Thursday, January 07, 2016

SUGU: Brought Hip Hop to Tanzania

Sugu, Joseph Mbilinyi
Known for his stage names Mr. II, Sugu and 2Proud, Joseph Osmund Mbilinyi is one of the founders of Hip hop music in Tanzania.

His lyrical style, which is methodical yet quick, has been mimicked by many of the genre’s newcomers. His peers view “his observant narratives, canny wordplay and flamboyant delivery” as a trademark of their genre.

Sugu is also the founder and director of Deiwaka Entertainment Company Limited that has dedicated itself in promoting and developing Tanzanian
Hip hop/Bongo flava as part of the fight against poverty and unemployment among youths in Tanzania.

He has traveled around the world performing. He's respected among his peers for his outstanding contribution to helping the music business find its own direction.

Sugu, which loosely translates to 'Stubborn' or 'Hard', is the truly living legend in the Tanzanian and East African rap arena. He gets an outstanding credit and respect for his contribution on giving life to Tanzanian rap/Bongo flava music.

He helped Tanzanian rap music to find its own way of developing into business -- creating hope and opportunities in life to thousands of urban youngsters from the streets of Tanzania and East Africa in general.

He was the winner of the Best Hip hop Artist Award at the Tanzania Music Award in 2000 and the following year he won Tanzania's Best Male Artist Award at the M-Net Africa Grammy Awards.

In 2005 his album 'Moto Chini' was nominated for the Best Hip hop/Rap Awards at the Tanzania Kili
Music Awards.

Sugu's music speak for itself. He is not and has never been afraid to tell it as it is, whether it's about himself and his personal life experiences and challenges, or issues affecting his society at large like corruption, poor democracy, human rights, police brutality, government officials and the misuse of powers, prostitution and underage prostitution, love and relationships, self confidence or anything around his daily real life.

Sugu hails from Songea in Ruvuma Region. He was born on May 1, 1972 and started being interested
in rapping while at secondary school in Mbeya town where he was living with his family and attending Mbeya Day Secondary School.

While at school in 1989, he teamed up with his two school friends to form a group called B.V.S.M.P.
They used to exchange rhymes on school corridors during break times between classes -- not knowing at all it was coming to get him this far!

After completing secondary education in 1991, his musical journey continued. Back in Mbeya in 1992 he connected with other friends, DJ BBG and San Jacko to form a rap group known as 'Niggaz II Public'.

As a group they did shows at every school and college in Mbeya town before they signed a contract with GTZ -- a German non-governmental organization.

After discovering their early potential and the hype rap music was bringing among the youth, GTZ needed the group to do campaign shows on HIV and AIDS awareness around the town.

Soon the group became popular in Mbeya and the neighbouring towns. In 1993 Sugu moved to Dar es Salaam where he later took on a solo career and got more serious with music and since then there was no going back for him.

In 1994 he joined briefly with a group called 'Da Young Mob', so he could have a chance to participate in the Yo' Rap Bonanza competition (solo artists were not allowed to participate in the competitions).

The competition was organised annually by the then much renowned entertainment company, Kim & The Boyz in Dar es salaam. After shining from first round to the finals, 2Proud and Da Young Mob ended up third winners.

The same year, Sugu, then using the name 2Proud, recorded his first single 'Siku Yangu' which means 'My Day'. The song became a big hit and introduced him and his music to fans all over the country.

As the first real Tanzanian rap star, Sugu has performed at venues in almost every town in Tanzania and was the first artist to tour the country entirely. Since the release of his first single and album, Sugu made hits after hits, toping the local radio charts throughout all these years, doing collabos with a number of artists and also introducing new talents into music.

In 1995 he released his first album 'Ni Mimi', opening the gate for non-stop album releases. His much credited sophomore album 'Ndani ya Bongo' came out in 1996, then 'Niite Mr 2' in 1998, 'Nje ya Bongo'' in 1999, 'Millenia' in 2000, 'Muziki na Maisha' in 2001 and 'Itikadi' in 2002.

