MC Yallah: The East African rap queen taking part in by her guidelines

The world is buzzing with drunken dialog as a soundcheck indicators one more act in a night of spectacular performances. An annoying mic feed splits the air, interrupting transactions on the cocktail bar and stopping these heading to the washrooms mid-stride. Shortly thereafter, chaos erupts.

Balanced delicately in excessive heels, a feminine artist attired in essentially the most beguiling night put on is kicking up a storm onstage. With one hand clasping the microphone and the opposite guiding the connecting cable across the stage effortlessly, she may simply be floating. She is beckoning the viewers to affix her set. She needn’t.

Backed by a band churning out sonorous growls, jangled riffs, mini explosions and all method of distortions, we’re ushered into the realm of unconventional hip hop, the place loss of life steel meets singeli and avant-garde electro enhances Ugandan conventional drumming – all pieced collectively by fast fireplace lyrics from MC Yallah.

Unapologetically female and avenue in supply, she has unleashed a maelstrom that can suck us in for an hour or so. A nimble rap murderer, she will deconstruct essentially the most complicated points in verse, switching effortlessly between Luganda, Swahili, English, Dholuo, Sheng (Kenyan slang) and Lugaflow (Ugandan slang).

Welcome to the ‘MC Yallah Present’ – a frenetic, absorbing affair that won’t solely depart you gasping for air and drenched in perspiration, however do a quantity in your social conscience.

The very first thing I need to ask MC Yallah a number of months after that present is, who’re you and the place have you ever been? However because it seems, that query ought to’ve been redirected to me. You see, MC Yallah has been within the sport because the late Nineteen Nineties. A Kenyan by delivery and a Ugandan by upbringing, Yallah Gaudencia Mbidde is the quintessential East African. At house in Kampala, Nairobi or Dar es Salaam, she will simply straddle the cultural identities defining the three cities higher than most artists, enabling her to craft well timed homilies.

A pioneer in her personal proper, she began her profession when hip hop was at its infancy within the area within the mid-’90s. This was the interval when the American sound was beginning to penetrate the African airwaves and its attendant tradition was being replicated in city areas.

“My curiosity in music was sparked after listening to American hip hop artists like Tupac, Biggie, Busta Rhymes and Jamaican dancehall stars equivalent to Chaka Demus & Pliers, Shabba Ranks, Patra and lots of extra,” MC Yallah says. “Nearer to house it was a Ugandan hip hop group named Younger Vibez that pushed me into the sport. In 1998, I made a decision that is it. That is what I need. That is what I’m going to be.”

What, I ask, was it like beginning out not solely as a feminine artist however as a purveyor of a style that was nonetheless a international idea to many on the time? 

“It was each difficult and attention-grabbing on the identical time. There have been few venues and even fewer studios. We had completely no recording charges. All we thrived on was the help we acquired from the small viewers we performed to.”

After a number of years within the sport, MC Yallah took a break in 2003 for household causes as she was anticipating her first youngster. It was this break that provided her actual perspective. “I missed music a lot, and it’s at this level that I actually knew it was a calling. In 2008, I made a comeback.”

However the comeback was not as simple as she had anticipated. The panorama had modified and he or she was roughly a forgotten entity, unable to get airplay on radio and even within the golf equipment.

That was till in 2013 when she met Derek Debru and Arlen Dilsizian – the 2 mavericks behind Ugandan underground labels Nyege Nyege Tapes and Hakuna Kulala and the world-famous Nyege Nyege Competition. It’s by the duo that she encountered Berlin-based producer Debmaster. It was a match made in beat heaven.

“I had reached some extent the place I had achieved all of it and it was not understanding for me till I acquired beats despatched by Debmaster. I listened, and I used to be like, that is it. It was so difficult, and I felt I wanted one thing to problem me on the time.”

Practically six years after speaking on-line, the 2 met and carried out collectively onstage for the primary time in Venice in 2019. Not lengthy thereafter, the union gave delivery to MC Yallah’s acclaimed 2019 debut album Kubali. The 2 have continued to work collectively since, taking part in gigs in Spain, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, the UK, Netherlands, Italy and Australia

Why so many European excursions? 

“There’s a greater appreciation of my music outdoors East Africa,” MC Yallah says. “My work has been properly acquired in Europe and the remainder of the world. Look, I’ve been in Australia for 3 years in a row now. The love in Australia is wonderful. There may be nothing totally different concerning the music I play – solely the publicity. I hope East Africans will quickly embrace the totally different genres of music present on the market and never simply what the media is feeding them.”

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