Review

MC Yallah

Yallah Beibe

Hakuna Kulala • 2023

There are MCs who can flow light-footedly over a groove and those whose syllables slap on the beat as heavy breakers. MC Yallah does both at the same time, and then does so within rhythmic frameworks that rarely follow conventional standards. Since the Kenyan rapper, who now lives in Kampala, became active again in 2018 after a long career break, she has mainly worked with the French producer Debmaster. He also contributed a couple of his bass-heavy tracks to »Yallah Beibe« for the Nyege Nyege offshoot Hakuna Kulala, while DJ Scotch Egg—here under the pseudonym Shigge—and Congolese jack-of-all-trades ChrisMan provided further material.

Together with two feature tracks with everyone’s favourite cybergrind shouter Lord Spikeheart and Ugandan dancehall singer Ratigan, the result is a decidedly international and stylistically nuanced picture. It is held together, of course, by Yallah’s spectacular, elegant force on the microphone. Even the comparatively unobtrusive opener »Sikwebela« is charged with drive by her rhythmically accentuated performance and then reveals itself to only be a warm-up exercise for what is to come. Yallah doesn’t just monologue to herself bar after bar, but dialogues with the music. Whether in a sort of call-and-response scheme (»Miniboss«) or as an agile counterpoint (»Sunday«), she allows dynamics to emerge that charge the sometimes adventurous beats with additional tension. Far out and yet always on point: That’s Yallah for you.