1. The Majority Of Zambians Are Still Very Uneducated
But every single Zambian can understand fully at least one local language, meaning the pool of potential fans is always larger for a rapper using a local language.
2. International Audiences Already Have A Huge Option Of English Rappers To Pick From
So when they want to listen to African music, the music that sounds the most African will capture their attention faster than a rapper that sounds like something they’ve already heard enough of. And in all honesty, an American or European rapper by default has a better English flow than an African because to them English is a first language.
3. Music Is About Connection
This applies to movies too. A larger majority of Africans connect better to content that seems authentic than to content that seems fabricated. Movies and music that have an authentic African setting are more relatable than western-influenced ones. TV shows like Mpali and Ubuntu have been found to resonate better with locals than shows that depict a lifestyle that’s too far out of reach for the majority of Zambians. Why sing about a Bugatti that most of us will never drive or see? Meanwhile, we see Toyotas every day – that’s more relatable.
4. We Have A Hypocritical Culture
Our culture would rather respect and appreciate an English rapper from outside more than one from within – even when their music sounds the same. It’s not something to proud of, but it’s currently true.
5. Very Few Rappers Can Skillfully Rap In A local language In A Unique Way
A typical Zambian rapper grew up listening to English rap, so English is still the easiest language to rap in. Local languages are a whole different story. There aren’t enough options for variety so most rappers that try to rap in a local language easily sound like one of the top rappers. Like borrowing a style. It’s far easier to sound unique and carve a lane for yourself in English than it is in a local language. So a rapper who can uniquely rap in a local language easily stands out from the crowd.
Rappers like Muzo AKA Alphonso, Willz and King illest have very distinct Bemba, Chewa and Tonga flows, respectively. That makes them easily stand out. So a younger artist like Epas (See video here) or Molto (Listen here) have a bright future ahead.
Abel Black is a Lusaka based influencer. He’s a firm believer of logic and strategy and is a thought leader in music branding and marketing. He can best be described as an introverted thinker – observant and analytical.