Archive for the ‘Hip-Hop’ Category

Hits That Are Sh**

Posted: June 8, 2012 in Hip-Hop

Sometimes I hate the music industry. Even hip-hop nowadays. Turn on the radio or TV and you’ll find there’s something in common with the big hits that are dominating the airwaves. They’re obsessed with sexing bitches, selling drugs, getting high, wasteful spending, shooting guns and worst of all, fashion. Rearrange the letters that form ‘hits’ and you’ll know what I think about that. Emperor Obama in a recent interview said that he is in love with the art of hip-hop, although he does not always agree with the messages in hip-hop. I find this is one of the few occasions I agree with the imperialist.


Hip-hop music is a beautiful artform. A level of poetic expression, the brilliance of which is not matched by any other genre of music. But how wasteful can we be if we spend all our time rapping about Red Bottom heels? Or how much money you spend in the club? Or how much weed you smoke? Okay, for the sake of art, perhaps you want to do a couple of tracks like that to get them off your chest. But how can your entire catalogue be about f***ing bitches, like Texan rapper Too $hort?

What concerns me though is that the trend is slowly creeping into Uganda. I get a lot of young aspiring MCs hitting me up and asking my advice on the lyrics they’ve written. A lot of the time, they are writing about some of the nonsense I’ve mentioned above. And who can blame these young impressionable minds when this is all that is played on TV and radio? Of course they will assume that you have to be exactly like Young Money if you want to be successful.

Over masturbation can cause semen to glue your fingers into weird positions.

I’m not suggesting that every rapper should turn into a conscious revolutionary struggle type MC like K’naan. I’m not an MC known for making predominantly conscious tracks either. But please let us have a little more diversity in the tracks we make, there are so many subjects under the sun. But more importantly, let us have a lot less negative messages influencing the minds of young talented up and coming MCs and their listeners.

How NOT To Love

Posted: June 8, 2012 in Hip-Hop

One of the great things about being an (able) artist, is the adulation bestowed upon us by adoring fans. I can’t even pretend to be humble about it right now, it really is quite nice. Just picture for a moment being a teller at Stanbic Bank and receiving an email from a customer just to let you know that the cheque you cleared helped her to pay school fees in time for her son to sit his final exams and this has brought happiness and joy to them both. Or perhaps you are a traffic cop and you find a couple of young lads waiting for your shift to end so that they may recount with you how moved they were by the masterful way by which you controlled traffic and that they wish to be like you one day. We all deserve appreciation for a job well done whatever line of work we may happen to be in.

However, sometimes I feel as if rules and regulations should be introduced to govern the function of praise giving. It is very common for someone to insult you deeply and irreparably while they are actually genuinely attempting to extol your virtues. I’ve had people telling me I’m “Wow! Great like Rick Ross” or that I have “nice relics like Real Wearn.” Anybody who has been paying attention would know that I-Am an enemy of MMG* and YMCMB** respectively. I actively detest these two ‘artists’ to the extent that I recorded a diss track for Lil Wayne way back in 2009. If President Museveni was in the middle of a hardcore chaw and his lady, while marvelling at his physique and strength, were to say, “Wow your thighs are so strong! You must do a lot of walking like Besigye.” I suspect that the love session would come to a premature end. She could try all she wants to make up for the stress with an offer of massage, but I guarantee that story will not have a happy ending.

With the economy so tight that he has to walk to work, Besigye supplements his income by filling in for me when I’m on leave.

So people, please be a little informed when dishing out compliments. You may indirectly be dropping nuclear warhead insults instead. Oh wow, Zari has just walked past! I’m a big fan! I need to rush over and tell her how she’s as beautiful to me as Judith Heard…

*MMG=Maybach Music Group, which is headed by Rick Ross.
**YMCMB=Young Money Cash Money Billionaires, aka Young Money Entertainment which was founded by Lil Wayne.

Enygma Of The State Decoded

Posted: June 17, 2011 in Hip-Hop

Okay, by now regular readers would have noticed that every now and then I decide to decipher the thought process behind my lyrics in a series called Decoded (named after Jay-Z’s book of the same concept). This time however, I’ll be doing things a little bit differently as I won’t be decoding my writings, but the artwork on my mixtape cover.

Is it me behind bars? Or is it you?

The first thing that stands out is the bars. To those who are uninitiated, a bar refers to a unit of music, it’s musical notation for a repeating pattern of musical beats. It is common for rappers to write one line of their lyrics for each bar in the beat and as such, the terms rhymes, lyrics, lines & bars have become so synonymous with each other that they are now pretty much inter-changeable. This has given birth to plenty of creative lyrics where an MC will boast of possessing “harder bars” than anyone else and other such statements.

With a knowledge of this background, it becomes pretty obvious as to why it would make sense for me to have metal bars on my mixtape cover as a metaphor for the lyrical/musical bars that will be heard on the CD. Listeners need only take one look and know that they will find some hard bars on my disc!

