America’s annual ‘gathering of giants’ pays tribute to Tanzanian hip hop
Gsan in action at the BET cypher
Rapper Gsan of the group X Plastaz from Arusha, Tanzania, is representing Africa in this year’s edition of the BET Hip Hop Awards, broadcast on October 27 on BET (Black Entertainment Television) in the USA. Meanwhile, X Plastaz’ dj/producer Threesixty is heard all around the world through his production for major hip hop artist Redman (Def Jam).
The annual BET Hip Hop Awards are watched by millions of hip hop fans across the United States. Especially the part of the show in which Gsan participates, titled the BET Hip Hop Awards cypher, is highly anticipated as it’s a true gathering of giants in rap music. The cypher, in which the artists go back to the raw essence of hip hop, sees legendary dj/producer Premier team up with emcees such as Mos Def, Black Thought, Eminem and Joe Budden. The section in which BET pays tribute to the growing popularity of hip hop from East Africa by including Gsan has the Arusha-born rapper performing alongside veteran rapper KRS One along with newcomers Wale and Nipsey Hussle.
The inclusion of X Plastaz in this year’s BET Hip Hop Awards came about when BET contacted X Plastaz, after seeing their music video ‘Nini dhambi kwa mwenye dhiki’ on the Youtube website. ‘Nini dhambi’ which has drawn over 400.000 views is one of the most popular East African music videos on the web. Gsan flew out to Brooklyn, New York where the cypher was pre-recorded in an empty factory building. His contribution was a rap in Swahili over an old school loop, cut up by dj Premier. While Swahili language hip hop was something new for the other artists, KRS One and Premier were full of love for the African input into this year’s cypher.
After recording the cypher, Gsan attended the Awards ceremony which took place in Atlanta on October 10, and which will finally be broadcast next tuesday, October 27.
Gsan posing with dj Premier and rapper KRS One
Says Gsan in an interview with Emcee Africa presenter Lee Kasumba: "Well, the Cypher segment was recorded in New York before the actual award ceremony. For me, it was just amazing to be there with people like Eminem, KRS One, DJ Premier playing the beats, and being able to showcase what I had. Many people were blown away with what I did and asked me why I rhymed in Swahili ‘cause they wanted to understand. I was just like ‘English is not my first language, I speak it, I love it but you will be able to mess me up if I rhyme in English’. There were emcees from all over the world in one setting, and I was happy to represent for Africa. I wasn’t starstruck, just glad to showcase what I did and could do with my American counterparts. I mean, think of it, we really have the same names, just one word changes, African American and African, do you understand what that means?"
Also this week, X Plastaz dj Threesixty (real name: Bamba Nazar) is being hailed as a breath of fresh air in hip hop as his production for Def Jam-artist Redman was distributed across the internet. The beat reminds of the energetic old school sound of the late 1970’s and is a sureshot dancefloor filler. The song, titled ‘Coc Back’, is the first single off Redman’s long awaited new album titled ‘Reggie Noble 9.5’ which will be released in December. The video for ‘Coc Back’ will be out this week.
Watch Gsan from X Plastaz in the BET Hip Hop Awards cypher on tuesday, October 27 at 8 pm (EDT) on BET. Outside of USA the cypher can be watched on Youtube from the day after the Awards show.
Official BET Hip Hop Awards website: http://www.bet.com/specials/hiphopawards09
X Plastaz website: http://www.xplastaz.com
Dj Threesixty website: http://www.bambanazar.com
Also see this clip in which dj Premier announced the participants of this year’s BET Hip Hop Awards cypher (mispronouncing Gsan as ‘Anson’):