Album review: The Ugandan (Independence day special)

October 08, 2020

Uganda’s 58th independence celebrations have a soundtrack. At  a time when love for the nation is at an all time high, punctuated by a world record performance by Joshua Cheptegei, The Mith has released a project that mirrors our sentiments. 

Seated with him at his home in a leafy Kampala suburb, you can tell that The Mith, real name Thomas Mayanja, is fulfilled, if not excited. His third album, The Ugandan, has been three and a half years in the making. There has been a great deal of anticipation and speculation leading to its release. 

Now, in 2020, in the middle of the deadliest pandemic of our lifetime, Ugandans plug in their wireless earphones, connect to the internet and soak in a timely album.

By The Mith’s own admission, the lockdown has been a blessing in disguise because it has put listeners in the right mindset to listen to such a reflective piece of work. In the recent past, listeners would prefer party songs to dance to at the bar. But now with bars closed and the COVID threat looming over us, the listeners seek soul food.

And he has delivered the package. 

We got a glimpse into the project close to two years ago when, together with Mal X and backed by Damzy Lola, he dropped “Amen”. It would go on to win the accolade for best inspirational song of the year at this year’s Uganda Hip Hop Awards. He didn’t release any other single afterwards, much to the disappointment of his fans. However, he says that it was by design. He intended for “The Ugandan” album to be consumed as a whole.

The album is as cohesive as they come. To achieve this, he works with Koz N Effect (production) and Samurae (mixing and recording) as the only producers on the LP. All the songs were recorded at TAG studios.

The Mith says that he is humbled by the songs that people have liked the most. He says that almost each song is considered a favorite by some people. This proves, he agrees, that he has catered for his diverse fanbase, without having to compromise. 

One of the songs that many people have warmed to is “The Hustler’s Prayer”. It is a straight rap song that tackles the issues that many Ugandans grappled with during the lockdown. He puts himself into the character of a Ugandan on their “grind” in such a tough period. He addresses the 50k issue that trended on Twitter, and manages to give it perspective, when he portrays how important that 50k is to another person.

Another favorite is “Give Her Love”, in which he pours out his heart. “Raise ’em Higher”, a collaboration with Navio, also stands out. In it, they both display their penmanship. 

The second “I’m So Ug” interlude on the album is yet another track in which The Mith flaunts his lyrical skills. Some have said that this particular verse can go toe to toe with any other on the continent right now. 

The 16 track album is full of gems. The title track “The Ugandan” is one of the writer’s favorite songs, especially on the second verse. It is pure poetry.

Throughout the course of the album he features proven talents who, even by their own high standards, outdo themselves. They include, in no particular order, Maritza (on the intro), Tucker HD, Blixxack, So Severe, EVON, JC Muyonjo, Martha Smallz, Essie, MAl X, Giovanni Kiyingi, Byg Ben, Judas Rap Knowledge, Joseph Sax, Eli Maliki and others.

All in all, the album achieves the mountainous feat of portraying various dimensions of being Ugandan, with the help of some of the best talents Uganda has, samples of Idi Amin, world class production from the inimitable pair of Samurae and Koz N Effect, and, of course, razor sharp penmanship from one of the best lyricists the country has ever produced. The result is the rapper’s third “Klasick”.