Hip hop music is a controversial thing. If it isn’t the guns, drugs, misogyny and violence, then it is the dude trying to convince us that our years of optical instincts are lying and that discoloured teeth, larval-stage dreadlocks, eyes half-cocked from prescription drug abuse and a series of tattooes indistinguishable from a network of scabies scars makes for a really handsome fellow.
But hip hop music is also controversial within itself with fans of different subgenres always hissing poisonously at each other across twitter horizons. Fans of trap music regard fans of old school gangsta rap with the derision of a jackal crossing paths with a hyena. Fans of 90s hardcore see Drake and Logic as an abomination that should be stricken off the earth. Fans of east coast underground would rather eat a snake’s placenta than shake hands with a fan of conscious rap. Fans of Old Kanye just need a dark room and the assurance of no witnesses to stab fans of New Kanye four times in each kidney.
And nobody likes jazz-rap fusion.
I particularly detest Miggles. And not in a mature way, like a seasoned music lover who, after leaving their teens, muddling through their twenties, and growing through their thirties learns that any generation’s diss of a particular music or song is a shot in their own foot because there is always an equivalent to that exact same clown in their own past. You hate Iggy Azalea? You had Vanilla Ice. You hate Jonas Brothers, you had N’Sync. You hate Little Urinal Ooze, Cardiac Be, 21 Sewage and the like? You had Juvenile, Master P and No Limit Soldiers.
When it comes down to it, you, as an individual, are not the standard gauge for music quality. If some one enjoys the music, then whether you feel the same way or not, it is, by definition enjoyable music. You shouldn’t judge.
You should not, but I do. I can’t help it, but play Miggles and my ears just vomit it back out. And I am not even sure it is Miggles himself. It could be any one of them. They all sound the same to me. New niggas is just new niggas.
Which brings us to Fresh Kid.
He is a lugaflow artist in the vein of Fik Fameika, Feffe Bussi and, if they have an ilk, all its constituents. A pneumatic little potato prancing across youtube screens. His songs struck me as so un-unique, so un-exceptional, so typical that, even though they are massively popular and are always playing in someone’s kafunda, or the radio your taxify or your askari’s ka-bluetooth speaker, I had no idea what he even sounded like: he just blurred into the rest of the noise.
Until the best publicity a Ugandan musician can get was visited upon him.
If Justin Smollet was Ugandan artist, instead of performing the worst casting, directing and cinematography production this side of the Venom movie, he would have done this instead: just have a minister ban him.
No one even knew who Panadol W’aBasajja was, (and we have mostly forgotten what, if anything, she still is) except during the 15 minutes when Mr Lokodo unwittingly conferred upon her those tens of thousands of extra views.
I love Bobi Wine music, but Kyarenga is the first Bobi Wine song I have stopped to listen to in years, as if he doesn’t release a new single every thirty hours. Then they banned the concerts. Now, I love that song. For two weeks I started every morning shower singing, “Eyalama doi doi!”
Fresh Kid is a seven year old rapper. Seven years old.
I can’t not picture him toddling onto stage in a onesie squeaking, “Fwech kijji in ja houch!! Chwoy you henj in ja ayaaa! Yike you juch don cayya!” Then breaking out in tears, “Mummmmy, jach one ij not chwowing!”
He performed at some ill-timed event recently– YKee Benda’s concert, my research staff tells me– ill timed because it took place at the moment when when the Minister In Charge Of Youth Affairs did not at the particular moment have anything too rigorous to minister over, and had time to check out some dope rhymes and phat beats.
She had nothing pressing on her table, nothing to concentrate fully on, nothing deeply absorbing, like for example the conundrum of Uganda’s teen pregnancy rate (24 percent in general, rising as high as 34 in rural areas) vis-a-vis young people’s access to safe sex education and protection (Of those 24 percent, half are unplanned and 88 percent happened because of lack of access to effective birth control) and the question of why our policy is so stubbornly “We shall only protect the obedient children from the potentially life-crushing consequences of early sex, but as for those kids who we brand as naughty or stubborn because they are just children, children who don’t know any better because they are just children, children who make mistakes because they are just children, children who need to be protected from themselves the most because they are just children, when it comes to those, our policy is we shall let them get HIV/AIDS, STIs, unwanted pregnancies, abuse and assault and go to hell; thus hath the government of Uganda spoken. May God Uphold only those of thee we like..”
