The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Meet Timothy Muhadin

Like many other aspiring rappers, Timothy Senyonga aka Timothy Muhadin grew up mimicking American superstars.

His early career was heavily influenced by the lewd styles of gangster rappers Eminem and Jay-Z. His music, which largely remained underground and echoed themes of self-hype, sex and money, won him praise from schoolmates. But even with the hype, Muhadin felt incomplete. "I somehow was not feeling it," says the 24-year-old rapper.

"I knew the music I was doing was not my real identity."

Feeling empty, Muhadin, who hails from an elite family of entrepreneurs, went to the UK for an education in Civil Engineering. And it is there that he discovered his true identity, subsequently rebranding himself into one of the most unique and promising Ugandan rappers.

"I met two Nigerian guys who were really passionate about their culture and music," Muhadin says, recalling how the trio instantly formed a music group and started performing at Canterbury College's social gigs.

"I was amazed at the reception we received from fellow students. I knew this was the kind of music I had yearned for all along," he says of the group's music, which combined Western and traditional African styles, a genre that has set him apart from the pack of bubblegum rappers that flood the local hip-hop scene.

Muhadin Music

Muhadin, whose concocted name is derived from Mujahedeen, an Islamic reference to religious fighters or jihadists, says he fights for the identity of Ugandan music. The name also has a connotation to jihadists' violent and rebellious nature, just like his music. His music mainly combines contemporary rap and heavily-rooted African beats.

Muhadin also borrows from other genres including Zouk, Blues and UK's House, giving his style a unique, almost unheard-of sound he calls 'Muhadin music'. Muhadin music, which is only a year old, is doing wonders. The rapper has so far released four singles under his new style - Sesetula, Eyampa (ft Jamimah), Special One (ft Charlie) and people's favorite Gimme That.

Gimme That especially continues to command respectable airplay six months after its release. The song is also doing rounds in clubs and is on Sanyu FM's African Hits countdown.

Future plans

Muhadin hopes to premiere his Eyampa video at the end of this week. Six other videos, he says, will be out by February, just in time for his Black Yellow Red seven-track album launch and a subsequent tour slated for early March.

"It will be a video album and hopefully, it will introduce me to more Ugandans," says the chubby rapper who speaks with a heavy British accent.

Muhadin also hopes to complete his Masters in Civil Engineering course at Surrey University in London.

Hobbies

Muhadin juggles music with a projects manager job at MBL Constructors, an elite construction company partly owned by his father. This tight schedule hardly leaves him any free time. For leisure, he plays soccer and reads novels.

Love

The self-styled music jihadist says he recently broke up with his girlfriend and is not ready to commit anytime soon.

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