The prison bars also represent something else a little less obvious. I am standing up close to the bars peering through them almost in an expectant manner. My demeanour is that of a prisoner who has concluded his time locked away from the society and is now ready to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting public! This is a metaphor for my position in the hip-hop industry.

Many don’t know I had actually retired from rapping several years ago due to a variety of factors. My return to the mic after all these years of silence is akin to my being locked up in a prison cell and finally being set free.

To complete this graphical triple-entendre, the imprisonment of Enygma also has a relevance relating to my style of rap. From the very beginning, when I came out I was determined to be a little bit more interesting lyrically, even complex. My favourite lyricists do not spoonfeed me their thoughts but deliver them in more intricate ways which are often hidden and sometimes take multiple listens to be fully appreciated. This is the kind of MC I feel I am (or strive to be depending one’s viewpoint).

Unfortunately, most listeners prefer simple, easily digested lyrics that are delivered in bite-sized chunks. Proof of this is in the record sales where the majority of critically acclaimed lyricists are lagging behind, while characters like the oft ridiculed Soulja Boy, Wacka Flocka Flame and Plies are raking in millions. Thus, when I started recording for this mixtape, I was told over and over again that the listenership is not ready, that people don’t understand metaphors, that my punchlines will fall on deaf ears. This made me feel like I was in a psychological prison, as if I have to conform who I am as a writer to make everyone else comfortable. How can I express myself effectively if I am restrained from doing it in the way I choose?

Thankfully, there are enough listeners out there who did not find my writing that complicated or difficult to understand. These are my fans and I appreciate you all for embracing a style of lyricism which was very rare to hear on radio. Without you, this mixtape would never have come out.

On most CD covers, you’ll have the artist name and then the title of the mixtape/album. On this one however, only the title “Enygma of the State” is very clearly emblazoned across the face of the CD case.

Some eagle-eyed observers however, had managed to locate the logo of the name “Enygma” written on the tablecloth in the background. Seeing as I am all about being Enygmatic and mysterious with my hidden meanings, it’s wholly appropriate the my name should be a little hidden, even on my own CD cover 🙂

Earlier we talked about bars and their significance in music. Usually, a conventional hip-hop verse would consist of 16 bars. As such, the number 16 has a special place in the heart of many MCs. This is the reason why there are 16 tracks listed.

Need I say more? There are 16 tracks listed, but there’s actually one more hidden in there somewhere! I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that though…

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Props to Loukman Ali for designing the artwork.
You can buy my mixtape from MusicLand (Kampala Road), Yego Productions (Bukoto), Talent Africa (Kamwokya) and Roota Records (Namuwongo).

Work on the second mixtape has already begun…

Champions League Misery

Posted: May 31, 2011 in Hip-Hop

So that’s it for another year. Manchester United concede two stunning goals in the second half and all hope of securing another Champions League trophy evaporate for yet another year.

(If the words Nou Camp and Sir Matt Busby mean nothing to you. Or understanding the offside law is equivalent to deciphering Fermat’s Last Theorem, then I suggest you walk away right now. Come back for the next blog which might be about high heels and handbags…)

As a lifelong Manchester United fan I have been fortunate enough to enjoy many successes over the years. The club has a strong tradition of winning a trophy every season (Arsenal fans, take note). This season however, seemed to be heading in a different direction from the start. There hasn’t been much investment in the club in recent times and as a result, there have been gaping holes in key positions at the club (such as central midfield) and a dependence on senior players, a few of whom should have long since retired.

With such weaknesses in the squad this season in particular, overwhelming success was not particularly expected and Chelski’s status as the bookie’s favourites for the league title was a pretty fair assessment. However, when you have the greatest manager in the history of the game, he can sometimes be prone to acts of sorcery. Confounding most pundits’ early season expectations, Sir Alex led a squad labelled as average to a 19th League title. Leaving Arsenal’s Infants and Chelski’s Geriatrics in his dust.

As if such an achievement was not enough, we also found ourselves in the Champions’ League Final for the third time in 4 seasons. The problem was that we were facing Barcelona, who on their day are the most unplayable side the world have ever seen. The head would naturally tell you to relax, enjoy the game, be grateful you are in the final, don’t raise your expectations too high. This is not a vintage United Squad and as such should be expected to emerge victorious against the most elite XI that ever walked this earth. However, our Creator cursed us with a heart that gives us hope. Hope that told us that anything can happen in football and we shall once again lift the trophy affectionately known as Big Ears!

Lacking match-fitness, Darren Fletcher found other ways to contribute to the cause.

The match kicks off and the tension is so thick it would require an industrial heavy-duty chain saw to cut it. The hope that I had previously been merely flirting with before the match was now making out with me as Manchester United spent almost all of the first ten minutes in Barcelona’s penalty area. Alas, it was not to last. Barcelona eventually found their footing and once they got into their stride, it wasn’t long before they converted one of the chances they had started creating almost at will. A familiar feeling of impending doom began to sink in. 2 years ago we faced Barcelona in the Final and were defeated 2-0. This was supposed to be the realisation of our vengeance!

