Exploring the Depths of The Mith’s ‘Systeemu’.
By Ziyal Amanya (@ziyalogy)
Since the release of the groundbreaking album “The Ugandan” in 2020, which firmly established itself among the best Ugandan hip-hop albums in recent memory, The Mith has been anything but idle. This lyrical virtuoso has been a dedicated crusader for Ugandan hip-hop and the urban Kampala music scene, actively working both on stage and online to promote the genre and its artists.
In the period between the release of “The Ugandan” and his latest project, The Mith has maintained strong working relationships with his go-to producers, like Koz-N-Effekt and Simon Elly, two talented individuals playing pivotal roles in shaping the sound of Ugandan rap in general with Koz-N-Effekt bearing the brunt of the responsibility for The Mith’s previous album’s sonic cohesion. Simon Elly, on the other hand, has earned a sterling reputation for his exceptional sampling work, which has secured him a prominent position in Ugandan hip-hop production circles. The expertise and unique styles of these two producers have been instrumental in helping The Mith find and refine his own signature sound, a distinct blend that sets him apart from his contemporaries in the industry.
The Mith’s ability to collaborate effectively with Aethan in his earlier projects and Koz-N-Effekt in his more recent work has allowed him to develop a sound that is unmistakably his own–a sound that resonates with fans and makes him stand out among his peers. This powerful combination of talent and teamwork has undoubtedly contributed to The Mith’s success as one of Uganda’s leading hip-hop artists, and it’s exciting to see how the contribution of each one of these players will continue to shape the future of Ugandan hip-hop.
The Mith’s latest EP, “Systeemu,” is a testament that even a seasoned veteran can still grow as an artist, showcasing his ability to wrap his lyrical prowess in irresistible melodies and top-notch production – something he has never laxed on anyway. This six-track project features an array of outstanding songs that highlight The Mith’s versatility in style and theme, right from introspective tracks like “Conversations” to the infectious “Good Vibes,” which showcases Akeine’s powerful vocal performance and has understandably quickly become an anthem in Kampala and on Twitter.
The EP “Systeemu” not only showcases the production skills of other producers like Mugabi, Brice Ogweng, Mio Made It, and DJ Chapat, and the engineering expertise of Sam Lamara but also highlights The Mith’s dedication to growth. One notable example of this blending of styles is the expert sampling of legendary Ugandan singers Charles and Frida from the 1960s on the track “Stylo.” This isn’t the first time the duo’s music has been woven into contemporary Ugandan hip-hop; their work was previously sampled by Aethan for Navio’s song “Nawuliranga” on his 2011 album “African Hustler Music.” Sonically, “Stylo” pays homage to the past while forging a fresh and innovative musical future for Ugandan hip-hop.
“Conversations,” the opening track, serves as a heartfelt homage to his late grandfather. Produced by sampling maestro Simon Elly, recorded by Mio Made, the song was like the rest of the EP engineered by Sam Lamara. The track delves heavily into themes of grief, loss, rising up and legacy. The Mith explores the concept of carrying on the legacy of those who came before us. As he reflects on being named after his grandfather, he makes a personal promise to pursue an even greater legacy with unwavering focus and determination. Inspired by the encouragement of his grandmother, who always believed in his potential to shine brightly, The Mith contemplates his journey toward finding inner peace.
It showcases a side of The Mith that we haven’t seen in some time, revealing the depth of his thoughts and emotions, underscoring The Mith’s ability to combine powerful storytelling with his exceptional talent as a rapper. However, even with its introspective, deeply personal subject matter, “Conversations” does not set the tone for the rest of the EP – as the rest of the tracks take on a lighter and more upbeat mood.
The Mith’s commitment to making hip-hop more accessible to the average Ugandan listener is evident as the EP carries on. By incorporating familiar and popular local sounds without sacrificing his lyrical prowess, The Mith strikes a delicate balance that maintains the essence of hip-hop while broadening its appeal. On “Gwe Asiinga,” The Mith’s younger brother and podcaster TheCountMarkula showcases his songwriting talent. “Gwe Asiinga” picks up where “Good Vibes” left off, offering a danceable track that appeals to the trending urban sound of Kampala, similar to the experimentation seen with other rappers like Play01 and Adrenalyn Muzik.
“Gwe Asiinga” is another perfect example of how local hip-hop has experienced a phase of intersecting with Afrobeat and Kidandali, and The Mith has demonstrated his ability to navigate this crossover with ease. This is also evident on previous projects like the single “Nambi” featuring Blixxack that preceded the EP, as well as “Nyenya” featuring Tucker HD and Blixxack from his previous album, “The Ugandan.”
Throughout his career, The Mith has consistently demonstrated his ability to write engaging love themed verses that appeal to the ladies. One such recent example is his contribution to the national hit “Amaaso Remix” with Winnie Nwagi and other Swangz Avenue stars. “Sunny Days,” the upbeat and infectious love song on The Mith’s EP, features an impressive lineup of collaborators, including Charmic Sentongo, Ebrahim Soul’O, and Niwe Akeine. Produced by DJ Chapat and recorded by Mio Made, this track marks the second time Akeine is featured on the EP. Akeine’s undeniable talent for crafting catchy hooks has made her the go-to vocalist for Kampala rappers since she burst onto the scene.
The inclusion of an Amapiano track like “Sunny Days” on The Mith’s EP is a reflection of the genre’s growing popularity in Kampala and across Africa. In recent years, it’s become almost essential for artists to have at least one Amapiano-infused track on their projects, given the genre’s widespread and viral appeal. ‘Sunny Days” offers a refreshing and upbeat vibe before the project concludes with “Taano Wange.”
“Systeemu” boasts a remarkable roster of skilled producers behind the scenes, including Mio Made It of ICON Studios, Simon Elly, Koz-N-Effekt, DJ Chapat, Dagg Mizzo, Mr. Mugabi, and Brice Ogweng from Muddy Boots. To round off the EP with a professional finish, award-winning hip-hop producer Sam Lamara took charge of mixing and mastering at Talent Africa Studios.
This latest offering from The Mith feels like a natural continuation of his previous acclaimed work, “The Ugandan.” It’s always refreshing to have a new, cohesive project from the leading names in Ugandan rap, and “Systeemu” is a welcome addition to the collections of discerning fans.