When Dennis Kalimu passed on in November 2018, very little had been known about the cause of his death.
However, as tributes continued trickling in, it was confirmed that the rapper, whose stage name was Nampeera Mulekwa, had been battling throat cancer.
Since rap music is still on the footnotes of the local music chain, many people had no idea who Mulekwa was, yet, among people that appreciate Ugandan hip hop, he is easily one of the memorable wordsmiths.
He got some mainstream attention at the beginning of 2018 though, then he jumped onto the viral “Who is Who” challenge and released two serialised songs both titled “Abaana Bano”.
But by the year’s end, Mulekwa was gone. Cancer had claimed another one.
Last weekend, an album, “A Few Good Friends” by a collective of rappers; Nelly-Sade Nsubuga, Lyrical G, Spyda MC, XLZ, Ruyonga, Moth, Mun*G, Bana Mutibwa, Benezeri, Big Sam and the final works by Mulekwa among others, was released.
Of course the album also features interesting vocalists such as Akongo, Bruno K, Afrie and Sandra Nankoma among others.
Generally, the album, which has been in the making for five years, unites more than 50 Ugandan artistes from all regions of the country and others in the Diaspora and talks about different social issues though putting a lot of focus on cancer.
The rappers use their lyricism on each of the songs to do as much as they can. In 22 songs, they attack the disease, create awareness and in many of the songs, talk about different ways the disease has affected them.
For Mulekwa, who, during the process of recording the album most of the rappers had no idea he was battling cancer, the album feels like a befitting tribute.
But to walk the talk, the rappers have been teaming up with a few of their famous friends to create awareness such as highlighting where people can go for breast cancer screenings.
On one of the days, they even held a free breast cancer screening at Elizabeth Medical Centre in Kamuli.
According to Pamela Keryeko, the publicist of the project, their aim is to make screening for breast cancer a cool thing that people will not be ashamed to go for.
Besides cancer though, the album highlights other issues about relations on songs such as “Brother’s Keeper.” The song that features Lyrical G, Kracbone, Mal-X and Akongo, talks about people that tend to forget checking on them. Most of the times, by the time they remember looking out for them, they have already fallen off the rails.
Others such as “Who Killed Hip Hop”, address the state of rap music in the country, while the lockdown project “Twebaza” uses a single beat that different rappers on the album use to appreciate the people that have impacted them in one way or another.
Generally, “A Few Good Friends” is an amazing project that celebrates life and creates awareness in equal measures.
With a documentary about their works in the making, only time can tell what this project may become.