Wayne Rooney, perhaps remembering the bitter taste of defeat and determined to avoid a second helping took matters into his own hands and charged into the Barcelona penalty area, playing a quick one-two with 37 year old Ryan Giggs, before blasting it home beyond the Barcelona goalkeeper! 1-1! Game on!

Half-time allowed some respite from the drama and an opportunity to take stock of the situation. Both Manchester United and Barcelona had won this trophy on 3 previous occasions each. Whoever wins this game instantly leapfrogs the other in the history books. 45 minutes gone and we have acquitted ourselves well. 45 minutes to go with the score at 1-1! If someone offered that to me before the match, I would have bitten their arm and shoulder off! 45 minutes away from immortality! Sir Alex Ferguson was on the verge of becoming a legend to legends!

The second half was sheer misery. Someone must have served the Barcelona players Red Bull spiked with the urine of Zeus himself. Our players simply didn’t show up for the second half at all. Interestingly enough though, our defenders kept their shape well and Barcelona were still unable to pass their way through our centre-backs which is their usual route to goal. So naturally they decided to take a couple of shots from outside the box. And scored both.

With the score at 3-1, the writing was on the wall. The last minute comebacks that this club was famed for were not looking very likely against the possession football of Barcelona. By the time the final whistle blew, it was almost a relief to have the stress over and done with. As predicted and expected, Barcelona lifted the trophy while Manchester United players and fans looked on with begrudging respect that the better team had one.

I believe it is indisputable that there has never been a superior group of players to collectively kick a football. There is no shame to lose to such a great team. As a Manchester United fan, I can be proud of my team for being the most successful in England having won more trophies than any others (yes Liverpool fans, that includes you). We defied all expectations this season and so deserve to hold our heads up high. We must forget the despair of the Champions’ League Final and turn our focus to rebuilding and relaunching yet another attack on the crown next season.

But as John Cleese once famously said, “It’s not the despair, I can deal with the despair. It’s the hope…”

This is the encapsulation of our feelings.

How To Annoy An MC

Posted: April 26, 2011 in Hip-Hop

Fans are definitely among the wonderful elements of being in the music industry. When one has put in so much time and effort to craft art and it is appreciated by a (usually) impartial group of people, it is a magnificent feeling of vindication and gives strength to persevere and make more good works.

Fans express their joy and adoration in many different ways. For some it is merely greeting the artist. Others will write long detailed letters in their favourite rapper’s inbox. Others still will break into his bedroom and try on his underwear.

Sometimes though, the interaction between fan and artist can go horribly wrong. Any MC reading this will recognise the following conversation:

FAN: Hi there MC Rapper! You’re great!
MC: Thank you Ms. Fan, you may kiss my hand.
FAN: I love your new hit, “Lyrical MasterPiece!”
MC: Yes, it is rather marvellous isn’t it?
FAN: Indeed! It has a very good beat!

If at this point, the fan has yet to receive a cobra death grip to the oesophagus, then (s)he has done very well to evade an early appointment with the Grim Reaper and should count their blessings while marching briskly in a direction antonymous to the location of the slighted artist.

She told Chris his new song had a nice beat. So he gave her a nice beat.

I can hear some of you asking yourselves, what possible perceived wrong was committed by the innocent fan? Well, I can tell you. To ask a such a question is to disregard the input of the MC on each song. An MC is measured by his lyrics and his delivery. This requires a certain degree of intellect and creativity to conjure up verse after verse of imaginative self-expression. He needs to be in possession of a larger than average vocabulary so as to select the correct building blocks to construct his lyrical mansion. If one word is too long, it must be exchanged for one which has one less syllable. Alliterations, similes and metaphors need to be incorporated in such a way that they add value to verbal tapestry being woven together. An MC puts in a lot of thought to ensure that he achieves the materialisation of the vision he held upon initial conception of the track. He will need to intertwine these words with the instrumental so that they fuse together and become one glorious piece of art that shall perhaps be referenced for years to come.

So when the song comes out and someone says they liked the beat, it is not enough to say that you have insulted the MC. He may in fact feel less offended if you relieved your trouser of its belt, bent over exposing your newly liberated buttocks in his general direction and then released wind.

The beat is made by the producer. The MC’s involvement usually ends on selecting which beat he desires to use, but it is built by the producer. The MC’s is measured by his words; the words he has chosen and how has he utilised them upon the instrumental. If you are praising an MC’s song and only acknowledging the beat, you are rendering the MC completely insignificant. It could even be construed that you would have enjoyed the song more by listening to the instrumental without enduring the burden of the lyrics. This is truly a great insult to an artist who contributes large quantities of his blood, sweat, tears and brain matter into crafting this hip-hop song, only for his efforts to be dismissed out of hand. It is akin to telling John Grisham that you love his new novel, it has a nice font.

