The heroes of Bongo Flava, vol I

Fid Q

“Bongo Flava” is the phrase used to refer to hip-hop in Tanzania and in East Africa in general. It was derived from the Swahili word for brains “ubongo”. Bongo also refers to the city Dar es Salaam- the birthplace of hip-hop in Tanzania in the eighties. Over the years, this genre of music from East Africa has gained global recognition due to the efforts of Swahili rappers who evolved from just rapping over American beats, to infusing local synthesized beats, sounds, and rhythms into the Swahili lyrics while addressing Tanzanian issues. This would not have been possible without the efforts of brave pioneers of hip-hop in Tanzania. I refer to them as the heroes of bongo flava who still continue to promote the East African culture through their lyrics and ultimately their art. Some of these artists are X Plastaz, Juma Nature, Fid Q, Gangwe Mobb, AY, Professor J, etc.

Today I will be focusing on the career of Fid Q, born Farid Kubanda on August 13, 1982, in Tanzania. He kicked off his bongo flava career in 2000 where he released his first song “Huyu na Yule” (which means this person and that person) which was received well by the public giving his artistry recognition and respect. Fid Q is known for his sharp style lyrically and also for addressing social and political issues in the streets of Tanzania. My favorite song by Fid Q is lelewe Mitaa which translates to “raised in the streets”. In this song, he highlights the struggles he went through as a young boy surviving the streets of Tanzania. Many hip-hop fans often refer to him as a “lyrical god”. Fid Q is a prominent voice in bongo flava as he continues to release songs that celebrate Tanzanian hip-hop. One of his notable acts was in 2004 where his “” record was released. This record was widely acclaimed to be responsible for restoring Tanzanian hip-hop as it came at a time where hip-hop was deemed unacceptable and unpleasant to the Tanzanian community. In 2008, his song “Ni Hayo Tu” won the Kili award for best hip-hop record for 2007-2008. In 2015, Fid Q was recognized by the European Union as a champion of 2015 European Year for Development in Tanzania. This stemmed from all his efforts in the community through his music.

Fid Q has worked with a lot of prominent acts in the bongo flava scene- Diamond Platnumz, Juma Nature, Professor Jay, and Sauti Sol to mention a few. His second album, PROPAGANDA, is labeled as his best project career-wise and was well received in the Tanzanian hip-hop community as well as surrounding East African neighborhoods. Fid Q once noted in an interview with BUZZ, “Kiswahili language has been a strength of the industry because it delivers the message and it’s our identity. Our weakness is lack of ability to create that African brand that will make us different in the world of music”. I share this belief too that the use of indigenous African languages in hip-hop will help improve the brand of our music on a global scale and this is why Fid Q is one of our heroes. Heroes who will continuously put Africa on the global map with culture-rich art. Some of his other songs are Fresh, Sumu, and Bongo hip hop.

lelewe Mitaa by Fid Q

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.

Continue reading “Hip Hop vs. Bongo Fleva”

30 days of Tanzanian hip hop: Day 16 Fid Q

30 days of Tanzanian hip hop: Day 16 – Fid Q in 2010. Fareed Kubanda. One of the most well known hip hop artists in Tanzania. I did a survey of over 500 students at the Univ of Dar es Salaam and Fid Q was mentioned more than any other artist, even Diamond, as an artists they followed online. With that kind of following Fid’s music and projects have had a huge impact. From Fid Style Fridays, the Hip Hop Darasa, and Poetry Addiction, he’s doing a lot. But Fid Q is also one of the most controversial artists in TZ. Everyone has a strong opinion about him, but whether you’re a fan or not, whether you like him or not, he’s currently the most well known emcee in Tanzania.


*30 days of TZ hip hop is to show some of what I experienced the past year in Tanzania.