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Uganda On The Beat: Suzi Analogue’s Beatmaking Notes From Kampala

New York producer/songwriter Suzi Analogue shares her beatmaking notes and photos from Kampala's hip-hop scene.


This is Suzi Analogue here. If you're now tuning in, ki kati from Kampala, Uganda. I am here, live in East Africa, from NYC (by way of a handful of other dope East Coast cities) instructing a beatmaking class at a cultural center here for youth. My background is a producer/songwriter.

The class is a part of a cultural diplomacy program called Next Level that shares hip-hop around the world as a way for us to promote peace and understanding worldwide. Four US hip-hop artists are chosen in Next Level to instruct the areas of breakdancing, MCing, beatmaking and DJing.

In hip-hop music globally, the beat itself serves as the backbone for people to come together and share ideas and self-expression; so I name my series of experiences: #UgandaOnTheBeat

During this month I am instructing, as well as creating a live show with Uganda's rising hip-hop scene which is ready to bubble over. From cyphers, to breakdancers and DJs, Kampala is a vibrant city with people who truly love to represent the most beautiful aspects of hip-hop culture.

My workshop students have all different backgrounds, but music unites us. On our first day, a lot of students told me that they looked up to DJ Premier and Timbaland as their favorite beatmakers. While Kampala has a growing b-boy and MC scene, beatmaking is still on the come up - but my crew is passionate to work together and build their own sound that represents them. Our main goal is to make "engoma nzibu" - dope beats.

Lex, Simon, Mark all working on Ableton Live

Danrise & Nase using Ableton Live and Midifighter from DJ Techtools

Unfortunately, no young women joined my class, which I hope will change in the future - but some young ladies are holding in down in the MC workshop, instructed by Madlines, a woman MC representing Oakland - which is a great sign for what's yet to come in UG Hip-hop.

MCs: Twitch, Tushi MC, and Zion

The first week has been action packed. There have been so many sights and sounds to take in. Uganda is referred to as "the pearl of Africa," and spend just one day in this diverse city of Kampala and you will understand why. I am in love with the sienna clay roads that wind up the hills of the city, down to Lake Victoria or Nalubaale as it is called in Luganda dialect.

​There are sweet landmarks around too, like the Uganda National Mosque, which is the largest mosque in East Africa.

​Frankie SB, Bboy Instructor at the National Mosque

The highlight of my first week so far has been making connections with the music lovers of Kampala. Me and the crew hit up some national Ugandan talk shows to spread love for hip-hop with interviews and cyphers.

Next Level Uganda Crew: Madlines (MC) Suzi Analogue (Beatmaker) Frankie SB (BBoy) Rabbi Darkside (DJ)

Big shout outs to Urban Today Show and NTV's The Beat. The Beat is a tight show that features new videos and interviews from emerging UG Hip-Hop artists, hosted by Douglas and DJ Bryan. The videos are counted down and actually VJ'd (video dee-jaying), which is pretty popular here in Kampala.

I won't lie, Uganda has some pretty official hip-hop videos dropping from new artists. It is exciting to see where they are taking the culture. Here is a clip of our cypher with UG Hip-Hop artists Flex Da Paper and CODE who are making music to represent the youth culture of Uganda.

All of the adventures this week will come to a head this upcoming Saturday night where we will perform a hip-hop showcase with our students, as well as new collaborative music pieces with traditional Ugandan instrumentalists from the Ndere Cultural Center at a venue called La Bonita. At Ndere, the musicians play original, handmade instruments that we are blending into live performance.

Next week I will have more to share! But for now: tunaalabagana (see you later).

xx+Suzi

Keep up with Suzi Analogue on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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Back in 2015, a group of Black women activists appeared in the French media: les afrofems. They were and still are, fighting against police brutality, for better inclusion in the media and to destroy harmful sexual stereotypes surrounding black women among other worthy goals. Since then, more influential Black women have gained a bigger representation in the media. And, even better, some of the afrofems activists, like Laura Nsafou and Amandine Gay, have made films and written books to bring more diversity to the entertainment industry.

2018 has, in many ways, been a year where black women made strides in France, at least in terms of culture. From winning Nobel prizes, to having best selling books and being on top of the charts, Black French women have showed that, no matter how much France wants to keep them under the radar, they're making moves. And, no matter the tragedies and terrible events that have shaped the year, it is something worth celebrating.

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We begin with Aya Nakamura, France's new queen of pop music. Her song Djadja was a summer hit. Everyone from Rihanna, to the French football team who successfully won their second world cup, sang it. Her sophomore album "Nakamura" has been certified gold in France and is still on top of the charts. She is the first French singer to have a number one album in the Netherlands since Edith Piaf in 1961. The last time a black woman was as visible in pop music was in 2004, with Lynsha's single "Hommes...Femmes".

Nakamura has received a huge backlash, mostly due to misogynoir—misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles. From a French presenter butchering her African first name despite the fact that he can easily pronounce words like "Aliagas", to online trolls calling her ugly and manly when a picture of her wearing no makeup surfaced, to people complaining that she is bringing down the quality of the entire French pop music industry, Nakamura responds to her critics gracefully. Her music is not groundbreaking but her album is full of catchy songs with lyrics using French slang she masters so well that she came up with her own words like "en catchana" (aka doggy style sex). And most importantly, many black girls and women can finally see someone like them in the media getting the success she deserves.

The Nobel Prize Winner

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Another Black French woman has broken records this year: the Guadeloupean writer Maryse Condé who won the Alternative Nobel Prize, a prize meant to replace the Nobel Prize in Literature, after the scandal that the Swedish Academy of Literature faced last year. Condé wrote her first novel at only 11 years old and has been prolific ever since. A former professor of French literature at Columbia University, she has published more than 20 books since the 1970s, exploring the complex relationships within the African diaspora. "Segu", her most famous novel, is about the impact of the slave trade and Abrahamic religion on the Bambara empire in Mali in the 19th century. Condé's work is radical and she remains committed to writing feminist texts exploring the link between gender, race and class, as well as exploring the impact of colonialism. Condé is a pillar of Caribbean literature and it's taken long enough for her work has been acknowledged by the Nobel prize committee.

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From Comme un Million de Papillon Noir

And finally, 2018 has been the year where France's children's literature industry has finally understood how important, for the public, writers and publishers, being inclusive and diverse was. From Laura Nsafou's Comme un Million de Papillon Noir, a best selling book about a young black girl learning to love her natural hair which sold more than 6000 copies, to Neiba Je-sais-tout: Un Portable dans le Cartable, the second book of Madina Guissé published this year after a successful crowdfunding campaign, there are more and more children's and young adult books with non white protagonists. In France, there are still no stats about how diversity is doing, but in America, in 2017, only 7 percent of writers of children's literature were either Black, Latino or Native American.

There's still much to accomplish in France for the Black community to have better representation in the media, politics and all walks of life, but important strides have been accomplished this year, and it make me hopeful for what 2019 and the following years have in store.

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The artist, neé Momodou Jallow, was arrested in Stratford London in June when police pulled him over near a shopping center, claming that they smelled cannabis. Police officers asked Hus if he was carrying anything illegal, to which the rapper admitted that he had a 10cm folding knife in his possession. When asked why, he responded: "You know, it's Westfield."

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