Sure there are some MCs who co-produce or even make their own beats entirely from scratch. But not only are they the minority, but they too would love their lyrical input to be given its due respect. So please people, learn the difference between genuine praise and a backhanded compliment. Otherwise you might receive a complimentary backhand from your favourite MC.

Klarity Anthem Decoded

Posted: April 5, 2011 in Hip-Hop

Good day to you all! Hope that all of you thoroughly enjoyed being made fools of in various ways on April 1st. Nobody tried anything on me. I almost feel hurt…

Anyway, swiftly moving along. I have been informed in no uncertain terms that I must make a regular habit of deciphering my lyrics and elaborating on my thought process as I put pen to pad (oba finger to keyboard). Seeing as Klarity Anthem and Competition is Dead are my two recent and popular appearances on radio, they are the immediate candidates for dissection. I often enjoy following chronological order and so Klarity Anthem is up first. The verse is as follows…

First off, fu** you, pay me. Metaphors/
Coming, I should charge like bulls do matadors/
Smack a whore too, if she ain’t bringing me my money/
Get a whore’s (horse) head in your bed. Ha! It ain’t funny/
Leave you all dead. What I said?  We ain’t good guys/
We’re the Goodfellas, Klarity, choking you with hood ties/
Goodbye! If you hear us calling you out/
We’re the Mafia, the ones Bukenya warned you about/
No one’s flowing like I, I got all the nice lines/
Fun with more than tight rhymes, we can always find time/
Running organised crime, on the phone. I’m Corleone/
So my consigliere,  can see y’all buried/
You leave the bar broke, boom! I leave your car smoked/
All you see is a smile and a puff of cigar smoke/
I’m the boss of mobsters, we worse than monsters/
Klarity, K’la City’s Cosa Nostra!

Klarity Anthem is about The Mith, Lyrikal Proof and Enygma joining forces to set up a record label called Klarity Records. We want to revitalise the way rappers in Uganda go about being MCs from writing to recording to shooting videos to promoting and marketing. So we took the angle of this being a new dawn and we are like a Mafia of sorts coming in to take over the game.

This verse was all about being in the mindset of a Mafioso. I wanted to paint the character of a gangster who’s life is all about profiting from the criminal underworld. We’ve all seen movies like Casino, Godfather, Goodfellas, etc.. I drew on such movies and books for inspiration. I had to, since in real life I don’t actually work for the Mafia.

Now, to examine the lines a little more closely…

First off, fu** you, pay me. Metaphors/
This is based on a famous line from Goodfellas. The narrator explains the merciless nature in which a gangster demands his debts. “…Now the guy’s gotta come up with Paulie’s money every week, no matter what. Business bad? Fu** you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fu** you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? Fu** you, pay me!”

In a similar vein, I start off the verse by showing the listener that with my gangster mentality, all I care about is getting paid by all means necessary and I don’t care about you or whatever problems you have. Also to have a swear word thrown in at the very start of the verse, startles the listener to attention. It establishes from the very beginning that you are dealing with a thug, a corrupt individual.

Coming, I should charge like bulls do matadors/
Most of you are aware that Matadors are Spanish bull fighters. Bullfighting is a sport/performance art where the Matador taunts the bull to charge at him as he attacks it with a sword or long dagger with the aim of killing it. While avoiding death himself. So I apply simple wordplay here of charging money to hear my murderous metaphors like a bull charges when attempting to kill a bullfighter.

Youre doing it wrong.

Smack a whore too, if she ain’t bringing me my money/
Along with gunrunning, gambling and drug trade, Mafiosi are also well known for controlling prostitution. Many have heard of a “Pimp Hand,” which describes the way a pimp will smack a hooker if she misbehaves. Especially if she does not earn enough money for him. This line is important to me for 4 reasons. 1) I liked the rhyme pattern of metaphors/matador/smack a whore. 2) A reminder that like the music industry, the life as a Mafioso is not as glamorous as it is often portrayed. 3) As a sly punchline which so far no one seems to have noticed. This sentence reconnects with the first line where I say “Fu** you, pay me.”  4) Also this is a set up for another punchline I was about to deliver in the next bar.

Get a whore’s (horse) head in your bed. Ha! It ain’t funny/
Probably the most famous scene in the Godfather involves a horse’s head. In the story, The Godfather (Don Corleone) had godson who was a famous singer/actor and needed the Don’s help in landing an important movie role. The Godfather sends his consigliere (advisor and third in command) to persuade the head of the studio. The studio head declares that he will never give the godson the role because he had previously slept with a young starlet and ruined her career. The starlet also happened to be the studio bosses side dish, so his nugu was genuine. However, the next morning, the studio boss wakes up and feels something wet in his bed. He pulls at the sheets to discover a pool of blood in the bed and the severed head of his prized asset, a $600,000 horse. The studio boss was a wealthy man, but if people can defeat his security to butcher his horse and place the head in his bed while he slept, then the next time it may be his head that is removed. He immediately agreed to give the movie role to Don Corleone’s godson.

