It is not rare for more than two rappers to work on one project, but it is different when you have 47 from across Africa blending their different sounds on one album.
On August 8, 2020, a very unique hip hop album, “EGO”, was released on the market. Unique, because it is a collaboration of 47 different artistes and producers from four different countries. As such, the music is a colourful buffet of melodies, instrumentations and languages from across the Great Lakes region.
Kracbone, the brain behind the project, believes such collaborations hold the key to marketing and distributing hip hop better. The rapper’s name may not be familiar to many but he has been around since the mid 2000s and in 2008 his song “So Serious” was nominated for the Pam Awards while in 2012, his song “Balance of Power (B.O.P)” was nominated in three different categories.
“Hip hop is at the bottom of the food chain, unfortunately. Our market is so bad we barely have shows to perform at. With this album, I wanted to build unity in the hip hop fraternity in the region and start competing with other genres,” the rapper says.
One of the changes Kracbone implemented in the album was getting hardcore hip hop rappers to discard their usual beats and embrace Afro-Fusion beats. The other was to foster a bond between the players. There is power in unity after all.
“Most emcees don’t want to work together because of ‘I am better than you’ attitude, so I knew I had to be the guy who gets them in the same place and asks them to team up. I have mad respect for all Ugandan emcees but ego is our greatest enemy. A fist is stronger than a finger and I think working together can help our genre grow more,” Kracbone says.
Playing the part of big brother was something Kracbone has been doing from his school days. He has been captain of his rugby team both in O and A levels so leadership is what he has been practicing for a very long time.
The album has its beginnings in pain and frustration. Before he ever thought of the project, the rapper had been through different music camps where he witnessed huge demand from the fans and learnt a lot of marketing strategies.
So in 2017, the rapper decided to create Ace Plug Entrainment (APE), a platform to market and distribute hip hop music in East Africa and Africa. This album is one of the projects in that direction.
“The project took me a full year to create. It started in August 2019. Getting MCs was the hardest part. So many artistes turned me down and I respect their decision because of label contracts and production restrictions and so forth. But I knew if we are to change the status quo, it has to be a movement,” he says.
The non-Ugandan rappers on the project include, Da Twins Runiga (Congo), who bring a Lingala flavour, Star King from Central African Republic, and Jyro (Kenya).
Some the big names from Uganda are Santana, Rugged Made, Ruyonga and of course Kracbone himself.
With a blend of Rumba from Congo, Zuku from Kenya, House from South Africa, Kidandali from Uganda, and some Reggae and Tarabu. This could finally bring a new era in rap fan-dom.
“The fans are there. We just have to engage them more. Everything looks good from my point of view and hip hop is growing every day in Uganda. Hopefully the industry will accept us too.”