And after a 'brief retirement' and while spending a period of time in the UK, he met with a Kenyan born UK producer Sir Prestige, who convinced him to go back to the studio and “do it for the fans.”

They went to the studio together in South London and in 2004 he released his eighth album, a self-titled 'Sugu' followed by 'Coming of Age/Ujio wa Umri', which was produced by a famous Swiss producer known as DJ Link and released in 2006 with a bang.

Sugu released his tenth album 'Veto' last December. The album was recorded at S&S Studios in Brooklyn, US, under producers Stiggo and Puzo. Local Hip hop artistes like Joseph Haule aka 'Professor Jay', Msafiri Kondo ‘Solo Thang’, Hamis Mwinjuma ‘MwanaFA’, John Simon ‘Johmakini’ and Ahmed Dolla ‘Balozi’ feature in the ten-track album.

His voice continued to dominate the airwaves in Tanzania and as far as Lubumbashi in DR Congo and with over nine albums so far released on his name, he is no doubt the most productive MC ever in East Africa.

Ask many of the artists in Tanzania who was their first influence in music? Most of them will say Sugu. A number of big Tanzanian and some East African artists have admitted openly that they learned how to flow by copying his early days lyrics!

In his music carrier he has performed and made appearances internationally in the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium and the US.

He also participated at various international music festivals like the 1998 WOMEX Festival in
Stockholm, Sweden, where he shared the audience with legendary African singer Oliver Mutukudzi from Zimbabwe.

He also featured at the 2001 Festival Mundial in Tilburg, the Netherlands where he was also 'blessed' to share the audience with another African legendary musician, Baaba Maal from Senegal.

Sugu also performed at Zanzibar International Film Festivals (ZIFF) 2000/2001 Sauti za Busara Festival in Zanzibar in 2005 and hosted several Hip hop/rap live show.

The outspoken musician, who is embroiled in a row with an American firm, Malaria No More, over a recent malaria campaign in the country, is still remembered as the first person ever to initiate and organize the first ever Hip hop concert by an American super group to be held in Tanzania.

In 1998, the Lost Boyz, then a very big and world famous group from New York, went to Nairobi, Kenya for a concert.

Sugu, without even being sure about business side of it, he took the risk and managed to convince Kenyan promoters who booked the group for that East Africa tour to bring the group for a concert in Dar es Salaam as well. They agreed and Lost Boyz came and gave a great and memorable show.

Apart from just recording and performing, Sugu has done a lot of activities for the development of
Tanzanian rap music and the local music industry in general. He organised a historic event, the 'Tanzania Hip hop Summit', which was held successfully with a very positive impact in Dar es Salaam in December 2004.

More than 500 music stakeholders, among them were artists, producers, radio DJs, journalists, Tanzania copyright society representatives, diplomats from American embassy in Dar es Salaam, university professors and doctors, attended to discuss developments and problems facing music industry in Tanzania.

In 2005 using his company Deiwaka and in cooperation with the French cultural center in
Tanzania (Alliance Francaise), Sugu helped organise a concert by a Senegalese rap legend, Didier Awadi, who toured Tanzania as part of preparation for his 'African Presidents' project -- a very clever concept album of which Sugu is featured.

The same year, in collaboration with the Swiss embassy in Dar es salaam, he organized two big concerts in Dar es Salaam city's 'Uswahilini' areas. Prominent Tanzanian artists like Fid Q, Afande Sele, Saigon, Dr Levy and Sugu himself performed live on stage together with Chlyklass Crew, a number one rap group from Switzerland.

After releasing 'Coming of Age/Ujio wa Umri' album in 2006, Sugu once again went on the road for 'The Coming of Age Tanzania Tour 2006', giving massive live shows on stages in the packed venues from town to town across Tanzania.

His inspiration came from Ice Cube, Niggers With Attitude, Tupak Shakur, N.W.A, Scarface & Getto Boyz, Jay-Z and Russell Simmons.

Currently Sugu is serving as a Member of Parliament (CHADEMA) for Mbeya Urban.
Source: This Day

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