Drink responsibly. You never know who you might wake up with.

I reference this story in this line for two reasons. First is the absolute menace of the act. It is delightfully diabolical and just the type of evil I wanted to depict my character as being capable of committing. Secondly, is the punchline continued from the previous line relating to the prostitute who isn’t bringing in enough cash. I’m talking to a potential customer who can bring in revenue by getting head from this hooker in bed. And whore’s head sounds like horse head, which is a symbol of the lengths I go to get what I want. That’s why, much as one may be tempted to laugh at the punchline, it isn’t a funny situation to be in. Once again, one can apply the mantra “Fu** you, pay me.”

Leave you all dead. What I said?  We ain’t good guys/
We’re the Goodfellas, Klarity, choking you with hood ties/
Here I am re-affirming my nefarious ways. Reminding you that from all I’ve said in the verse, you can tell you’re not dealing with good guys, but Goodfellas, like the movie. There’s also another double entendre here where I say “choking you with hood ties.” This has two meanings in that my hood connections will squeeze you out, make you suffocate, by either spoiling your business or if necessary having these affiliates actually kill you. The other meaning is actually choking you to death with a neck tie.

I have good noose and bad news.

Goodbye! If you hear us calling you out/
If we have decided to confront you, it’s curtains. You cannot survive.

We’re the Mafia, the ones Bukenya warned you about/
There was a time when our Vice President Bukenya was in the tabloids every single day for the wrong reasons. It was clear there was a targetted smear campaign against him to destroy his credibility and standing in his political party and in front of the electorate. He often defended himself by saying that stories about him in the tabloids were all untrue and that this scandals were engineered by the Mafia who secretly control Ugandan and are determined to finish his career.

No one’s flowing like I, I got all the nice lines/
Fun with more than tight rhymes, we can always find time/
Running organised crime, on the phone. I’m Corleone/
These bars exhibit what we in the industry refer to as a multi-syllable rhyme scheme. Any primary kid can rhyme fat, bat, cat. Eat, beat, seat. Rhyming on syllable is a piece of cake. But taking on 2, or 3 or 4 syllables at a time is a little more challenging. Someone who only reads the lyrics may not be convinced, but when it’s heard, the pattern is apparent. I also use this opportunity to paint a picture of being a boss like Corleone and does not need to get his hands dirty, he can conduct all his evil deeds over the phone.

So my consigliere,  can see y’all buried/
Earlier I mentioned that a consigliere is an advisor to the Godfather and normally third in command in the hierarchy. So I am showing my level of power and superiority that I can have such a high ranking officer doing my dirty work. I also liked the 5 syllable rhyme pattern of consigliere/can see y’all buried.

You leave the bar broke, boom! I leave your car smoked/
All you see is a smile and a puff of cigar smoke/
I was just having fun here painting a vivid picture of how I will have my enemy disposed of. The unsuspecting target is stumbling out of a bar after drinking till he emptied his wallet. He gets to his car and turns the key in the ignition and like in all good gangster movies, that action must be followed by a dramatic explosion!

I’m the boss of mobsters, we worse than monsters/
Klarity, K’la City’s Cosa Nostra!
The Cosa Nostra is the other name for The Mafia.

And there you have it. Those were the odd thoughts that zigzagged through my brain as I wrote my verse for Klarity Anthem. Hope you enjoyed it, let me know what you think in the comments section below. In the meantime, you can listen to the track via YouTube here…

Urban Legend

Posted: March 18, 2011 in Hip-Hop

Today it’s raining and I’m feeling too lazy to write. So I’ll get one of  Uganda’s most earnest, playful and celebrated writers to do the job for me. This is the interview I did with Ernest Bazanye on Uganda’s wittiest website, Urban Legend Kampala ( )…

Enygma is fast-growing in reputation to be one of Kampala’s favourite rappers, even though we don’t really know what he looks like. The man always performs with a mask on. We got suspicious and went to investigate.

Q: Who are you?

A: I am a symbiotic cyborg sent from the alpha centauri galaxy in a parallel dimensia dimension. I am known as Enygma because my true identity is not known. Even my identity card doesn’t know me.

Q: Is that the same planet as Straka? was she your neighbour? Do you guys meet and bond? Wait. ARE YOU STRAKA?

A: My identity is irrelevant. Music is aural pleasure and not optical. Unless some people possess the ability to view soundwaves with the naked eye. Therefore, what I look like or who I am do not add or take away from what someone hears on the track. If my face really did matter, I would have zero fans. But I have a lot more than zero fans almost all of whom have absolutely no idea what I look like.

Q: Why do you be there rapping?

A: I realised that I wanted to rap was when 2pac died. Such a fuss was kicked up that I decided to hear some of his CDs. I was blown away. This was not Vanilla Ice or MC Hammer or Will Smith or Kris Kross. This was real, gritty, thug poetry. From then on I knew I wanted to rap. I actually penned my first verse in 2001, then in the same year I quit to focus on books and only started writing again in 2009 after coaxing from friends.

