It is 10:30pm on August 19, 2022 and multitudes are assembled at Chamako Prolific, a lounge in Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital city. The billiard room next door is empty as its occupants have all moved into the main lounge. Everyone scrambles to get a good space. Those who can’t get seats manage to squeeze into the corners just in time for the show.
Following an introduction from the MC for the night, (Barrister) Sean, a firm voice goes… “Any man fit make call, Perika call noh!” The crowd is in ecstasy and screams of joy nearly eclipse the singing voice. It is Tata Lunga Sheynkip presenting his latest body of work, an EP titled Trap Tap Flow.
Tata has always been a hard rapper, starting small and working his way up the top. For a country where rap is yet to be accorded as much attention as it would want to, Tata is regarded as one of the new generation artists flying high the flag. Over the years, his works have witnessed a remarkable progression, a feat he proudly gives credits to New Bell music label for.
As a rapper, Tata has always been hard in his flows and rhythm as he delivers mostly in his mother tongue, Limbum (language of the Mbum people). In his August 19 Trap Tap Flow EP listening party however, he again brought a new element to the table. While he had made a name for himself as a Limbum rap god, Tata was still not done.
His 5-track EP had songs performed exclusively in Pidgin English, known to be a language of the streets. The likes of Jovi, Mic Monsta, Tilla, Pascal, Skidi Boy have gained street cred in part thanks to use of the language in their raps. Tata followed suite.
Beyond the language factor, Tata addressed key themes in a way only hardcore rap knows how – aggression and confrontation. Violence, underdevelopment, promiscuity, love and self-emancipation are a few of the many themes he evoked. But even at the EP listening party that night, Tata tell the music speak for itself, opting not to discuss his intentions and the inspiration for the body of work. The tracks included ‘Call’, ‘Move me’, ‘Knife’, ‘How manage’ and ‘FWYH’ – all produced by Mettod.
To Shey Eugene, music promoter and content creator, the EP is a perfect example of an artist walking the talk. “Now y’all see why I call him the real pidgin trap Chief”.
Glam Media echoes a similar view, describing the rapper as “hard, melodious and original.”
But of course, like most hardcore rap pieces and Tata songs in general, Trap Tap Flow is not all glamour. It is a representation of the multiple imperfections the rapper and his society have and continue to live, an expose on the realities, harsh and straightforward. The graphic imagery painted by some of the singer’s lines leave the listener’s hairs on end.
- ‘If I move your one eye I no get nothing for loss, Like you call nye men them for me you go daso loss’ [call]
- ‘Teacher dey for class d teach na with knife for yi skin, student dey for class d learn na with knife for yi skin’ [Knife]
Again, there is a silver lining. American writer, college professor and guitarist, Russell Potter in his 1995 publication, Spectacular Vernaculars: Hip-hop and the politics of post modernism, is quoted with the view that while hardcore rap has been associated with a “monolithic ‘gangsta’ outlook by the popular press, hardcore rappers have laid claim to a wide variety of ground”.
To him, radical postmodernism calls attention to those shared sensibilities with the potential of promoting the “recognition of common commitments and serve as a base for solidarity.
Arguably so, history has proven the need to pull the chord in most instances to get authorities respond favourably to the concerns of the masses. One of these thematic areas of primary concern, remains rising violence in school and on the streets. In Cameroon, stories of students stabbing each other or staff are more common than ever.
Hardcore rap won’t give the gory incidents a pat on the back. It looks them in the eye and yell what it sees. It doesn’t shy away from profanities or seemingly uncouth utterances. Isn’t that why it is hardcore rap?
And without waiting for the question of belling the cat to be asked, Tata who prides himself as Mukulah or Son of the Soil stepped up to the challenge.
Stream Trap Tap Flow here