Santuri Safari are a loose collective of DJs, producers and musicians based in East Africa. Responding to what they perceive to be contemporary East African music’s identity crisis in the face of global influences (specifically citing the influence of mainstream hip-hop and R&B), the project brings electronic and hip-hop DJs/producers together with local musicians to make “underground” electronic dance music in east Africa. So far they’ve run production workshops and studio sessions in Zanzibar (at the Sauti Za Busara Festival) and Uganda (at the DoaDoa Festival). Later this month they’ll set up their third pop up studio at Kenya’s Rift Valley Festival in partnership with Nairobi creative hub Creatives Garage. Ahead of the event, the Santuri team shared two tracks with us recorded at their DoaDoa sessions in Iganga, Uganda, back in April.
First up is a pan-East African hip-hop collaboration entitled “Tusimame.” Building on a foundation of samples recorded from a mbaire xylophone, Dar-based producer Ambrose “Dunga” Akwabi and Kampala producer/rapper DJ Rachael teamed up on a call for east Africa’s hip-hop community to stand up. Ugandan crooner Giovanni Kremer Kiyingi lays down an easy breezy hook while six rappers from across the region (Reco Lyco, Ram Emcee, Ugly Emcee, Shamsila, DJ Rachael, and Bamulumba Yasin aka Jungle De Maneater) lend freestyled verses in Luganda, Swahili, Luga and Luso dialects. Listen on below and watch Santuri sound engineer Sam Jones break down the process behind the xylophone sample in a video here.
“Kanekasi (Esa’s Dark Meme Remix)” is proper club music that uses the same xylophone sample as “Tusimame.” Ugandan folk artist Joel Sebunjo, though known for his kora playing, contributes vocals as Giovanni Kremer Kiyingi and Kenya’s Sarabi lend their fiddle and guitar to production from Nairobi’s Celsius Degree head honch Saint Evo The Myth, Kampala’s DJ Ivo and UK/South Africa’s Auntie Flo collaborator Esa Williams. Ambrose (Akula Akwabi), Esa and Uganda’s Dark Meme (Ken Mvvalye) tagteam on a psychedelic house remix, which you can listen to below.