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Eritrean Hip-Hop Rhythms

He introduced what was not there with his own endeavor and commitment. As the matter of fact, he can be called the father of Hip-Hop in our country. His songs portray cultural and national pride and he looks to make his career bigger than ever. Eritrea Profile presents you Temesghen Ghide, the renowned rapper.

“I believe in the fact that I don’t have to work for money, but for history”, the Eritrean rap artist Temesghen told, on the interview he made with our newspaper. He is known for his unique musical rhythms and video clips. This dedicated vocalist, song writer and director is here with us to share his journey as a musician.

  • -Thank you for joining us today, let us start our talk by you introducing yourself to our readers.

Thank you for having me. I was born in Khartoum in 1981. Those days were the days my parents joined the armed struggle and I eventually got raised in the fields of Beitmrti Sewra. We came to Asmara after independence and I went to High school in Santa Anna Secondary School. Even though I was good in my studies, I didn’t manage to pass the matriculation exam. Afterwards, I joined the 7th round to do my national service.

  • -Coming back to your professional career, Hip-hop, how did you get into it, any inspirations?

I really liked listening to the Hip-Hop music since I was young. Particularly, I was madly into 2pak’s songs, specially the one album titled “changes”. I enjoyed rapping it to my friends whom I called my hommies. We used to sing English songs at different parties that were hosted at the time and that was the moment when an idea of introducing hip-hop in our mother tongue popped up in my mind.

Having a strong motive to come up with a Tigrigna Hip – Hop song, I had a feeling that the Eritrean youth would accept me and that i may become an inspiration to them. I made that my number one priority. In 1997 I took Poetry lessons which NUEYS presented. People thought it was crazy at first that I would never get anywhere with that plan. I literally started banging the doors from studio to studio trying to get a record. I really worked hard. Finally in 2002, an opportunity was presented to me which gave me a breakthrough as I was approached by the Cultural Affairs to present a song in Aba Hanni Festival of Sawa. That is my first performance in public. It was an amazing feeling I wouldn’t forget, I have struggled a lot to be recognized as a rapper. It was a bit hard, since the society was not familiar with such types of music. But that first time performance went great. It was a mix of traditional and modern music and it was famous for a couple of weeks I remember.

  • -How did it go from there?

It went well. The biggest opportunities kept presenting themselves to me and I used them to my advantage. One of the great events I have participated in was an event organized for the Independence Day celebrations at Asmara Palace Hotel in 2004. It was a big event which included great musicians from Africa. I performed a song that reflects the Eritrea’s freedom while the Africans were playing as my DJ. The crowd went crazy and favored me over the African musicians because I sang in a way that touched their hearts.

That was a successful moment for me.

In 2006, I came up with a song that earned me respect from my fans and numerous musicians. It was “Alemuye”, a kunama song which was played by the traditional music instrument Abangala. I used to appreciate the song, especially the melody; it is an emotional song. I want my works to be reflections of my environment and people. Art is a reflection of the society. Our beauty lies within the diverse cultures and ethnic groups. I want to tell the world how beautiful the Eritrean culture and history are through my music. In a type of music the youngster would relate. So, I remixed this song with its original singer who was travelling to Barentu and I sent it to the competition for the African Awards. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to win the contest.

  • -Any reason you might think that it wasn’t among the winners?

It was probably the quality of the video and the editing. We didn’t have the sophisticated software we have now for the video making at that time but it could be one of the reasons. I am sure if we had the materials that we have now, it would have been among the winners or would be acknowledged as one of the African songs. However, I was satisfied because I earned many fans through the song got recognized and respected as well by my society.

  • -Any challenges as a first Eritrean Rapper….?

Of course. Plenty as a matter of fact. As I said earlier, people didn’t really understand the music. They thought it was a joke, but I had a target to introduce hip-hop in my language, to upgrade the standard of Eritrean music. Most of all, I wanted to tell our story, share our culture and offer something to our young brothers and sisters. For instance, in one of my songs I try to explain how the Eritrean mothers are. Eritrean mother is as strong as a lion and would do anything to protect her family. I wanted the song to make our youngsters realize how their mothers are and how much they should appreciate and respect them. That is what I tried to reflect in it.

In comparison to my relentless efforts and time, people haven’t failed me. I got their full acceptance for my music. So far I have been able to present over 20 songs to the public.

  • -You write your songs and you have a big part in directing music clips as well.

You can say that. I wrote almost all of my songs. With regards to directing, I have the habit of watching western video clips. Thus, I also wanted to bring the best in our music clips. I have directed over 50 video clips to date and I am still working to upgrade my skills.

  • -Tell us about one of your recent works.

I recently presented a song that got high acceptance by the audience titled “Alena Do?” featuring Nahom Yohannes. It is a song that represents the Eritrean people and the harmony they have. I directed the video and it was a success. Recently, I just finished another song which will get released to the public soon. Hope everyone enjoys it.

  • -Care to share your future plans?

I want to keep working hard and bringing good music top songs to my fans and society. I want to work to make Eritrean music well recognized in the world, and particularly in Africa. It really doesn’t matter if it is my music or any other Eritrean musician; I just look forward to making this happen soon.

Further, I want to motivate the young Hip-Hop artists to work hard and come up with great works. There should be contests to yield professional rappers. I believe that progress is shown when competitions are presented. We can all bring our best if we compete with each other. And I hope that many artist would be motivated enough in this filed.

  • -Anyone or any party you want to forward your gratitude?

My family has always supported me immensely in my career. Friends and loved ones who contributed in me also deserve gratitude. It is because of them and everyone who cared about me that I am where I am today. I thank you all, including Eritrea Profile.

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