March 1, 2009

X Plastaz (from Arusha) "Nini dhambi kwa mwenye dhiki" (What is a sin for the needy one...)

What's the offense of the poor?
All my people
East Africa
Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya
Dar es Salaam, A town
Wherever you are
Kneel and pray to God
Is this politics, religion, tyranny, slavery, judgement day, Sodom and Gomorrah?
Hold on strong, take a look around each corner
Left, right, front, back, make sure you look everywhere
And if you persist, just listen and be patient, so that you won’t regret later on

This goes out to my people
The cripple, blind, albinos and the insane
Street children, beggars, the poor and those who are mentally sane
This is a thick rope
You should know that we are pulling it against those in power
Fat bellies and cheeks
It’s no longer a fair game
The referee is biased
The field itself is dry
Work is hard to find, payment is little
What’s left is to play the hard way
We’re tired of the upper class, capitalism and dictatorship
This is the time
This is the redemption
And I order that those who are down must get that wine
I tighten the strap of your opponents
I pour poison over them
So that they will scratch themselves without shame
First of all, a salute to those who passed away before us
Second, let’s pray to God
Our father, please give us our daily bread
Fill us with strength
So that we can succeed in the game
When we pass away, the day of judgement
Give us the chance to regret
Because we know that we act evil
We eat forbidden fruits
We use every possible method
Juju or crime...
So that we can get food & clothing
But that shouldn’t be a reason for other people to be robbed of their rights
To prevent us from fulfilling our destiny
To call us infidels and insult us
Because what’s the offense?

Chorus:
What’s the offense of the poor
What’s wrong, what is right
Everyone just wants his destiny
Riddle: stir up the match
You can’t look into the future


Why? Ask the question, if we would all be intellectuals and rich
Who would do the dirty and dangerous work like working in the mortuary
Everyone here in town came for a ‘business’
Everything and everywhere
And even a human skin is for sale
Others are fake witches and wizards
Conmen, illegal travellers
While others are gentle-mannered like the Born-again Christians
In the afternoon offices are buzzing
While the night is hard, prostitutes,
Sugar daddies, criminals, and other things to be covered up
There are those who died when fighting for their lives
Their memories have remained in the graveyard
And there’s those who lost the hope that they will ever win
You’d think they have taken their souls out of mortgage
When they stop you in the road
You have to give them your last remaining salary for this month

(Chorus)

Really, in Tanzania it’s a matter of finding your way
You will regret when you find out that you don’t even have a pair of shorts
Your decision, just hold it like a goalkeeper
And those who you’d depend on until the end will let you drown
You’re not educated, don’t have any special talent
But strength, tongue, economy you have it, you sit on it
Remember
To gain and to loose, it’s all normal
Sometimes you sleep and dream and eat
You drink, you French kiss
And make love to a lovely girl
To your surprise you find that the place is empty
There’s nothing


X Plastaz
In recent years the X Plastaz have become known for being the first hiphop crew to use Maasai music and culture in their performance. Maasai singer Yamat (also known as Merege) is now a full member of the group who has joined on tour and in the recording studio.

X Plastaz grew up up in Arusha, a city in the heart of Maasai land surrounded by steppe, savannah and other climates, most famous for its wild reserves like the Ngorongoro crater. There are many different peoples living in Arusha, and some of them have chosen to preserve their traditional cultures. The Maasai, nomadic cattle herders, live in scattered settlements around the plains surrounding Arusha, while their territory reaches deep into Kenya and south towards Dodoma.

The rappers (themselves of Haya and Pare origin) had been familiar with Maasai culture, but in 1997 when they were invited to stay in a Maasai boma (kraal or settlement) 60 kilometers south of Arusha, they first experienced the uniqueness of the Maasai ways of life. It was in this boma that they noticed the similarities between rap and traditional Tanzanian music, and they decided to look for a way to merge the two.

Yamat & Lesikar
Now that their eyes were opened to the incorporation of local music, X Plastaz teamed up with Lesikar and Yamat (artist name: Merege), two brothers who had enrolled in the Aang Serian cultural conservation project (also see the links page). Lesikar and Yamat are from a small Maasai village to the west of Arusha, quite isolated from the bustling city life. Both grew up in the traditional nomadic way lof life. Yamat is the champion singer of his age group, knowledgeable of all aspects of Maasai singing.

After some practice sessions in which X Plastaz and Yamat tuned in to each other's musical experience, Gsann and Yamat started performing together on a number of occasions around Arusha and Moshi. By January 2001 they had composed two songs which for the first time in history linked up hiphop and Maasai vocal music. Yamat sings exclusively in Maa, a language which sounds quite different from the Swahili and Haya that X Plastaz use.

2 comments:

Elizabeth L.,  March 2, 2009 at 12:49 AM  

Wow, Nate....Powerful stuff. Of course, the thing i'm picking up on in the lyrics is the tension with Muslims. Can you help me distinguish which parts are not in swahili?
elizabeth

Nader March 2, 2009 at 9:55 AM  

you mean the part about halal and haram? Hmmm...maybe, I never looked at like that before.

Anyway, the whole song is in Swahili (with the exception of a few words which are English, usually at the end of a line). The very end of the song features Yamat singing in his language...thats the only non-Swahili part.

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