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Tanzania is synonymous with Bongo Flava music, but there is one man; Ghafla, who is going all out to take Swahili hip hop to a new level. The young soul has outdone himself in it all. It is not easy riding against a wave, but he did it. Music dynamics in Tanzania are different in many ways and present many variables in their production and sound.
Going back to the day, the man in focus loved music, and he always had a dream to do songs in a different way. The Taarab, also a popular genre in Tanzania, inspired him to get into the industry and entertain people in a different way. Life, in general, gave him a much-desired starting kick in his songwriting. Daily experiences in life form the core of his music career.
Besides, American rap was very popular in the 1980s, and many Tanzanian teenagers were fascinated by the vibe it brought to the industry. This is the genesis of hard-hitting rappers who entertained their people with rich Swahili rap. At first, they rapped along to American beats before melding traditional and regional hip hop when the youth started rapping. It thus sparked a wave of curiosity among other budding and established artists, with the ‘Koti na Buti’ hitmaker being one of them.
Ghafla has a reputation as a cool rapper whose style is fluid yet so smooth. His voice earns him a loyal following because he is soft-spoken yet flawlessly lyrical. His music exudes a wide range of musical styles.
What’s outstanding about it is the use of powerful synth riffs and Tanzanian coupled with relatable lyrics. Musical pundits cite that you get a feeling of beautifully and artistically mashed-up Bongo Flava when you listen to songs by Ghafla. The only difference is that it takes on a unique sound that sets it apart from hardcore rap.
He brings out an aspect of a new Tanzanian musical culture informed by traditional and social influences. Further, the fact that his delivery is in Swahili adds the national flavour to By speaking exclusively about Tanzanian issues and eventually Swahili lyrics – from a language with several global influences – he localizes, an otherwise, foreign genre.
A classic case of this is his ‘Mashaka’ song with Jay Melody. The beats change from sampling American hip-hop to natural, synthetic beats with local beats, rhythms, and sound.
This particular song does justice to the rapper because it is an authentic hybrid of African-American music concepts. Ghafla has mastered this art, and most of his songs take on a mid-tempo style crowned by a perfect expression in a melodic voice.
He ensures that the meaning of his songs’ rhymes is in perfect Swahili, allowing him to personalise the hip-hop genre while still keeping it real" in the eyes of other competing genres.
His Swahili literary heritage employs the best and most enviable wordplay, rhyme and musical charm. The secret behind this style is carving a different path in a new sound different from gangsta rap people know hip hop for.
In a nutshell, some of his best songs adopt a Kiswacentric rap to give his records a cultural touch to their songs and artistic approach. In retrospect, the creation and local acceptance of Swahili hip-hop greatly influence his craft as an emerging artist.
It gives him a window to localise hip-hop by touching on issues affecting the citizenry and giving hope to the hopeless. It’s just more than entertaining for him. Ghafla music also takes in a political-driven cultural approach, borrowed from Nigeria and links it to the Tanzanian culture.
Ghafla Popular Songs
Koti Na Buti
Nyuma Ya Pazia
Ghafla Albums & EPs
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