Living for reggae: Good Ambrose UG is a songwriter and artiste and in 2018, he was awarded Best Reggae Artiste for his song “Awot Ityena” in the Lango Entertainment Awards. Isaac Otwii caught up with him on his music career.
Who is Good Ambrose UG?
My real name is Ambrose Obongo and I was born on May 12, 1991 in Amindit Village, Alebtong District. Both my parents were primary school teachers in Oyam District. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Community Development from Kyambogo University, which I attained in 2014.
What is the story behind your stage name?
The name Good Ambrose UG was given to me by my neighbours in the ghetto, where I grew up. I used to jam to lots of catchy reggae vibes and I used to mime them, which impressed my neighbours. After school, I became the unemployed Bachelor’s degree holder in the slums, so the love for reggae music became my business. I remember one morning in March 2016, I woke up to the realisation that I had a hidden talent; I could write and sing to my own songs so the neighbours got shocked and baptised me ‘Good Ambrose UG’ since I was good with reggae.
What does reggae music mean to you?
Reggae music is the most reasonable music genre ever created. It is that genre loved by both young and old people, it preaches love, peace, and unity. I must say it is for the intellectuals.
What would you say is your favourite style of reggae?
I am a very versatile artiste and I do nearly all types of reggae, ranging from roots, Reggae trap, lovers rock, and more and I do them all perfectly.
Many people nowadays believe the integrity of reggae music is dead. What do you say of this, and how do you plan to prove them wrong?
I do not think reggae music has lost integrity in any way. The only issue we have had recently in the reggae industry is the surfacing of immature artistes who do not understand the culture and norms of the genre. They bring out immature lyrics, copycats, beef, and so on. But I must say the original reggae music still exists and it is everywhere. I plan to prove those who think reggae has lost its way wrong through lyrical maturity, originality, working with great producers, and employing strong marketing strategies.
Who are your influences?
My influence and taste of reggae started back in the days with Lucky Dube’s “Pass the Dutch” album that my elder cousin used to play in the late 1990s. Contemporarily, Romain Virgo, Busy Signal, Christopher Martins, Lutan Fyah and Shaggy inspired me to be where I am today.
Who are some of your favourite artistes right now?
Still the above mentioned and others such as Gyptian, Tarrus Riley, Jah Cure, Queen Ifrica and other old school reggae singers such as Burning Spear, Gregory Isaacs Culture, Sanchez, remain my best.
What do you think about the politics of the music industry?
Honestly, the tide is high. The game is getting harder and harder by the day. And in this era, you need the brain and lyrics with purpose.
Do you play any instruments?
Yes, I play mostly the guitar and the piano.
Do you write your own lyrics?
Yes, I am a lyricist and I compose most of my songs, especially every day after work.
How have you responded to your rising popularity over the years?
I must confess, every new year is always bigger and better than the previous one, with a high rise in the number of followers. And trust my fans did not find hardships in supporting my reggae career because quality and maturity was my mission and that is how I came to top Northern Uganda’s reggae charts in the last few years since December 2016, and I feel good about it.
Do you have a favourite song or one that moves you more than others?
Yes, I must say all my reggae pieces are good but there is this specific song off the “Alito” album, titled “Awot Ityena” . I composed it in 2016 to praise the glory of Lango as a tribe and sub-region. The song depicts Lango as a blessed tribe and explains our rich heritage in aspects of climate, physical features, historical sites, past glorious personalities and so much more. “Awot Ityena” sounds so Jamaican but sang in Leblango with some blend of English. The song is generally beautiful.
What advice would you give to upcoming musicians, and any youth out there with a dream to do music?
Young artistes and any other youth out there should first focus on academics. Education is an eye-opener, a key to exposure and literacy and power. Secondly, young musicians should learn to be patient and disciplined and above all, avoid the use of drugs, bad peer groups, and gambling. Virtue is the deal if they wish to succeed.
How has growing up in northern Uganda made you the person you are today?
Northern Uganda is generally a very nice region but I must say we have been through a lot, in terms of rebel activities, from Alice Lakwena to the Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony. During this period of insurgencies, musicians played a great role in fighting for peace and this was a paramount contribution. I should say the positivity all these artistes portrayed since childhood until now, triggered my need for positivity.
Is there anything else that you would like your fans to know about you?
Yes. My fans out there should know about my side businesses. I am a professional handset technician and I own a big shop in Lira City called Link Phone Repair And Spares. I am also a lecturer, and a farmer.
On the other hand, on behalf of the management of Capstone Music Inc headed by DJ Anko Fiffz, I would love to say we are grateful to everyone across the globe for the support and love because our songs and mixes and online radio received love across the globe.
Lastly, I wish to sympathise with the whole world and the victimised families who have fallen prey to Covid-19. I advise that we try as much as possible to stay safe from Covid-19.