The Sounds of Tanzania

-A brief article about the many sounds that are produced in Hip Hop.

Hip Hop isn’t just a genre of music, it’s a genre that has its own style, culture, code, and language that sets it apart from all other genres. Through the use of Swahili slang & AAVE, drumming, storytelling, and rhyming, along with breakdancing, and graffiti, to name a few; Hip Hop has been used as a means to tell stories, create art, cultivate conversation, and insight change in the community. No matter where Hip Hop is coming from, the message is clear that it’s for the people. In my research of Hip Hop, more specifically Hip Hop in Africa, Tanzania spoke out to me due to its unique and interesting take on Hip Hop there. Hip Hop in Tanzania is often split into two categories, that of being New School and Old School. Old school Hip Hop consists of more traditional sounds of Hip Hop while New School- also known as Bongo Flava, incorporates sounds from R&B, House, Reggae, and other music genres along with elements from Hip Hop. I’m well aware of the discourse on whether or not Bongo Flava counts as Hip Hop and I am by no means educated on the discourse surrounding this topic. In the songs that I picked I tried to incorporate some old school sounds along with new school sounds to show the difference and similarities in the two styles of music; I also picked artists who use different styles in their music as a way to showcase the creativity in Hip Hop. Though I’m only highlighting a few artists, I implore everyone to check out the music scene in Tanzania, it’s a unique approach to the Hip Hop genre is one that can’t be beaten.

AY Masta- “Masta”

The first song on this mix is Masta performed by AY Masta featuring Juma Nature. AY Masta is among a few Hip Hop artists to commercialize Hip Hop in Tanzania. In this song specifically, Ay Masta uses an old-school deliverance and within his beat, you can hear the scratching of a turntable to add a unique style to the song. AY Masta also reaps his hometown in his music as a way to pay homage to where he comes from. The use of these styles contributes to the very unique Hip Hop scene in Tanzania.

Young Lunya- “Announcement Freestyle”

The next song on this mix is Freestyle Session 4 by Young Lunya. This song amongst the many other freestyles he has produced pays homage to the old school rappers while adding in the flare that is new school music. Young Lunya is very creative in his deliverance and lyricism and uses Braggadocio to establish his place in the Hip Hop scene. The vibe of the song is somewhat similar to that of Kendrick Lamar, in the sense that both artists uses their creativity in deliverance, music video, and style to write and perform their music. Though Young Lunya mainly raps in Swahili, it truly doesn’t matter, energy and badass lyricism are universal making him a true trendsetter amongst other artists.  

Rosa Ree- “It’s Your Birthday”

It wouldn’t be right for me to make a mixtape of the finest rappers in Tanzania and leave out the ladies who add creativity, and style to the scene. The next song on this mix is It’s Your Birthday by Rosa Ree. Rosa Ree takes a much more different approach than the rappers on this list. Her music tends to be much livelier in regard to the beat used and the lyrics presented in her songs. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t venture out, in fact, Rosa Ree writes a lot of songs in relation to many issues such as women’s issues, social issues, etc. Her pen is versatile, and it’s shown through her creative flow and her ability to rap in Swahili and English.

Chemical Flo & Fid Q– “Kesho”

The next song on this mix is Kesho by Chemical featuring, Fid Q. Chemical is a unique artist by her style alone. She doesn’t dress how a “typical” female rapper may dress, and in my opinion, this unique style only amplifies her music. She approaches her music very differently from the other artist in this mix, she tells a story with every song that she produces. In this song specifically, Chemical uses an old school beat along with an old school rap battle style video to deliver her lines. This different approach to her music sets her apart from the other women in the Hip Hop game.

Professor Jay- “Hands Up”

Last but certainly not least, the last song on this mix is Hands Up by Professor Jay. Professor Jay is a very popular Tanzanian rapper known for his participation in not just rap but also in the political scene as well. Though Professor Jay’s style of rap may be considered “old school” his deliverance and music video style are fairly “new school”. Professor Jay raps primarily in Swahili, but nevertheless, just like the many other artists in this mix, language doesn’t take away from the very obvious style and cadence prevalent within his music. Professor Jay also uses clothing, fancy brands, and cars as a way to “decorate’ his music and add his own style to Hip Hop.  

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