Still on the topic of the legendary Tanzanian hip-hop artists that have ensured that the religion of hip-hop did not get mixed up with the diverse content that bongo flava serves. This post will be focusing on Joseph Mbilinyi, popularly known as Mr. II (aka Sugu, 2-proud). He is recognized as one of the founders of the hip-hop music scene in Tanzania. He continues to be relevant in the hip-hop community and although he has collaborations with a lot of bongo flava artists, he still sticks to the caricature style of hip-hop that he has been consistent with all through his career.
Hailing from Songea in Southern Tanzania, Mr. II started rapping in 1990 as a youth still in school. He notes his inspirations were Ice cube and Tupac (some attribute his name 2-proud as a homage to the American hip-hop legend). Just like his alias “Sugu”, Mr. II is known to be stubborn and stern in his lyrical renditions. He is popular for being in the rap game for so long and staying relevant and consistent in addressing several social and political issues that the Tanzanian populace go through. He is never afraid to speak up on police brutality or corruption in his songs and he has applauded for having a total effect on the communities due to the widespread infiltration of his rap songs into the young and old souls in the communities. Some people even branded him as the voice for the voiceless and his rap songs, usually in Swahili, show that he is genuinely concerned about the people. A lot of his songs depict these and examples are Hali Halisi, Haki, and Freedom.
This song talks about Mr. II‘s personal outcry for freedom for people in Tanzania to practice whatever lifestyle they choose whether they have diaspora influence or not. In his first verse, he talks about leaving Tanzania for the United States because things were not working out. On returning home, he got branded for being a “know-it-all” because of the status of having exposure to a better life. He stresses the importance of just praying to God that all his good deeds that translate to giving back will be appreciated and he will be able to have freedom in living the lifestyle he wants in his home- Tanzania. I really like this song because I can relate to what he is talking about. When you leave Africa and return, you get treated in a certain way that I believe is unfair. The knowledge I have from the diaspora is supposed to be beneficial to my countrymen but the apprehensive nature they have constantly stalled the progress of the people in general. I respect Mr. II for echoing this in his song. In order for us to prosper as a people, inachukua wawili (this translates to “it takes two”). The African people and her diaspora need to join hands together to uplift our culture and our heritage. He also mentioned the importance of having economic freedom and living the lifestyle you want for yourself even after being relevant in the rap scene (newspapers and news) for twenty-two years.
Mr. II successfully won the seat of the Mbeya Urban constituency parliamentary seat in the 2010 Tanzanian general elections. He is also the Founder and Director of Deiwaka Entertainment- a company that focuses on promoting and developing Tanzanian hip-hop as part of helping in the fight against poverty and unemployment problems among youths in Tanzania. Like Sugu, I want other artists to have the freedom to do all these things that will show that they can transform from an old musician into an old politician.