Audio

Bamboo 'Bibi Yangu'

Kenyan-American newcomer Bamboo drops a new track "Bibi Yangu," showcasing the rapper's ability to meld American and African hip-hop styles to great effect


Kenyan-American newcomer Bamboo has taken on the role of closing the gap between American and African hip-hop with his new track "Bibi Yangu" produced by K da Great and featuring a dope sample of Congolese rapper and producer Didjak Munya's track "Mukusa." What's even more interesting is that Bamboo raps in Swahili, despite it being his second language to English — a reversal of the more typical preferencing of the English language over native tongues in African hip-hop. After spending the early part of his childhood getting into trouble in the infamous Inglewood area of Cali, the rapper's parents sent him to live in Nairobi. It's precisely this mix of cultures and influences that inspire Bamboo to utilize the language and sounds of his parent country; as much as hip-hop's disciples in Africa are constantly willing to adopt American styles, the opposite is rarely true, leaving the cultural exchange between American hip -op and African hip-hop a bit lopsided. Bamboo wishes to redress this discrepancy not only by using Swahili in his rhymes, but also by infusing his sonic aesthetic with various styles of 1970s and 1980s African pop music as sampled reference points. Listen to "Bibi Yangu" below.

[H/T Fader]

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

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Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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