You might have seen or heard a rap song called ‘Madam President’ sung by Frida Amani, one of the few female rappers in which she claims ‘feeling like Mama Samia’ of the rap game in Tanzania! It has so far made rounds on social media, and has been aired in communication outlets.
Speaking of her new hit released on April 8 this year, Frida says the idea for it came after Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan was sworn into the Presidency on March 19, 2021.
It was during the time when Tanzania was grieving over the loss of President John Magufuli who passed away on March 17 - and also celebrating the swearing-in of the first-ever woman Head of State in the East African Community countries, President Hassan. Like many Tanzanians, Frida was excited by the new leadership.
One chilly night, Frida was in her room when she received a message alert from rapper Slim Sal who suggested to her that she should release a song about President Hassan.
“It was then when the decision was reached on ‘Madam President,’ in which I portray the new President from a rapper’s point of view,” says Frida.
When making the music video, Frida and her Management were nervous when using the Presidential flag - a fear that had at first made them nervous, but just as soon started to fade away as they became hyped to see positive reactions by people to the song generally.
For starters, Frida did not think of the way the song would be received by fans. However, the Management had envisioned how it would fare in the music charts.
Her Management had plans to release a new, different number. However, the plans were consigned to the back-burner in favour of the ‘Madam President’ song due to being very topical at the time - what with Magufuli being the first President to die while still in Office, and the first female President ascending the throne, as it were...
When she was seven years old, Frida started developing an interest in music - and, especially rap music when she was a Form One student in Secondary School. When she was in Form Two, she started ‘spitting out’ musical bars.
This intense interest in rap music led Frida to ask her grandparents with whom she was living to allow her quit school pursue her music dreams. They succeeded to persuade her to continue with classes - and she could pursue her rapping dreams after completing Form Four level.
“After finishing Form Four/ Ordinary Level studies, I was told by my relatives to study Finance instead of taking up rapping. I failed my Finance course... After all, Finance was not something I sorely wanted. So, I started to really involve myself with composing and recording rap songs on my own,” she says.
Being her biggest cheerleader - so to speak - Frida’s mother advised her to take Mass Communication studies (Media and Production) in college, basically because these resonate with music, thereby cementing her music career.
In-between studies and music, she was drawn to, and inspired by, Vanessa Mdee, a Tanzanian singer, songwriter, rapper, youth activist, TV personality and radio host.
In 2015, Frida signed up for Bongo Starr Search (BSS) after being convinced to do so by her friend called ‘Patricia.’ The signing-up enabled her to win third place country-wise after she closed the grand finale with the ‘NusuNusu’ song by Joh Makini, featuring G Nako. Thereafter, Frida’s name started resounding in the country’s musical arena. She just as soon created a fan base that kept growing by the day.
After BBS was finalized, Frida took a break from music for about two years to see through the Communications career she had started to pursue before BSS. During the two years, she built her name with East African Radio where she headed the ‘Planet Bongo’ programme.
Being a radio presenter opened network doors for Frida - and also gave her insights into how music in general, and rap music in particular, should be done. This gave her a chance for another shot at music in 2018 - although she still worked as a radio presenter and a rapper.
“I was born to be a rapper, and my love for this music genre stems from the days when I listened to rappers the likes of the America rapper Lauryn Hill. This made me feel powerful and able to actually, become like her,” says Frida.
When she entered the music industry, Frida was nervous that the media would not give her songs airtime. However, things changed after she released ‘Jibebe’ in June 2018, when reactions from her fan base and media outlets made her rethink her decision to continue with being a presenter. Addressing the Rap genre in the Tanzanian music industry, Frida says it is the most belittled because of having few participants who have become renowned in the game.
So far, ‘our’ Frida Amani has composed a total of 50 songs, some of which are still in the pipeline.