So, we shall start the story a little earlier. During the year, rapper Tom Mayanja, alias The Mith, released his long-awaited EP Systeemu at the end of March.
The six-track EP recollects a lot of rappers, like the past, bits of the present, and where he wants to go.
Unlike the past bodies of work he has put out, this one wasn’t only intentional; he seemed to understand himself better as a person, African and Ugandan, through the lyrics, message, and choice of collaborators.
He chooses mainly people who, one would say, make him better or with whom he flows better. Thus, while listening, the sound of Akiene on one of the hooks never felt forced for commercial success, and so did the presence of Charmic Ssentongo or Ebrahim Souló; they were never on the album to deliver simple lines but to progress the culture as well.
On Saturday, at Alliance Francaise, The Mith hosted Tuyingire Systeemu, a celebration of hip-hop, his music, and the EP.
The rapper took his Alliance audience on a journey through his albums like Destination Africa and The Ugandan with the support of the people he has collaborated with over the years, and they were there for the entire thing.
Whether he was performing ‘I Give You Love’ or ‘Sunny Days’, the audience was in sync with his energy. What makes these hip-hop shows different is that the people in the audience are always more than fans; they love the music, and at times, some of them are artists as well.
These hip-hop shows create a unique sense of community, where the audience members not only appreciate the music but also share a deep passion for it. The rapper’s ability to connect with his fans on such a personal level creates an electric atmosphere that is unmatched in other genres of music.
But that wasn’t all, The Mith was about the past weekend, on Sunday, he was featured in the second episode Tusker Malt Conversessions that was shot at a plush golf course.
During the episode, the rapper got the opportunity to tackle a number of issues that he has been criticised and asked about, such as never singing in Luganda even when he’s a Mayanja.
“As a Muganda, I’m trying to speak to a wider audience, but when a song such as ‘Ehh Mama’ do, there is Luganda sprickled here and there. These things have been there all my career, when I receive a beat in studio, I think about it in English, I go where the words take me. Funny thing, there is a song on my first album where I am battling myself, the Luganda side of me versus my English side. Today, I realise that I have to cater to a lot of people, my Luganda side, my English side, my Lunyole side and my selfish side,” he says.
Through songs such as Ehh Mama, Give Her Love, Lighter and Go Harder, there was a lot to appreciate about his skill of wordplay but as well the rhyme and poetry part of him.
Surprisingly, he says when they were growing up, it was Helena Mayanja, his sister that used to be a rapper, and was complete with a stage name, MC Longflame, but it was him that went on to do it professionally.
For many Ugandans, The Mith is the guy they learnt about when they discovered Klear Kut, Navio, JB, Langman and Papito. He says to date, he still has a healthy competition with all the members, even those that are not very active.
“I’m I the best rapper out of Klear Kut? So, we are five and everyone of these guys has something I want to learn from. I’m seeing Navio’s accessibility and want to learn from that. Papito’s passion, Langman’s wit and JB’s energy and I’m trying to learn from all this and incorporate it into my delivery. The best thing about this is that there was always friendly competition when we recorded. When we recorded All I wanna Know, none of us were in studio when the other was recording, I wrote about four verses for that song,” he says.
He also elaborates about managing Navio, he had wanted to manage Navio against his will; “Navio wanted me to continue recording but I wanted to manage him, one time we go for a project in Nairobi and they wanted to record a cypher, I think being around that energy pulled me out.”
The rapper also says he had thought The Ugandan Album was going to be his final album but found himself writing more during Covid-19 and believes he is still here because he’s clearer on what he wants to put out and how he wants to be seen.
The rapper once caused controversy when he posted that he was the best rapper, but he says he has always said that in his lyrics, and he was surprised people never noticed.
“I said that because I’m not competing with anyone. Before, I wanted to be better than everybody. Today, I want to be the best version of myself.”
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