By Mubanza Haggai (@mubanza)
Hip-hop music was birthed through sampling different music, one of the main reasons for it’s ever growing reach and currently the most influential genre in the world. It therefore comes as no surprise that rappers hop on beats by other artists and make their own versions which could sometimes become more popular than the original back here in Uganda but we need to be able to point out that there’s a difference with a remix, sampling and plagiarism.
Come 2016, Fasie featured Pryce Teeba on ‘Choices (Tugende Maaso)’ which was a remix of Californian rapper E-40’s Choices, Fefe Bussi also followed suit and released his own version titled ‘Yes/No’ which became a staple on Ugandan airwaves and is one of recent biggest hits in the Ugandan hip-hop mainstream, the track fueled or even began the advent of rappers making their own parody tracks to foreign tracks, the most notable mention of this trend is Fik Fameica who riding off the strength of ‘Byenyenya’ whose beat and flow was copied from ‘Friendly’ by UK rapper J-Hus, his biggest track so far ‘Kutama’ is also done on a beat that is copied from ‘Thitima’ by Kenyan duo Kaymo & Stigah, fortunately for him the music has won him an army of fans even as it has come to light that Fik Fameica is entirely dependant on outright plagiarism to create hits given the release of his recent track ‘Mafia’ whose beat was lifted from ‘Pepeta’ by Tanzanian rapper Chin Bees.
Alongside all the finger pointing, a quick look at the history of Ugandan hip-hop reveals we’ve had some chart toppers whose beats were simply and plainly lifted from foreign acts, tracks like Kiki Ekiganye by Mun*G was done on US rapper DMX’s ‘Up in Here’ beat, GNL’s ‘Soda Jinjale’ was lifted from ‘Peace Sells’ by American rapper Ill Bill but these artists have over time delivered great music with their own original content.
Fik Fameica recently on national television openly hit back at critics and defended his work saying if the fans love and appreciate the music then critics shouldn’t be hell bent on pointing out that his music isn’t made by him entirely from scratch. He can dismiss critics all he wants but ‘Mafia’ doesn’t help accusations that he isn’t a genuine artist, this line from his 2nd verse on the track is ironic;
” UPRS gababuguma, sente zaffe zemukukuma/ Mukussa mbuto zamwe tulye maluma”
takes jabs at UPRS (Uganda Performing Rights Association) for fleecing artists of what’s due to them over copyright of their songs, it’s basically Fik Fameica shooting himself in the foot given the fact that he’s rocking on beats he doesn’t own and is most likely not paying for, on the plus side ‘Mafia’ could be the track that takes the trap sound to the masses, to the average Ugandan music consumer by a Ugandan rapper opening the gateway for those with original content to make impact on the Ugandan or African music scene.
No doubt, hip-hop fans would like to see Ugandan rappers make dents on the local and African hip-hop scene but rappers won’t do that while rapping on beats they have no license/rights of ownership to, Fik Fameica was recently lined up to collaborate with Wizkid off the strength of his recent music so he should be able to move on with his army of fans while delivering his own genuine music. As fans of the music, we need to encourage and champion original content from the artists if we want Uganda to have sustainable music dominance.
You can share with us your thoughts on this in the comments section.
Watch the ‘Mafia’ video below.