Ugandan female hip-hop artist Sharon Bwogi, alias Lady Slyke, comes across as a tough cookie and that’s exactly what she is.
She has withstood competition and outright hostility in the male-dominated field of rap music to become one of the most successful in the industry.
“Of course some male rappers ‘advised me’ to quit. But they weren’t there when I was beginning my rap journey. They don’t know why I do what I do,” she says.
Lady Slyke was one of the star performers at the the 2015 Viva con Agua concert held at the National Theatre in Kampala on February 28.
The concert, dubbed “We love YoUganda!” was organised by Viva con Agua supported by Welthungerhilfe, Goethe-Zentrum Kampala/Ugandan German Cultural Society (GZK/UGCS) and Afrika Arts Kollektive in collaboration with various musicians and artists to realise the great vision “all for water — water for all!”
Viva con Agua is a German non-governmental organisation that advocates for the basic human right to clean drinking water around the world.
She performed songs from her album Action Reaction such as Action, Bring the Love Back (featuring DJ Nesta), Nowhere to Run (featuring Blessed Sun) and Nkabongele. Fred Kasekende performed his Maide Maide (featuring Lady Slyke).
Lady Slyke is not a stranger to Uganda’s hip-hop music scene. She was among artistes who featured in the 2005 Pearl of Africa Music (PAM) Awards Best Hip-Hop hit Mother Africa. “I was happy, I felt the song was strong enough to win the award,” she says.
In 2013, she collaborated with fellow Ugandan rappers Abramz, Sylvester, Bris Jean and German artists Marteria and Maeckes in the hit single Blue Uganda. Blue Uganda spent one week on the German Singles Top 100 in mid-June 2013.
The song, which was written, produced and staged in one day in Kampala, was the soundtrack for the 2012 Viva con Agua concert in Uganda.
She also performed at the East Africa Talent Convention, Bayimba International Festival of the Arts, Breakdance Project Uganda (BPU) and hip-hop regional festivals. She has worked extensively with local and foreign rappers.
In 2014, she released a 15-track debut album, Action Reaction, which features a number of local rappers. It has tracks like Tojja Kulemererwa (featuring GNL and Nicki Norah), On My (featuring Tafashi), Abakyala (featuring MC Yaala and Prossy Patra), For The Ladies (featuring Keko and Tafashi) and Free Style (featuring Corp Zak).
She raps in English and Luganda in a style known as Lugaflow.
Focus, respect and doing what she loves are the personal attributes that the self-made MC, rapper, song writer and designer says help her to hold her own in the male-dominated music scene since the late 1990s.
Lady Slyke believes music and art are catalysts that can empower the youth for a better society.
To prove how versatile a professional she is, Lady Slyke is a co-presenter of NewzBeat with Daniel Kisekka aka Survivor. NewzBeat is a Ugandan weekend news and current affairs programme presented in rap format on Uganda’s NTV in both English and Luganda.
Each episode contains a mix of four or five local and international news items including sports, entertainment and human interest stories.
“NewzBeat delivers conscious, social, educative and political and much more but in a unique way. I say NewzBeat is a voice for the people by the people to the people,” she said.
As to the type of music she performs, Lady Slyke says: “It’s been a long journey in what I do in my life and am still moving. So I feel I have a lot to tell which I can pass on through my music.” She adds that Ugandans love hip-hop and those that understand it, promote it.
She comes from a musical family and this has helped a lot. “I found myself in music; it has always been within me. My mother was a member of the Rubaga Cathedral choir. So she inspired me into joining the music industry.”
On the state of hip-hop music in Uganda, she says: “I see the genre growing though there are many wannabes. There are artistes who have perfected the game and inspiring the youth to work for it it.”
In his description of Lady Slyke, fellow rapper DJ Nesta alias Baker Kadingidi says: “She is a hardworking woman, conscious and energetic when it comes to music. Music comes to her in a natural way.”
Lady Slyke’s advice to upcoming musicians is: “Do what you feel you can do best. Perfect what you do rather than faking it.”
She is working on her second album and says it will be coming out soon.