Honouring Ngwair: Reflecting on a Bongo Hip Hop legend

Late Mangwea

What you need to know:

  • Reflecting on Mangwea's legacy, his close friend and fellow musician Juma Mchopanga 'Jay Moe' reminisced on their bond, rooted in their shared neighbourhood and involvement with Bongo Records.

Friends of the iconic hip hop artist, the late Albert Mangwea, widely known as Ngwair a.k.a Kaobama, have praised his impact on the music industry in Tanzania, even though it has been 11 years since his passing.

The passing of the Bongo hip hop icon on May 28, 2013, marked the end of the release of his incredible musical projects.

Rising to prominence in the 2000s with chart-topping hits like 'Ghetto Langu', 'Kimya Kimya', 'Nipe deal', and others, Mangwea left an indelible mark on Tanzanian music.

His talent and contribution to the music industry were recognised when he was awarded the Tanzanian Music Award for Best Hip Hop Artist in 2005.

Reflecting on Mangwea's legacy, his close friend and fellow musician Juma Mchopanga 'Jay Moe' reminisced on their bond, rooted in their shared neighbourhood and involvement with Bongo Records.

"Despite the little distance between us, music connected us. We both shared a passion for hip-hop and a dream in music," he shares.

Jay Moe fondly recalled Mangwea's unique style of lyricism and his quality representation in the music scene, which garnered admiration from Tanzanians and music lovers worldwide.

“He was a musical genius, he could freestyle for hours with different flows and meaningful lyrics, something not many hip hop artists can manage and Bongo hip hop has never seen a talent like that. He was like a pearl in our industry, and sadly, we lost him so soon,” he reveals.

However, he also acknowledged the challenges they faced in an industry with limited record labels and studios.

Despite this, both artists pursued their dreams and made their mark.

"Right now, many people have the opportunity to be heard, to get deals easily but it's crucial to maintain quality and continue improving like he did, considering the time and technology in those days," he explains.

He went on to say though Mangwea left the world at the age of 30, his influence lives on, with many still honouring his legacy and aspiring to follow in his footsteps.

“That’s the biggest thing in a music career - being able to inspire a new generation even after your death. He’s the reason most new rappers believe in freestyling and when you ask many of them, they credit their inspiration to Ngwair, the late Godzilla, or Chidi Benz,” he notes.

Another friend and fellow musician, Khalid Mohamed, well known as TID (Top in Dar), also shared his praise for Ngwair, highlighting his unparalleled creativity and dedication to his craft.

"Ngwair was one of a kind. His ability to create music that resonated deeply with people was extraordinary. His spirit and passion for hip-hop continue to inspire us all," TID said.

"He had a unique way of telling stories through his lyrics that connected with the everyday struggles and triumphs of ordinary people. His music was a voice for the voiceless, and his legacy lives on through those powerful messages."

Producer, Paul Matthysse aka P Funk Majani, who played a significant role in Ngwair's career by giving him the opportunity to become a bigger star in Tanzania through his Bongo Records record label, also spoke highly of him.

"Ngwair was exceptional in the studio. He used to freestyle most of his verses in his hit singles, which was rare and impressive. His spontaneity and raw talent set him apart from others," P Funk says.

"He had a strange ability to capture the essence of a beat and translate it into a lyrical masterpiece within moments. His work ethic and dedication to his art were unmatched, making every recording session a memorable experience," he continues.

P Funk further elaborated on the impact Ngwair had on the music production community.

"Working with Ngwair pushed us all to be better, to think outside the box, because he used to learn more about global music sounds and to strive for excellence in every track we produced. His influence extended beyond his own music; he set a standard that many upcoming artists still look up to and aspire to reach,” he shares.