolls out his words with ease and enjoyment. Continue reading ““Luga-flow””

Ugandan Kween

Who is Kween G? In her new song “Who am I” posted on her Soundcloud in September 2017, the female artist gives an interesting mixing to her followers. She refers to two essential components of her life: her African origins and her desire to assert herself in a life that has not always been easy.

According to her interview with Miss Hennessey speaks blog, Kween G Kibone’s name is composed of the letter G from Goddess and of the word Kween for Kibone, named after her grandmother. The hip-hop female artist was born in the Bugisu tribe in Uganda and raised in Australia since the early 1990s. Since the early 2000s Kween G occupies the Australian hip-hop scene with powerful and engaged songs. In 2010 she was honored Young Citizen of the Year by Marrickville Council (Sydney). She is currently maintaining a high level of community work especially with young girls and indigenous people in Australia. Continue reading “Ugandan Kween”

Diaspora Rappers

Diaspora based artists like K’Naan, Blitz the Ambassador, M3nsa, Wale, and French Montana, and Tabi Bonney have been covered heavily in this blog. There are several other first and second generation African MCs around the world who have not been covered as much in this blog. As students in the Hip Hop and Social Change in Africa course this semester are discussing Diaspora based artists, here are some of the artists those students are looking at. In the coming week students will be putting up posts on these and other African MCs that are based outside of the continent. Continue reading “Diaspora Rappers”

Keko in “I am Ugandan,” sheds a light on her intersectional identities

Keko is an artist that is that is not afraid to get real with her sexuality and nationality. She is known in Uganda for going against the hyper sexualized image cultivated by many American female rappers like Nicki Minaj etc. In this music video, she is not wearing tight clothing, but rather sneakers and jeans. Her “tomboy” dressing raises the assumption that she identifies as queer. Keko lives in a country where homosexuality is outlawed, but she does not seem afraid to stand up for herself. By her dress and expression, she sends the message that being gay is not just a “Western” thing. She is one of the few artists that embraces her intersectional identities. She sheds a spotlight on being queer and Ugandan in this music video. Continue reading “Keko in “I am Ugandan,” sheds a light on her intersectional identities”