Ben Sukuya alias Byg Ben is probably one of Uganda’s most renowned rappers from Mbale.
And unlike the different rappers that have wrote their name onto the industry for doing it like the Americans, Byg Ben is famous for doing it in his mother tongue, Gishu.
But he’s not been on the industry for that long, it was just in 2015 during the Youth and Hip hop workshops with Bayimba Foundation that he was dared by Slyvester Kabombo, a renowned Ugandan rapper to write a verse in Lumasaba.
He had been rapping but mostly in English thus he looked at his language’s verse as a challenge – this though didn’t stop the then Kitintale based rapper to put the verse together;
“When it was done, I really appreciated it.”
Because of this encounter with his language, Byg Ben notes that doing rap in his mother tongue wasn’t his personal choice;
“It’s my language that choose me and I keep getting better every time.”
Known for his energy during performances, Byg Ben has had a long walk to the stage, starting out as an underground rapper in areas of Kintitale, he had given up on family, life and had resorted to soaking himself in binge.
“I almost had nothing to live for so, I would always be drunk on Kaveera Waragi (sachet gin)”
He would at times show up at the National Theatre and perform at the weekly jam sessions but then relapse to his ways even when he had been appreciated.
It took an intervention of a fan that tasked him to leave alcohol if he was to receive any help from him, and as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Today, the well built rapper boosts of songs like Ndolelele, Nzokesse E’Dab, Hello Baby, Khenisisakule and Mbetsa among other songs.
But for many people back home in Mbale, and of course those in Kampala, it’s the emotional Ndura which like many of his other songs is backed by Sharon Sento, his sister.
“Ndura, was the first song I wrote after leaving home, I was at a tight spot in my life and when a friend gave me the instrumental, I felt like it was talking to me and I needed to talk back,” he says adding that everything on Ndura is true.
Ndura is soulful song that he says means letting go; in one of the lines he talks about seeing people losing their hope but they should strive on since it all comes to an end.
Byg Ben was last year one of the artistes that graced the main stage of Bayimba International Festival, then, he performed for many people that were seeing him for the first time but managed to impress even when some mistook his Lumasaba for a South African lingua.
Earlier this year, Byg Ben was one of the few artistes that took part in the charity shows aimed at providing clean water in Karamoja; “While travelling to Karamoja, I never imagined that those people would dance to my music,” he says in bewilderment.
He’s one of the artistes that will be gracing the next edition of Blankets and Wine, having attended the last edition where his friend and rapper The Mith was performing, he knows the magnitude of the stage and couldn’t be more grateful;
“Performing at Blankets and Wine is not one of those things that I saw coming,”
He says adding that he’s looking at a bigger picture in all this.
“I consider it a blessing and an opportunity that leads to bigger things.”
Listen to his music: https://soundcloud.com/byg_ben