Gambian hip hop
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Hip hop in the Gambia started in the late 1990s after the Gambia opened its National Television, Gambia Radio & Television Services (GRTS) in 1995. It started with groups such as "Pencha B", "Dancehall Masters", "Masla B", "Da Fugitives", "Born Africans", "Black Nature", "Inspecta Chow Panachie" and many others. These groups were among the most popular and most successful in field at the time. They were also notable for mixing the hip-hop with reggae, mbalax, salsa, dancehall and other genres of music which made their songs distinctive. Even though most of these groups have been taken over by younger new artists, their work still reflects on the hip-hop industry in the Gambia today and groups such as Da Fugitives are still active in the industry. In August 1999 after releasing their first album, they were invited to the Pop Com Musical Festival in Germany. They subsequently won several music awards both nationally and internationally.
From beginning of the millennium to date, Gambia's hip-hop scene exploded with new rappers such as Freaky Joe; now better known as Singhateh and VYPA a hip hop artist. In the early stages, the hip hop scene mainly comprised male rappers based in the Gambia but now both female rappers and Gambian rappers settled abroad are getting into the scene. Nancy Nanz a.k.a. Gambian Beyonce, is one of the females who managed to make a breakthrough into the industry and is now well known in the Gambia. Among other upcoming young artists, Debbie Romeo, is trying to make her way to the top. Still working on a compilation of her own, she has recorded singles with G Baby, Nube and other Gambian artists in the industry. She also works closely with Gambian-American upcoming singers especially Ooz and Amie Dibba. Romeo recorded "Black Beauty" with PSG. This song got into the hip hop song of the year. Jabel the logical Killer he is young talented Gambian musician, producer, logo designer and DJ. He promoted Gambian music to the world on his showcase. Jabel got signed by Da Block Ent and Stoudio.VYPA is a charismatic rapper making a lot of buzz in the Gambian hip hop scene, he has a growing following which he gain through the released of mixtapes ("Voices of the Ghetto", "Hustlematic Scriptures" and "Death of Realism); a music video ("Rock your World" featuring Snow) and an album he is working on with Shy Boy Ent. He earned a place in a category at the Gambian Talent Awards in 2008.
One of the first recording studios in the Gambia called Yellowgate Studios, owned by Ellie Nachif, is where a lot of recording takes place. Among others, the latest, Block Entertainment Studio, was opened earlier this year[when?] by a member of one of the pioneer rap groups, Da Fugitives, called Mohammed Kah a.k.a. Mo-Hawk. Being the CEO of this studio, Mo Hawk ventures to inspire young hip hop artists like himself. Shy Boy Ent. is a studio that brought other talent to the forefront with artists such as Vypa, Cyco, Badibunka, Prince Makaye and others. It has released the most hits in rotation on both television and radio, Hanssinthe producer is the CEO of the studio.
Tha Basement is an exclusively local-music-oriented radio show that airs on West Coast Radio 1 (95.3 FM) every Saturday. Having spanned a period of four and a half years and running, Tha Basement is a radio show on local rap music.
The hip-hop scene in the Gambia requires a lot of work to help promote all the artists endeavouring to make it. Award ceremonies were held occasionally to promote Gambian singers in the beginning. The first was the Rap Award '99 ceremony held at Kairaba Beach Hotel on 31 July 1999, organized by a Gambian music promoter, Harona Drammeh, who was a staff member of GRTS at the time. Now there are various award ceremonies held to promote Gambian artists in the music industry. In 2007, Black Lynx and One Tribe Sound, the best known hip hop movements and promoters in the country, joined forces as the Afric Alliance, and came up with the open mic show, where rappers were invited to perform.
The media, especially the Gambia Radio and Television Services, does its best to support artists in the hip-hop scene. Apart from the normal broadcasts, Saturday nights are usually dedicated to showcasing the music scene of the Gambia and a show called Extra Touch was the first of its kind on GRTS to invite rappers to perform live in their studios. Websites have been set up to promote young Gambian artists. The hip hop/RnB section is especially quite dynamic, portraying the interest and energy put into hip hop by Gambians now.
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