No, she had time to check out the latest hits.
Which I can’t say I understand exactly, this notion of a minister with time for rap. I am barely employed right now; I’m just a freelance writer and upcoming screenwriter. I am not really that busy, but I still haven’t found time to listen to Middle Child.
So Minister Florence Nakiwala (Minister Flow would be a dope rap name) managed to catch a few bars of Fresh Kid.
You know how when you don’t like a rapper you just tweet some shade and that’s that? If you are a cabinet minister of Uganda, you do things differently. Like when you want a chicken rolla, you don’t just jump on a safeboda to the trading centre, you get three cars and a dozen armed cops to come with to some fancy hotel that serves them at 34,000 each.
So the minister made a statement on national TV in which she clarified the problem, i.e. that Fresh Kid was a kid, and since, ministerially speaking, money should not be earned by those under 18 — Children should not rap; they should be in school, to the best of her knowledge — she therefore recommended that Fresh Kid stop rapping and go to jail.
Ooops. Or go to jail Sorry. Autocorrect.
Now, at this point I need to make something clear: Fresh Kid can spit, his rhymes are fire, dude has bars, and other statements like that which all mean he is very good at rapping.
He is good at cliche brags about how popular, how admirable and how worthy of your envy he is. That’s what rappers do. The point is to do it well, which he does.
But even more than this, he is capable of articulating a relatable and incisive point about the struggle we all go through to better ourselves in a nation where the odds are against our success, odds which include our own government.
That’s what he did in this song, his response to Minister Flo-Rinse.
I won’t commit myself to calling him a keen writer, but whoever wrote those verses that Fresh Kid spit….
So we should be coming to the point of all this by now, but, I began to suspect around the eighth paragraph that there really wouldn’t be one.
I don’t even think the minister meant what she said. She must have been — What do they call it when a minister talks without thinking first? “Misinformed”.
Patrick “Fresh Kid” Senyonjo is properly fully currently enrolled in an educational schooling institute serving at this time at a Primary Two level. Also worth mentioning is that the law does not demand that people below the age of 18 starve to death– it actually is legally permissible for them to earn a living.
These are obvious things. No one assumed Baby Gloria wasn’t in school, or threatened to arrest her for being paid by Movit or whoever.
The problem is not The Miggles. The problem is that we take these ministers too seriously. Or that we take them seriously at all. We assume that just because someone in a formal outfit spoke into a microphone in a setting designated for utterances of importance, that they know what they are talking about or, even worse, that they mean what they say, yet, often times they just dislodge their jaw, unclench their tongue and, with neither us nor them having any hint of what is going to happen next, cry havoc and let loose the dogs of bullshit.
Then these mouth-farts become headline news and trending topics and the perpetrator has to run with it. They can’t back away, they have no choice but to convince themselves to believe it.
Nilepost reported here that Fresh had to miss the large part of a school day this week to go to the Minister’s office and show how weekends work.
“Infant rapper Patrick Ssenyonjo alias Fresh Kid, yesterday skipped the bigger part of his school day to meet with Minister of State for Children Affairs, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi.Fresh Kid together with his parents Paul Mutabazi and Madrine Namata and manager, arrived at the Minister’s office in Kampala…
It says she “cleared” him to proceed with his little career, as if it is up to her to decide who gets to sing on Saturdays.
I loved the intro of the report — it started with teeth dug deep into the meat of the matter — but I think we still could do better. We should have ignored Nakiwala completely in the first place. If we just stop wasting our time on ministers who talk out of the wrong end, maybe they will stop wasting their time doing so.
Until Nakiwala has something to about providing for impoverished dropouts who have to sell blackening mangoes in traffic to support their families, let’s just tune in to some dope music instead. Like Taki Taki.
Since you are here, can I link to my weekly Nilepost column House of Falament? Read it also. Every Wednesday we go up. Verre funneh.