Bayimba International Festival of the Arts took place over the weekend. This was the second edition since the festival left the National Theatre for the island, Lunkulu on Lake Victoria though close to Mukono.
Those days at the National Theatre, the Bayimba Festival line up could start a storm on social media in regards to who should and shouldn’t be on the main stage; then artistes like Sheebah Karungi and Henry Tigan got the better of the audience when programmed.
Whether social media got to them or not, all these people worked their pants off, yet for some reason, they both fell short; Sheebah signaled the drummer and called him the DJ to low the track, then Tigan’s backup singers looked like they were forced to look at the mic.
Every time they looked at it, you could imagine they wondered; “how did we get here and whose mic is this?”
Well, it could have been the reason people started staying clear of such artistes and festivals; it was the same reason a section of people were not thrilled when Gravity Omutujju was announced as a performer at this year’s Bayimba. Not only that they thought he wasn’t worthy, but because Bayimba also runs a Hip Hop camp every year, many of the products of these camps facilitated by people like Sylvester Kabombo of the famous duo Sylvester and Abramz are usually purists.
The ones that could not give an artiste like Gravity Omutujju even a chance to open his mouth, yet, when he opened his mouth with his band on the main stage of Bayimba last weekend, it was proof he has something to say. He wordplay, stage charisma and attitude all suggest that he is indeed hip hop, yet purists insist he is not – after getting an audience on its feet for close to an hour and a half, one thing was settled; he performed Rated 18 lyrics but is indeed a festival material.
But with a hip hop line up setting in at the same stage on Saturday, the question on whether Gravity is hip hop or not was back in our faces. Felix Byaruhanga, one of the organisers of the Uganda Hip Hip Awards sat down with this writer to record a podcast and when the question came up, he started by noticing that Gravity had surpassed the expectations with his performance at the festival.
“There is more to hip hop than just the beat, Gravity noticed that Ugandans love to dance and he gives them something they can dance to,” he said. He believes that the hip hop fraternity needs rappers like Gravity and Fefe Busi since they come with an audience the industry yearns to tap into.