Tanzania’s hip hop ever defies the odds
from ALLOYCE KIMBUNGA in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
DAR-ES-SALAAM, (CAJ News) – BONGO Flava, as Tanzanian hip hop music is otherwise known, has over the last two decades evolved from being a genre of outlaws to the most loved source of entertainment across all age groups.
It has won over a skeptical older generation who viewed it as an art of outlaws.
Today, Bongo Flava is the most popular musical style amongst locals, something that is also reflected in the vast number of television and radio programmes dedicated to this genre as well as the sales figures of Bongo Flava albums.
The names A.Y, Christina Bella, David Genz, Diamond Platnumz, Dully Sykes, Mr. II, said to be the pioneer of the genre, and Vanessa Mdee are some of the most prominent names.
Outside its historical home of Tanzania, Bongo Flava has become a resoundingly popular sound in neighbouring, culturally related countries such as Kenya and Uganda.
The music genre has even found a home outside of the African continent with the most popular artists in the genre have recently begun to address Western markets while the self-proclaimed “best internet station for Bongo Flava,” Bongo Radio, is based out of Chicago, Illinois in the United States.
In fact, the popular music industry has grown in leaps and bounds and has become a big employer to most of the talented young Tanzanians who would otherwise have stayed jobless in a country where unemployment is the one of the greatest problems among the youth.
Despite the popularity of Bongo Flava and the large number of well-known artistes throughout Tanzania, challenges persist.
Artists have cited such challenges as limited breakthrough and exposure to international market and piracy among others.
Copying of music is widespread and most artistes are unable to make a living selling their music.
They must alternatively rely on income from live performances to support themselves.
However, some companies and individuals have recognised the plight of these budding artistes and have come up with ways of supporting them in order to help them to achieve their dreams.
Among the companies is Tigo Tanzania, a local entity of Luxembourg-headquartered Millicon.
The mobile network operator has initiated Tigo Music Platform that seeks, among others, to market local artistes’ work locally and abroad.
Tigo has so far supported over 20 Tanzanian artistes through Tigo Music.
Tigo Tanzania partnered with a French based international music streamer, Deezer, the service that provides Tanzanians with unlimited music experience that offers access to about 36 million music tracks worldwide.
“Through exposure to international audience, I now able to promote my music and earn extra money from my songs”, said Bella, the Dar-based Congolese Bongo Flava music star.
Speaking in Dar-Es-Salaam, David Genz also known as Yangdee, who is one of the beneficiaries of the support from the platform, said his music had made him known at local and international level.
“The platform is redemption to young musicians in the country as it has bought us from underground to international level,” Yangdee said.
Tigo said music streaming was growing rapidly globally and among the most popular mobile phone feature in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Tigo is committed in supporting the local music talent,” the company stated.
Currently local artists have freedom to sign directly with Tigo or via its registered third party partners.
Apart from Tigo Music, the company makes payments to artistes for their music sales, sponsorship to their various music releases and participation in Tigo-related activities.
“Tigo will continue to invest in supporting the local music industry by ensuring local artists are exposed to the international markets through its available digital platforms, collaborate with artists to participate in various Tigo launches, support artists on their music releases and hence increase their music sales and brand image,” the company stated.
– CAJ News
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