Q: Do you get tired of people hearing that you can rap and then telling you, “Eh, you can rap, eh? First rap a bit and we see.”?

A: It actually depends on who’s doing the telling and the mood I’m in. Sometimes I like nothing better than to randomly break out into song, just like a a Broadway musical! Other times I feel like the court jester being pestered to sing for his supper…

Wait are you asking me to rap now? Okay.

Enygma on ULK and I’m hot like incinerators/

I give frees all day just like refrigerators/

That’s ironic, I know, I’m so Enygmatic/

I spit bars like an uzi, semi-automatic/

You ought to panic, if you see me with Urban Legends/

I’m so fly, I’m the guy who drops turds on pigeons/

Turn ignitions, you can’t keep up with a Nascar/

I’m too cunning like the penguins off of Madagascar…

Q: You know we are not going to pay you for those rhymes/

Cos it’s a free style. Plus we have no dimes.

Yeah. I would have been an MC, too, except for the small matter of my being unable to do more than two lines at a time.

A: Mighty oaks, from one acorn, grow. Take care of your pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves. Little by little makes a bundle. Make a mountain out of a molehill.

What I’m trying to say with all those curiously applied proverbs, is that if you can come up with two bars, you can do 4, which means you can do 8 and if you make 8 then you can achieve a 16. I have faith in you. But I must warn you, once you join our field you become part of the competition and you know what happens to the competition don’t you?

Q: Heh heh. I sense we are going to segue into an introduction of that latest song you and your peers have been up to. So let me segue.

Enygma, since we don’t know who you are without a mask, I have no qualms guessing that you are a mortician or an undertaker or an assassin, because you recently declared that competition had passed on to the other side. Tell us more about the death of competition.

A: You are getting very close to uncovering my true identity. I’m wanted in several states for the audacious crimes of killing a beat, lyrical manslaughter and placing my competition in bodybags. So much so that my cohorts and I assembled to make a track about this called Competition is Dead. The track is especially deep because it was not only a retelling of the past, but the track itself also served as a foreboding of the future…

Q: I want to see this track. First introduce it kko like a radio dj and introduce the cohorts and please give Susan Nava mob props especially cos she’s fine.

A: The track was produced by Sam Lamara and includes a stellar hip-hop cast. Lyrikal Proof, Topik, The Mith, JB, Mun*G, BigTril, Saint C.A., Susan Nava, Mon MC, 2-Xtrim, Atlas, Pl@y, Don MC, Qrea-us, Enygma, Keko, GNL & Navio. A variety of languages were used, English, Swahili, Luganda, Runyankole and Japhadola! With such a devastating line up, it is not only the competition, but also the listeners who be dead!

Q: One last question. By which I mean two more questions. It sounds like a who’s who, the cast of this song. But if all the rappers are here, who is the competition? Is it Rocky Giant?

A: There are many good artists making great hip-hop music who are not on this track. Young Nick, JT, Lyrical G, etc.. So much as this is a line-up with big names, it would be wrong to say that these are the only good MCs in UG. But the track is already 15 minutes long. If every relevant MC was put in, perhaps the track could have been a hour long. So the question of who the competition is, is not answered by indicting every MC not on the song. I prefer to let the listeners interpret for themselves who the competition is.

Q: Well me I have decided it’s that guy IK from Big Brother. Mr Enygma, thank you for joining is this evening. We’ll just close by giving our readers where they can get a shitload of your music on reverbnation, they can also keep up with wasgono with you on your own blog, they can download C. I. D. here and we will close with Hustlers Anthem.

A: :-) Nice… , Enygma’s Youtube , and the blog is

And now, introducing the man who defeated not only competition, but Contraception and was born with his father wearing a condom and his mother on the pill, featuring Keko, The Mith and Navio, this is Enygma and Hustler’s Night. Runtings!

The Mask

Posted: March 15, 2011 in Hip-Hop

One of the most common questions I’m always asked, is why I cover my face. Some have speculated that I must be extremely hideous or perhaps in possession of a frightful  scar like Carlos Tevez. I just tell them that I’m the most gorgeous man ever made because my mother taught me that honesty is the best policy.

