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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Uncle 33 is the rapper to watch


During the Wapi (Words and pictures) show at Hotel Africana, a new face drew the attention of the audience like no other. It took Charles “Uncle 33” Ssebbowa a few seconds into his performance to send the viewers wild with excitement.

The 16-year-old, in an army green T-shirt, faded jeans; a light green rucksack on his back, electrified viewers with his warp-speed rap style and dramatic hip-hop gestures. He was rapping in Luganda; what is known here as Luga-flow.

Later, back stage, the first question was why he calls himself Uncle 33 when he’s evidently not.

“Because I have 33 secret brains,” he said and laughed. “It’s just a name!”

Then he talked about his dynamic performance of Kigambo: “That record is ‘bout street hip-hop. It’s ‘bout free style. It’s ‘bout myself being a bad boy ‘cause I’m a hot rapper!”

In his self-made dictionary, bad boy means “being stylish, musically speaking.”

Uncle 33, an S.3 student of Chwa II Memorial College, Namungoona, also calls himself a soldier “cause I do terrible things in music.” He began rapping in 2006 and says he has performed many times at school shows but never before a huge crowd as was at Wapi.

“The response was good; now I have many fans,” he said happily. “I hope to get a sponsor so that I can go to studio; I’ve written so many records which need to be recorded.”

Besides Kigambo, Uncle 33 has another song called No Refuse about poverty, corruption, wars and bad governance.

The first born of five, Uncle 33, lives with his single mother, Rose Kajoina, a small restaurant owner in Kasubi. Growing up without a father (he abandoned them) proved difficult for Ssebowa forcing him to find solace in rap music.

“I could express myself better that way even when I was a little boy,” he said. “I’m a hip-hop boy and I want to be like Jay-Z because he raps marvellously.”

Uncle 33 promises to help Luga-flow get high: “I’m the hip-hop riser,” he says. “I want to be on a higher level like Bow Wow.”

The absence of a father pushes him to read and work hard: “I really love it and I want to get money so that I can also develop my family.”

With the incredible gift of self-expression and stage charisma, it may not take long for all eyes to turn on young Uncle 33. Then Wapi organisers who gave him a platform can brag if they like.

--Daily Monitor, September 20, 2008