Gameface (left), with the singers Pculture and Novena, producer Daudi a.k.a . Daz Naledge and Incubate project leader Maarten (right)

Last month, we announced a collaboration of the Tanzanian hiphop crew Watengwa with the Dutch dark-trappers Gameface and BLVCK, organised by Hivos, Incubate Festival and ourselves. A month later, we look back at the project with Incubate project leader Maarten and Gameface.

“The first surprise was that most of the crew-members of Watengwa didn’t actually come,” Maarten tells me. “They sent a producer and two female singers, who weren’t part of the core-crew but regularly performed with them. But there were no rappers. That made the project a little bit different from what we expected, but not in a bad way of course. More reggae-oriented than strictly hiphop, for example.”

Gameface agrees. “But just the fact that we were able to work with people from a whole different part of the world and be connected in music was already an amazing experience.”

One of the first things that Maarten remembers is the first night. The members of Watengwa had arrived just some hours before and were almost immediately dragged onto the stage to perfom with complete strangers they had barely exchanged a word so far. “But as BLVCK was playing, the producer of Watengwa started MC-ing and interacting with the crown, wich gave a really nice vibe.”

The next day was more quiet, the first moment to get to know each other on a more personal level. “The connection on the level of music was definitely there,” says Gameface. “It was funny to find out that, no matter how different our styles, we both use FL Studio to make our beats for example.” When I asked him if he knew anything about African hiphop or African music in general, he came with a nice story about the experimental track ‘Tribe’ he made a while back. “That track uses a sample from a popular African song and it turned out that one of the singers knew the original and loved the way I give it a second life in this way.” The producer, in turn, just happened to have downloaded some first EDM-trap tunes to his computer.

Gameface is very down to earth about the sometimes controversial relationship between trap music and hiphop. “I see it as a bridge. I’ve been producing hiphop for many years, including a lot of dirty-south beats, the ‘hiphop-version’ of trap. Besides I’ve always loved heavier electronic music like hardstyle and techno. When I first heard about ‘EDM trap’ I liked the idea and nowadays my tracks have become very synthy. The only thing I don’t like is ‘lazer trap’. It’s a sound we’ve been hearing in the Netherlands for s0 many years even before it became big in the USA.. I just can’t stand the sound any longer.”

But there’s a new generation in the air. “Espepially at their performance in Rotterdam, the crowd was very young and they seemed to be quite into the music of Gameface and BLVCK,” tells Maarten, with a tone that reveals that it surprised him, in a positive way. The other crowds they played for were again very different. Both at Inclubate festival and in Amsterdam (where they eventually performed, instead of going to Belgium), the crowd was largely made up of older folks that lingered around after seeing bands, without a specific connection to  hiphop or trap. “But they were genuinely interested in our music and we had them dance,” which was a great experience.

A week together is an increadibly short time to get to know each other, let alone to make enough music together for an actual joint performance. Yet, a start has been made. Gameface started with a beat for Watengwa’s singers to sing to. “I showed them my basic idea,” recalls Gameface, “and they immediately started to improvise, to try what would fit best. And it worked out very well.”

Currently, the track is being finished, put together with the vocals and mastered, to be released soon. We will of course keep you updated!


Check out a nice photo report here!












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