COVER STORY: The Tribe UG Chats With Byg Ben.
By Felix Byaruhanga (@TheNinjaFelix)
A couple of weeks ago we kicked off The Tribe Chats, a campaign through which we had weekly interviews with some of the dopest rappers who are currently shaking things up in the UG Hip-Hop industry and raising the bar (you can catch up on The Tribe UG Chats here). Like all good things, The Tribe Chats are coming to an end this week with one last chat featuring the beast from the east Byg Ben Sukuya.
However, we’re closing it in style as we bring back The Tribe UG Magazine cover. Byg Ben graces the third edition of The Tribe UG Magazine and this time Saidi Stunner (photographer) took us to Kampala road to capture a couple of stills for the cover that are befitting of Byg Ben’s energy and award winning status. Furthermore, in the efforts of making this edition of the Magazine cover different from the past editions, we titled it in lumasaba; “Eyi’imbuka Ya Byg Ben” which translates to “It’s Byg Ben’s Time”. The title is a tribute to Byg Ben’s debut album “Imbuka Eyi’yange” and more importantly we hope it sparks a fire in the next young Byg Ben out there who may come across the cover. Letting them know that you can stay true to yourself/where you come from and still dominate the charts, headline shows, win awards and grace magazine covers.
Byg Ben brought his signature energy that he carries on stage/performances to the photoshoot as we moved from one street location to another looking for the perfect shot(s) in the perfect light for hours. That same energy did attract the boda-boda chaps across from us to engage with Byg Ben as they asked who he is and then later asked for a photo with him. It’s that same energy that we hope we captured in this interview for you. In our chat with him we talked about lessons from his debut album, his forthcoming album “Yvett”, how he managed to pull off the “UGs Most Wanted” the referees of the industry and his thoughts on the current state of the industry. Have a good read;
It’s been a crazy two years of the pandemic & lockdown restrictions. How have you been coping with the lockdown?
First off, what’s good y’all (hehe)? Bruv it’s good to speak to y’all and big up to the mandem Felix (where is Haggai). Hehehe. Nigga we been at this shit for a time now huh, hehe.
Now check Bruv, we have always been in the lockdown, emotionally, psychologically, and actually musically as artists we have been caged to the span of society. We out here selling an expensive dream to a customer who is trying to buy fantasy rather than reality. Look man, these 2 years have brought enough mental slavery than ever been seen. We all know we have been in studio making music but for who??? We are in a country gifted enough to not luck a meal but for how long if we can earn a deal? We need to move forward so yeah in these crazy 2 years of lockdown and restrictions we have been surviving just like how we have been before the lockdown and we are still here glory to God.
Let’s talk Yvett. I remember we had a chat and it was supposed to drop back in August. Why has it delayed?
YVETT is the best RAP Album Uganda will ever have to listen/show as a nation. Yes I laid dates for August BUT the best thing happen to those who wait. So We wait… no delay reasons but let’s just wait… a bit
What’s the story behind the title and the inspiration behind the album?
YVETT Album is dedicated to the memory of my Young Sister Kharono Yvett Sera (RIP) She is the first person who believed in me. This one time when I was in Senior 6, I came back home from school and she was crying because everyone was laughing at me at home and saying am spoilt and wasting money on me going to school while I write music all the time, yet I was going to school but just because of Rap, I was the spoilt one. You know ( White collar effect) Well at least she believed in me when no one did and this is for her. On God
Are there any lessons & knowledge from creating your debut album that you’re applying to the creative process of this album?
One thing about this whole thing is growth, you won’t know why but you will know how. I have lived and hustled enough to know when and when not to. I kinda went in hard to be active in lockdown because I knew my career is for every moment. My Debut album “Imbuka Eyi’Yange” is the best thing that has ever happened to me, we did a concert for it at the square and even had some of the best UG Hip-Hop Artists on stage like Tucker HD, Fasie, MC Yallah, Keya Nemesis to mention but a few. What we are doing with YVETT is tell a story from how it all started to how it’s going.