Instead of backing off for fear that their eyeballs may melt from exposure to pure hunkiness, I am instead still pestered to remove the mask and present myself. Well, that’s not going to happen. My reasons for this are simple and few and perhaps I can touch on them a little bit now…

One of my many disguises

Ironically for someone involved in the entertainment industry, I have no desire to be famous. Some of my fans have shared with me their dreams of appearing on magazine covers, billboards, talkshows and poorly Photoshopped nude pics. They’ve dreamt of wordlwide fame and recognition since they were young enough to excite Gary Glitter (just Google it). They want the flash photography, the autograph signing, the celebrity coupling, the yes men, the haters, the groupies, the stalkers, the endorsements, the bling, the rehab clinics, the critical acclaim, notoriety, everything. But to me none of it as appealing. Sure, it feels good to have people appreciating my work, but they don’t need to see my face to that. That’s what my inbox is for. I enjoy being an unknown face in the crowd and very importantly, it allows me to keep my work/family life completely separate from my hiphop life. Besides, it also has its unique perverse pleasures. Like when I get fanmail from people that used to sit next to me in class. There’s one in particular who will probably commit suicide if he ever discovered the identity of the guy he’s been praising so effusively…

The other major reason is something I’ve discussed before in this blog. The role of image in marketing a musician. I HATE IT. I understand that many people are more likely to buy a CD if the artist is good looking. I understand that people are more likely to believe that someone is gangster if he survived a few gunshot wounds or went to jail. I understand that many people like to identify with success and if they see an artist with a flashy lifestyle, he becomes their idol and therefore record sales increase. I am aware that this phenomenon exists in the world and I absolutely abhor it. I believe it to be a very high form of stupidity to buy music because the artist wears fashionable clothes or drives a Bentley. I’ve argued this point with people who disagree with me, but to me music is received through the ears and my ears alone decide who has good music and who doesn’t. A lot of my favourite artists are people who’s faces I barely know. Dr. Dre had no idea that Eminem was a white dude when he was trying to sign him up. Many people tried to convince Dre not to risk his career on a Vanilla Ice gamble, but Dre believed in the talent he heard on radio and his faith was repaid overwhelmingly.
If your work is good it will speak for itself. If it isn’t, then no amount of marketing gurus can convince me to buy your shit. Susan Boyle is very unbeautiful but she proved to the world that you don’t need to look like Beyonce to catch people’s attention in the music world. Yet still, the talentless Lady Gaga will sell more albums, generate more YouTube hits and have more ‘likes’ on Facebook just because of image and marketing alone. It makes me sick. I refuse to participate in this charade and therefore opted to not have an image at all. In fact my original plan was to have no photographs and do no interviews. To be completely unseen. But that proved completely impossible to maintain and so I had to pull out the hoodie/bandana thing. Some say that the whole no image thing is an image in itself. Perhaps they’re right. But it’s a better option to putting myself forward and having people’s eyeballs melting 🙂

Alright, I’m back! I initially wanted this blog to be at most a  once weekly affair, however, death threats have since persuaded me to contribute a little more, so here we are. Thank you for appreciating my writing so far, surprisingly a large number of people seem to agree with my eccentric views. There were one or two who felt I was harsh on the Mexican hunger striker, but I wasn’t harsh enough. In fact, if I was stationed at the embassy where she was camped, I would have made the fullest use of my diplomatic immunity to smack some sense into her. Emphasis on smack…

Anyway, moving on. In this edition I want to talk about lyrics. I’m an MC and as such lyrics matter to me a lot and had always wanted to make use of my blog to touch on this often misunderstood subject. I’ve been reading Jay-Z’s brilliant book entitled ‘Decoded’. It’s somewhat of an autobiography of his life tied into his lyrics. In each chapter he selects a few songs relevant to that phase of his life and then proceeds to explain some of the lyrics. This inspired me no end. Any MC you can think of will have gone through the process of explaining one of their songs line by line to a listener who is not as cultured in the art of hearing hip-hop.

Don't fear the Illuminati cover image. The book's a nice read.

So, I figured, if it’s good enough for Jay-Z, it’s good enough for Enygma! I’ll pick apart one of my recent and very short verses so that people can realise we actually do put in some thought to our words and try to communicate a little more in our lyrics than what is immediately apparent upon first listening.

Conglomerate Black & Yellow K-Mix (Enygma Verse)
I got a black Visa. And some yellow notes./
I always come correct but this isn’t pillow talk./
I’m providing food for thought but y’all are on a diet,/
Operating on a different plane you couldn’t even fly it./
I beat you black and blue, plus the pus, black and yellow/
And your blood makes it so UG, red, black and yellow./
Representing Hip-Hop when you see me you know everything,/
Only studio you doing good in is Megapix.

Okay, that was the verse. Now to dissect the lyrics and shed a little more light one what I said…

I got a black Visa. And some yellow notes.

Seeing as the theme of this song was black and yellow. I wanted to incorporate that into my verse in ways different from the obvious, for instance talking about bumblebees. So I decided to separate the two colours to bring out two items that were different but still significantly connected. One of the major themes in rap music revolves around competition. Competitiveness can be based on who’s better on the mic, courting ladies, making money or anything else. Generally the rapper will seek to show you how great he is by establishing that he is successful. I generally hate bragging about money in lyrics, but I feel if it is relevant to the track or can be done in an interesting way, then it’s okay. The Black Visa is among the world’s most exclusive premium credit cards. One has to be of significant financial standing to acquire one. Also locally, in Uganda, you can get a black Visa debit card at Barclays if you are a Premier customer. In Uganda, the yellow bank note represents 50,000/= which is the highest denomination we have. So these are two separate items, black and yellow, but they both revolve around money and infer that the narrator is a person of financial clout.

