Meet Brian Simba an underground rap scene in Tanzania with burgeoning group Dar

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021 00:00 |
Brian Simba.

A leader of the underground rap scene in Tanzania with burgeoning group Bar Es Salaam, Brian Simba recently dropped an EP, Uncle Guni. He had a candid chat about his journey with Jackson Onyango.

What is it like growing in Dar? 

I grew up in Dar and for a major chunk of my life, I have been a coastal boy. My family, however, is originally from Tanga, a city just five hours away from Dar.

Growing up in Tanzania, like most other countries is a mixture of really good and really upsetting times, but I love it here.

Dar in particular is a city like no other; it has a unique energy and represents opportunity and the hustle spirit. You really need wits to make it. 

What’s a typical day like in your world?

Honestly, I have no typical days. There is always something out of the ordinary going on. I like to think I’m blessed like that.

The other day I woke up, shot a video, did an interview and knocked off three new songs before 4pm, and I had no idea I’d have to do any of this the previous day. I like to think I quickly get bored so routine isn’t an option. I thrive on spontaneity.

Anyone interested in Tanzania’s music scene can’t fail to identify Brian Simba. Why?

I’d like to think I dare. I dared to make music in English, which wasn’t a very popular language as far as mainstream performance art is concerned. I dared to pick beats that aren’t mainstream either.

To my listeners, it’s very refreshing hearing stories about the city from a different paradigm.

My approach to penetrating the industry was different as well. Until my first mixtape, Masaki Theory, I was mostly an internet artist posting music on Soundcloud.  

You are in Bar Es Salaam; walk us through that time and your intent?

Bar Es Salaam must have been the most organic moment in my music career. It was the brainchild of Mike Tareto and Avid.

They would invite a bunch of us to their home studio to drop bars on beats we got off the Internet.

They called it the orphanage, where random bars find a home. After a couple weeks of recording music, we just put it on Soundcloud and the response was amazing, so we just made more and more.

It’s kind of difficult to replicate that feeling because now the efforts are more deliberate, and the process is more refined. We opt to take time, and with that expect more BSM music soon.

Now you’re signed to Mdee Music founded by superstar Vanessa Mdee. How is that going?

The deal was a product of putting my music out there really. Like her, I have something very unique to offer to the culture.

Game recognises game. Honestly, I had trouble adjusting to this new space because of the ‘Do It Yourself’ manner of things in the space I was previously in.

Suddenly I had to worry much more about quality control, promo strategies, and branding, plus the fact that I am at University.

I still learnt fast and I took the challenge and I think I’m adjusting very well. 

The song with Steph Kapela is a solid hip-hop track. Is this the new direction you are taking? 

Ha-ha. Steph and I’s collabo was long overdue. We are both fans of each other. I think Kenya and Tanzania have a long love-hate relationship as far as art is concerned.

I love what you guys do there. And I understand the appreciation is reciprocated. Steph and I met at a show in Kenya in 2019 and clicked immediately.

How did you really become a rapper?

My love for music comes from the family. My father is a choir instructor, and growing up we would listen to classical and Portuguese music for hours talking about what we like.

As far as rap is concerned, I’m more a fan of words and dialogue than rap music itself. I love words. From music, movies, or books, it comes easily to me.

Do you have any other interests?

I have actually started dabbling in film making.

Who would you love to work with currently?

I am a big fan of Blinky Bill and Wakadinali from Kenya. Internationally, Kaytranada; his production is out of this world.

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