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.
Out of the rapidly expanding hip hop scene in Tanzania is the group X-Plastaz. The group is made up of several rappers and singers of different age groups and genders, as they also employ female emcees like in the powerful anthem “Furaha” as well as others. It is a goal of the group to keep in mind the purpose of hip hop and to truely create a unique and useful artform out of African culture with world wide influence. They refer to their music as Maasai hip hop which utilizes traditional Maasai musical elements as well as hip hop styled beats. They speak to the youth concerning subjects of everyday life in Tanzania like prison, AIDS, economics of working like job issues and unemployment. One of the most outspoken in category of rapping with a mind for the oppressed was founder Faza Nelly. He was stabbed and died in 2006 but not before recording an X-Plastaz classic “Nini dhambi kwa mwenye dhiki” Their music does a great job of blending cultures, showing the importance of tribal values and traditions as well as appealing to a globalized youth. They are one of the biggest groups in the Tanzanian hip hop world and have achieved international recognition as can be seen with X-Plastaz Gsan on the BET Cypher with KRS-One.
“Nini dhambi kwa mwenye dhiki” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFb0hmD9ys8&playnext=1&list=PLB9DB3C351F12A579
“Furaha” Ft FidQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ql4ugeP7e7Y
The article Keeping it Real: Reality and Representation in Maasai Hip-Hop by Katrina Daly Thompson published in the Journal of African Cultural Studies analyzes the style, message and success of a Maasai-themed Tanzanian hip-hop group X Plastaz. The Maasai are a tribe of semi-nomadic people who live in Kenya and Northern Tanzania. They are known around the world for their distinct culture and residence in and around national parks in Kenya and Tanzania. With a member of the Maasai tribe as part of the singing group and the use of Maasai language, costumes and chanting in their performances, the group X Plastaz can be viewed as an example of how hip-hop which has origins in the West has been localized and is an integral part of Tanzanian culture. The writer tells how the group was very popular in Tanzania when they used Swahili in their raps and sounded “…like the Tanzanian version of the Brooklyn rap crews they had been listening to.” When they changed their style, the group became very popular internationally while their success locally declined. Their decline in popularity at home, according to the writer, is attributed to the group’s refusal to pay bribe to get their songs on the air and Tanzanians’ attitude towards the Maasai. Their international success can be attributed to “…their use of traditionalism to appeal to the touristic desire of Western audiences.” The author also writes how by their unique style and message the group X Plastaz claims it is “keeping it real”. CSULA students can access the article by clicking the link below and signing in with their NIS account.