I always come correct but this isn’t pillow talk.
This is Enygma being naughty 🙂 In urban slang, to come correct is (1) to do something properly, the right way. It can also refer to (2) someone being respectful and/or having good manners. Now we also know that to come/cum has sexual connotations. So in one way, I’m implying sexual prowess, but then I take it back to the original meaning by saying this isn’t pillow talk (the post coital conversation lovers have in bed). The pillow talk is important because I want someone to think about the sexual part which they will miss if I didn’t mention it. Which is beautifully ironic since in Africa it is taboo and bad manners to talk about sexual issues, thus tying in with the second definition of “to come correct”.

I’m providing food for thought but y’all are on a diet,
To provide food for thought means to supply intellectual nourishment. Saying something that causes mental stimulus. This is my lament that much as I try to provide this with my lyrics, too many people are on a diet and not eating the food I’m serving. Plainly speaking, my lyrics often go over their heads because very few understand my wordplay.

Operating on a different plane you couldn’t even fly it.
To operate on a different plane means that I’m on a completely different level. I try to bring in the metaphor of an airplane and me as an engineer “operating” on this plane but the person I’m talking to is incapable of even flying it, which is easier to do. This is the disparity between us, how much on a different level I am from the person I’m referring to.

I beat you black and blue, plus the pus, black and yellow
To give someone a savage beating is to beat them black and blue. When the beating is so brutal, one can even end up seeping pus from the skin, which is always yellow. Thus I have gone back to the theme of black and yellow. Of course I am not discussing a literal beating, but a lyrical beating.

And your blood makes it so UG, red, black and yellow.
When a song like Black & Yellow is going to be redone by 6 Ugandan rappers, there was always a chance that one or two of them at least would get the idea of comparing it to our Ugandan flag which repeats the pattern of black, yellow and red. So if I were to include it, I needed to apply it in a way that I was sure would be different from anyone else (sure enough, Lyrikal Proof and Nava both mention it in their respective verses). Sticking to the idea of the savage beating from the previous line (black and blue/yellow pus), I now include the ingredient of blood. Aside from the graphic mental image that is given to the listener, it allows me to combine black, yellow and red which represents our Ugandan flag. A small footnote to this line, I deliberately used the term “So UG” as a nod to The Mith. He, along with Lyrikal Proof and I, all belong to Klarity records and since he was the only one not on this song, I decided to include him in this small way.

Representing Hip-Hop when you see me you know everything,
Black and Yellow was originally done by Wiz Khalifa. In the chorus he says “Rep up in my town when you see me you know everything.” Wiz is not renowned for being a lyricist, but I really appreciated this line. Deceptively simple yet effective in painting a picture that when you merely glance upon him once, you know everything there is to know about his hometown. He’s basically wearing his town on him from the way he walks, talks, dresses, etc.. I chose to re-apply this line but make an even bolder statement; that I am the truest representation of hip-hop! Some people will say that is debatable. I’ll say they can lay their own claims in their own songs…

Only studio you doing good in is Megapix.
People often ask me why I wear a mask. There are three reasons I always give. 2 of them are unimportant right now, but one of them is the fact that I hate the way an artists image is seen as a critical factor to his/her success. I don’t care how many times you’ve been shot, whether you’ve been to jail, whether you drive a Bugatti Veyron, whether you have expensive clothes and jewellery, whether you are the hottest hunk/babe etc.. None of these factors mean that your music will be better! I was once interviewed on UBC by the lovely Lauryn and the Calvin (he’s a cool dude but I’m not going to call him lovely), and I was asked what I thought about the Bebe Cools and Bobi Wines buying expensive cars and who was winning the battle over nice cars. I answered in two words – “Who cares?” The cars will not climb up on stage and sing for you. Music is a medium that we enjoy through our ears. Your image will not make me enjoy your music more, or less. One of the greatest rap songs of all time is Luoe Fiasco’s ‘Hurt Me Soul’. If that song was done by the Grandmaster of the Klu Klux Klan, I would say “God I love that song! The guy who made it is a racist piece of shit, but damn the song is so dope.” So that’s where I stand on image promotion in the music industry. This line basically touches on that. As recording artists, we spend a lot of time in the studio making tracks. But I am denigrating my opponent by saying he doesn’t create anything useful in the recording studio, rather, he is more focussed on marketing his image by spending time in photo studios instead. As opposed to me, who as stated in the previous line, is the embodiment of what hip-hop is all about 🙂

Apologies to all. This was more long-winded than I had intended. I’m also rushing out of office to attend Friday Night Lights basketball at the YMCA so I’m not going to do any spelling/grammatical checks for now. I shal jsut turst taht evreythnig is fine…

Oh and by the way, here’s a link to the song…