We don’t have the means to pull off what we did with my debut IMBUKA EYI’YANGE but we can just see how the energy is and let it flow. I mean the album features A-PASS, that’s reason enough to know we have grown and still are growing if we have the industry’s best featuring on the BEST ALBUM. This album, needs a platform like this Tribe UG Chats before it drops you know, had I dropped it before we wouldn’t be here maybe so yeah a we are indulging slowly slowly hehehe.
As The Tribe, we’re here for you and the album we can catch up when again when it drops. This is your sophomore album; what elements do you consider when marketing & pushing the new album? I know with the pandemic things have changed.
Bruh, Sophomore (laughs) really English my guy, let’s speak English
Anyway, look fam, There is a lot to consider from financial to interactive engagement. I have to say, guys have been patient but I haven’t had the right mind with my team to drop as yet but the album is ready. One thing I believe in everything happens for the right reasons BUT am trying to also look at the audience if they are ready or not because this is a whole body of work bruv. I rather keep it to myself NOT until peeps are ready because I really want this to be heard like out there for me, you and UG Hip-Hop. I want us to move forward collectively. We have become so Independent as rap artists and left the industry to amateurs.
Do you think people like boxing you in as a rapper from the East? Also is this a box you’re trying to break?
Am not trying to break anything, I am a Rapper from the East and that will never change BUT that doesn’t mean am boxed in. Hell No, at least I represent something, tell me what do these other rappers represent? Exactly. So yeah am okay being called a Rapper form the East and I’m coming to take it all to the East.
Speaking of breaking out of this box, do you think you’ve reached the ceiling of what UG Hip-Hop has to offer and now you’ve to focus on the Ugandan music industry has to offer?
Nah bro, UG Hip-Hop is the game, Ugandan Music Industry is the playground. Both have a lot to offer so we playing the game, we just have to have fair referees and an organized committee. Am focused on myself first, then industry will get sorted only when am focused. That’s my perspective and idea.
Who are these referees and organizing committee? Are they playing their role(s) perfectly?!
Hell no bruv, some are not playing their roles. With referees I mean the middle men, the people artist employ like for example presenters, media journalists etc… Bruv it’s not fair at all, I can name you mad talents that Uganda has never listened to but just because they don’t offer anything which is not their fault then they don’t get anything. Look at committees emerging now in the industry claiming to save it when actually they are saving their pockets and still nothing is done even after all the efforts. I am not blame shifting or trying to bring only the bad. Trust me, there is the good to celebrate and build on but still there is less to show.
Give artists endorsement deals, cut data costs and let people stream our shit, set up regional talent searches, promote culture and origin, let artists earn and see if there won’t be competitiveness. Bruh we need to shift from thinking Luganda is Uganda Sound when it’s not even our national language. We have given so much power to things that don’t even matter. Uganda is the priority BUT let’s step out of the box and give diversity a chance. The world will appreciate.
Let’s talk “UGs most wanted”, first off thank you for making us a part of the release/roll out plan. Secondly what was the goal/objective you were trying to accomplish with the project & what was your takeaway from pulling off such a project? Also should we anticipate “UGs Most wanted 2”?
BRUV, I have been planning to drop UGs Most Wanted Chapter 2 but this pandemic doesn’t fit in well and the budget is not balancing every now and then. When I did the first chapter my idea was to unite UG Hip-Hop through a Cypher that represents all regions in the country and to also introduced Uganda’s new talent to feature on the cypher. It was supposed to happen every year. I had a gaming business by then which supported the idea. But tried writing to a few companies to sponsor the idea but they were not willing to come on board so I had to plan things out and still I am. We are definitely getting CHAPTER 2 and I already have a list of Rappers to represent. We won Collaboration of the Year in the MTN Hip-Hop Awards 2020, we not done as yet. Expect Chapter 2 and expect it better.
Lastly I’ve to ask you, your current thoughts on the game/industry? What’s missing or what would you want to fix!
The game is safe, the Industry isn’t. We have given so much power to people who don’t even know how to write a good song. We have let the highest bidder win and left the most talent to squander. Because everybody is tryna survive and be a celebrity in your small Uganda. And we have a lot of tribalism, no body wants to see a Mugishu WIN in Kampala. Not even you Felix ok am done. But we need to fix ourselves and our minds, we can do better.