Hip Hop vs. Bongo Fleva

Hip hop in Tanzania was always in Swahili, and the beats were usually original and pure. The artists rap about their lifestyle, which was more political or how they were living. Maria Suriano, who wrote “Mimi ni msanii, kioo cha jamii’ urban youth culture in Tanzania as see through Bongo Fleva and hip hop” reported, “in the early 1990s ‘Hip-Hop in Tanzania, was seen as ‘uhuni’, associated with crime and drugs’.” However, when time started to change then the Tanzania hip hop was famous for its referred that was considered tpo be a unique style of expression, which combined an artistic component such as music, dance, poetry, art (graffiti), performance, fashion, attitude, and social discourse ship. A Tanzania hip hop artist that seem to have kept the tradition going Nikki Mbishi, One The Incredible, and Songa, and P The MC. Nikki Mbishi’s music seem have a style that caused his audience to have a political awaken. Also, One the Incredible’s music seem to be a prime example of traditional Tanzania hip hop. Songa’s musical style was more a traditional old school hip hop in America. P the MC’s music influenced similar style to Songa old MC raps that American Hip Hop was found on in the early 1990s. Hip Hop’s music was defined as being a way to express everyday struggles and to allow people to create a culture that defined their history.

Songa and P The MC https://youtu.be/9U0qLv2T-qI

Songa https://youtu.be/7cAGYBOaHJc

P the MC https://youtu.be/dO5iUkOmD3Q

Nikki Mbishihttps://youtu.be/4SkcYnLPMNE

One The Incredible https://youtu.be/JtwwMH5Pd7k

Besides, Bongo Fleva in Tanzania was mainly from Dar es Salaam because Bongo was the nickname of the city. This music was created with a mixture of different musical styles such as hip hop, Zoku, reggae, and more. Artists usually rap about material and love, which were more of what they wanted. Suriano claimed, the “young artists…spread [of] new slang terms, and ‘Swanglish’ words (a mix of Swahili and English), while they adopt street language in their hits (especially the variety of Dar es Salaam), and in this way contribute to its ‘institutionalisation’…” Famous Bongo artist in today’s society would be Daimond Platnumz, Fid Q, and Maasai X Plastaz. Diamond Platnumz’s music seem to be more influenced by the American pop culture aspect because he sings about love. His music always has Bongo Fleva beats which some believed that his music is hip hop. Fid Q’s music seem to have a mix of hip hop and Bongo. Nevertheless, Maasai X Plastaz’s music related to his self-identity as a Maasai, which always influence alone for the younger generation to related to his music. But, his he related himself more like a hip-hop flavor than Bongo Fleva. Bongo Fleva’s music had changed from it original definition, which created a difficult time for determining what artists are or were Bongo Fleva.

Fid Q https://youtu.be/Fd9XadTDJn8

Diamond Platnumz https://youtu.be/XcnYJom4DBc

Maasai X Plastaz https://youtu.be/2H4qEw2inZY

Even though, the Bongo Fleva and Hip Hop was “reflect Tanzanian urban youth culture, with its changing identities, life-styles, aspirations, constraints, and language,” according to Maria Suriano.  Also, the two was so similar in the past that people used to confuse the two because “ the word Bongo Fleva was utilised as ‘Tanzanian Hip-Hop’…” according to Suriano. The problem why Bongo Fleva lost it, the similarity was because the youth changed it to fit into their culture.  However, the real question needed to be determined was what type of music work best for old school hip hop and new school music lover. The two genres catered to two totally different audiences. Suriano explained, “Hip-Hop (as well as Reggae)should be deemed a separate genre because it is based on long traditions, while Bongo Fleva is in fact a ‘new’ genre, and a new music culture (‘music of a new generation’).”  Tanzanian hip hop’s audience loved to be conscious at the time as well as being able to relate to the class struggle in their country, actually listen to music. On the other hand, Bongo Fleva’s audiences loved to have the lateness fashion and emphasise about what they have or what they want to have, more so for dancing. Knowing the difference about Tanzania hip hop and Bongo Fleva presented here, which one would you mostly like listen too?


Suriano, M. (2007). ‘Mimi ni msanii, kioo cha jamii’ urban youth culture in Tanzania as seen through Bongo Fleva and hip hop. Swahili Forum , 14, 207-223.

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