Rap is Zambia had be used sporadically over time because of its roots in African society. It wasn’t until hip hop began in the late 1970s Bronx, New York, that it became the large genre in Zambia that it is today. Hip hop’s influence began to make world-wide strides, and the leading genre, Zam-Rock started to rapidly decline.
While going through its downfall, many rock musicians changed their style to the youthful, hip hop sound that was popular in the early 1980s. The pioneering rap album, “Your Love” was released in 1993 by Omart, or Robert Mapara on his Rota Music label.
After apartheid ending in South Africa the doors into the rap game flew open with opportunities for Zambian musicians. These musicians were inspired by rappers from all over the world like Tupac Shakur from America, Buju Banton from Jamaica, and TKZee from South Africa. Each of the regions had their own sounds of hip hop that crossed over into other regions as they were continually influenced. Most of hip hop in Zambia’s success comes from late 1990s/early 2000s albums such as “Wisakamana” and “Kokoliko by Black Muntu, “Chibaba” by Daddy Zemus, and “JK” by JK. These albums really put Zambia in the global game as they became more popular.
Since these successes, Zambian hip hop music has only grown through larger labels, popularity, and using different hip hop styles. These styles vary from western, to traditional chikunda/nsenga, to regional styles. Many Zambian hip hop artists have received global BEFFTA (Black Entertainment, Film, Fashion, Television, and Arts) awards which allows them to make connections to western arts and gain more popularity. While Zambian hip hop music and labels still haven’t reached mainstream status, the genre has seen steady growth in their artists international exposure and recognition.