The debuts editions of events in Uganda have always been challenging, barely scripted and always do their best to make time a victim.
It wasn’t so different at the inaugural Uganda Hip Hop Awards that took place at the Kampala Golf Course Hotel; the awards started almost three hours after the announced time and there were no apologies.
But when the show kicked off at 9pm, they tried to fit everything in about two hours – As you may know, the ideas of having awards in Uganda have definitely been inspired by the famous Grammy Awards.
From the very first time we had the PAM Awards, you could feel the guys were having the pressure to impress, even the guests did their best to rock the red carpet and like that, we had transported our little version of Hollywood to Kampala.
But this wasn’t the case at the inaugural Hip Hop Awards, the organizers were not trying to be anything or look up to something, they just looked out at organizing an award show that was going to celebrate a music genre they loved so much.
It wasn’t flashy affair with over lit red carpets or humongous stages where artistes could bring cars and all sorts of props, in fact, even unlike the BET Hip Hop Awards where it’s believed the idea was hatched, the Ugandan version avoided prerecorded cypher videos, even when every Kampala rapper is trying to record themselves battling others.
The show hosted by Anita ‘Fabiola’ Kyarimpa and Radio City’s Sabiti ‘McKenzie’ Brian wasn’t just an award show, but the start of a history that has for a long time been written by artistes and activists like Sirius Balabyekubo alias Babaluku, Ernest Nsimbi alias GNL Zamba, Daniel Kigozi alias Navio and the late Paul Mwandha alias P-Tek among others.
It was the first time that an award show had been organized with intentions of celebrating rap music in entirety – mostly based on votes through phone messages, the show was organized and divisive in equal measures.
Keko, who’s currently forging a musical comeback dominated the day after taking home three awards that included a Best Collaboration for the Female Cypher that featured Keko, Aggie and Ninja C, Best Mixtape for Love From Venus and Best Female Rapper.
Others were shared among the different rappers like The Mith taking home the hotly contested Best Lyricist beating rappers like Ruyonga and St. Nellysade; the win of course social media debating if he indeed deserved it, but more shockers were yet to set it.
Team No Sleep’s Fefe Busi was the biggest when he beat Gravity Omutujju, Mun*G and St. Nellysade and Victor Kamenyo to the Best Rapper Central, the room even went silent considering that only a few people even knew who he was.
St. Nellysade finally, after over forty nominations in various awards in the country picked up his first award for Album of the Year, thanks to his Stories of Elevation.
Other winners included Teba MC for Song of the Year, Side Zeno, Ruyonga, Best Inspirational Song, Ekitakumenya and Navio, Male Artist of the Year and Best Video Gbesile featuring Burna Boy among others.
As all hip hop shows, this too had its Kanye West moments especially the few minutes rant that saw Teba MC claim that he had the best mixtape and thus deserved the award Keko had won moments earlier.
All in all though, Uganda Hip Hop Awards had a humble opening; a few mistakes like letting the public choose winners even in complex categories like lyricist or producers somehow killed the vibe especially with a fact that they had no idea of what they were doing.