A few days back, hip hop star Ernest Nsimbi aka GNL Zamba announced that once Entebbe airport is opened, he will return to Uganda. He also wants to return to hip hop music and shake it up. Below is our conversation
FabMc: Hip hop is the style that defines you, why had you changed the genre
Zamba: Artistry is like having a toolbox lucky for me I have many tools and not just a hammer! I can do poetry, rap fast, rap slow or even do a live international fusion (Nsimbi). I can be braggadocios, philosophical or introspective.Those styles are all me. When you listen to the Nsimbi album I’m rapping to indigenous instruments on an international stage.
It is a conscious choice to represent the music from Uganda in its authentic form. My partner was being authentic in her element and we both channeled the energy of authenticity to make a masterpiece! That (Nsimbi album) gave us an opportunity to tour the world! Hip-hop is a return, coming back full circle grateful to the woman that gave me everything! (Hip-hop) I had to do a song dedicated to her.
FabMc: Are you back to settle in Uganda or flying back after COVID?
Zamba: Yes, I’m coming back to Uganda but as we speak I’m out of the country to take care of some business. I’m planning to come back and resume projects after EBB airport reopens! I now have a home in Kampala and the other in California. My vision has always been to create platforms that open doors and bridge the gap between Uganda and the mecca of entertainment, so I will still stay in Uganda while I run my West Hollywood office remotely.
I’m currently in the process of signing new talents to my Record label here in Kampala so I will be home for the bigger part of the-year only traveling for shows and duties that may demand my presence. The ruler is back!
FabMc: What does the future own for Tamar (your wife) in music, she didn’t feature in Dear Hip-hop?
Zamba: hahaha, She is a brilliant woman she shot the Dear Hip-hop video that we are premiering this weekend! The Dear Hiphop video also comes with a brilliant plan of empowerment behind it and I can’t wait to unveil it.
I know we are going to see positive results in rethinking our creativity as a genre of Hiphop! one thing I can promise is that by the end of this year even with all the craziness hip hop will take its rightful place as the most profitable music genre in Uganda as it is in the rest of the world. I think I can unlock that potential with the talents I see and what I know.
FabMc: Will it continue with just you alone or looking at getting new members
Zamba: Nas and khaled told me that I should start a label, run it, sign myself and that’s the major key! well I did start Baboon Forest and even better I’m looking for talented young trees to add to the forest ekibira kigumire! The slogan of my collective is “Ensi Yaffe” which means the world is ours, In typical Hiphop tradition I don’t want to reach the promised land alone. I want to show hip hop creatives that this world belongs to them, that we can all achieve greatness with no limits and have everlasting impact on our society through bold moves.
FabMc: What do you think about Big Tril and MunG?
Zamba: Those are my brothers. The amazing talents that keep shining and creating unforgettable moments in entertainment. Whether it is Parte after parte or Igwe it is hard to find original talents like that in UG. I just talked to Tril for about 2 hours he is in Nigeria on lockdown busy and doing great. MunG #GNLZamba is still giving y’all hits kusupeeeed!
FabMc: Does Covid have anything against you or it has no effect on GNL
Zamba: Well if it wasn’t for covid I would be in Israel now doing a few Nsimbi gigs or chilling on a beach in Tel Aviv as planned but those plans were canceled, we had to postpone another show we were looking forward to in Detroit and also I’m constantly worried about family in Uganda and in the US.
This is a global problem even if it doesn’t affect one directly it does indirectly. I’m looking forward to a concert stage after this whenever it will be safe to open to public spaces. I hope all my fans are staying safe and protected.
FabMc: Your new project got some people referring to it as the GNL they know, do you agree that the style of music you were doing wasn’t suiting you?
Zamba: hahaha utter Nonsense. That is Ugandan Kajanja where some people want to keep their artists in reach doing the same style of music for decades. No growth. Do they know how many fans Nsimbi has in Uganda? Do you know how many we have worldwide? Jjaja used to tell me “muzukulu This world doesn’t end at Busia. “Now I’m reaching more people globally.
I now have 3 international awards (I had none before this just 50 local awards) Now I’ve done two North American tours while the “GNL they know” would only be performing for the East Africans alone.
This reminds me of when some people criticized Andre 3000 of outcast for singing Hey ya which is now his most successful song ever! Some people do not like change, they will resist it even if it is good for them. The music I do carries the message that could save our crumbling societies right now. Love & cross-cultural unity that has the power to destroy racism, something based on our humanity is Nsimbi’s message while Dear Hiphop is merely an addition to an already rich music catalogue and discography!
FabMc: Whats the future of Hiphop in Uganda?
Zamba: The future of Uganda is Hiphop. You can tell them Greatness said it here first. This very young Ugandan population has so much power and potential to change the course of the state in all aspects. The more MCs the merrier. I believe in working together and uplifting each other, there is so much we can do I hope we can do away with the individualism and selfishness.
Hip hop in its purest form is a spiritual thing, it is an uplifting truth through which our society can self actualize. The opportunities are immense, no one has to reinvent the wheel.We already speak the language that the youth understand! Lugaflow! Hiphop is back.