Music is a powerful, emotional and memorable way to spread a message, something Zoe Kabuye is perfectly aware of.

At 14 years old, Kabuye is a professional rapper in Uganda using her creative drive to make music that focuses on social issues and children’s rights. Known professionally as MC Loy, Kabuye became the youngest rapping newscaster in Africa last year and now appears regularly on NewzBeat, a Ugandan television show featuring artists that report the news musically.

As rap music becomes increasingly popular in East African countries, more and more hip-hop artists emerge as socially and politically aware artists who use their talent to spread a message. Unfortunately, media in Africa is often censored and regulated by the government; rap, however, permits free speech, making it a rare and excellent way to spread hard-hitting social issues.

Kabuye began rapping at a very young age and in 2012 she rapped for Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, at a celebration for the country’s 50th year of independence. Now, she addresses issues regarding social justice, including sexual abuse, limited access to education, and corruption in the Ugandan school system.

Successful and informative, Kabuye earned her career with raw talent and guidance from 28-year-old rapper Sharon Bwogi. Professionally known as Lady Slyke, Bwogi recruited Kabuye to join NewzBeat and is one of the most admired female rappers in Uganda. Her music centers on human rights, child abuse, youth empowerment, and peace.

Every Saturday, NewzBeat is presented in English and Luganda, the language of Uganda. Each episode runs for five minutes featuring four local, regional, and international stories. The program is not afraid to address the hard-hitting and controversial topics; in fact, NewzBeat thrives on informing the people about these issues, covering subjects such as poverty, government corruption and Uganda’s desire to outlaw mini-skirts.

The television program has gained a loyal group of followers since it first aired last year, attracting viewers with its unique musical foundation. Uganda’s youth is especially interested in NewzBeat and as the leaders of future generations, this is a huge thumbs up. It is important to educate today’s youth about social issues so they can formulate opinions and make change.

Positively employing their talents, Bwogi and Kabuye have shed light on the real issues in the world. They yearn for social justice and are effectively using their voices to make a difference. This dynamic duo raises awareness and takes action to address what’s wrong with the world. Lady Slyke and MC Loy just dropped the mic.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: Take Part, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2
Photo:CFM News

What's 'Musicogenic' Got to Do with It?Countless amounts of people have probably been either uninformed or misinformed of the still-developing musicogenic epilepsy. One may think: what is this ‘musicogenic,’ and what does it have to do with poverty and world issues?

Musicogenic epilepsy is defined as a rare neurological disorder retaining seizures that are triggered by the onsets of different sounds layered in musical pieces.

Initially considered “reflex epilepsy” that stemmed from the right temporal lobe according to a 1989 study, it would be later proven in further research that the disorder stemmed from multiple temporal lobe foci, alongside holding ties with certain emotional reactions and additionally breaking loose from categorization as a “reflex” disorder.

As early as 1937, researcher MacDonald Critchley recorded three cases that attained a then unknown phenomenon that would become the ‘musicogenic’ disorder. Critchley noted that the disorder was “too rare,” but did assure that the seizures could not occur without the inclusion of music, also adding that certain types of music contributed to the cause.

Take note of Mariah Carey’s 1993 up-tempo classic, “Dreamlover,” for example.

The angelic recording would live up to its critical title as an “infectious tune,” when in 1998, a Japanese native woman alleged that three minutes into the piece triggered a seizure episode, resulting in a lengthy hospital visit accompanied by a series of medical tests. It would then be found that certain elements—allegedly the sound of the production’s bells—would play a role in the attack.

What soon followed was not only an alleged lawsuit launched against Ms. Carey’s recording label, but also a more redefined look into the mysteries concerning the neurological disorder.

In 2003, during infantile epileptic testing, the 6-month-old subject’s right-sided focal seizures were triggered by loud music performed by The Beatles. Researchers formulated that personal musicality and sensory response served as potential results for the causes of the attacks.

However, in a recent study conducted in 2014, it was reinstated that emotion served as a driving response when testing the playback of Russian music to a 32-year-old epileptic-sufferer. Further findings indicated that the dysregulation process of “musically-induced emotions” played a role in musicogenic seizures, rather than the musical stimulus itself.

More results from the testing theorized that the newfound discovery of cognitive dysregulation could hold potential links to other forms of epilepsy, such as reading epilepsy.

Though it is still a developing mystery, several forms of epilepsy still account as a large suffering and mortality rate in impoverished settings; two-times the amount when compared to high-income settings.

In lower-income regions, where high mortality rates are often associated with the lack of treatment in epilepsy, medical supplies to aid epileptic-sufferers have been scarce. This results in the growth of risk factors.

As developments continue to be designated, inexpensive interventions are at the forefront of ultimate factors in minimizing epileptic rates. Other solutions presented include risk factor prevention, improved access to biomedical treatment and continuous supply of high-quality antiepileptic drugs.

Medical analysts are determined and confident that progressive testing and newly discovered results will yield the musicogenic disorder into the right direction for the betterment of studying, and moreover, for the potential solution to accompanying epilepsy cases in poverty-stricken areas.

– Jeff Varner

Sources: NCBI 1, The Lancet, NCBI 2, Editors Choice Archive, NCBI 3, Brain, NCBI 4, NCBI 5
Photo: Wikipedia

indigenous music
Raw Music International is a journalistic team consisting of host Cyrus Moussavi, photographer Jacob Russell and others. The team travels the world and lives with musicians in an effort to bring music “from the most innovative underground scenes [they] can find.”

Raw Music’s pilot episode took an inside look into Kenya’s indigenous music scene. Moussavi visited with Kenyan emcees, producers, and guitarists and helped bring attention to their music. In a video on Raw’s YouTube page, Moussavi meets with hip hop producer Vic da Produca.

During an interview with the producer, Moussavi asks why the majority of studios in Kenya he’s been to use Fruity Loops, a relatively inexpensive audio software. Vic Da Produca explains, “Fruity loops is much easier and cheaper. Because we can’t afford instruments. Instruments are really, really, very, very expensive.” Using a computer and CD of Fruity Loops, artists such as Vic da Produca can have access to thousands of instruments at a fraction of the price.

Raw Music also interviewed blind guitarist Olima Anditi and features a live acoustic video of his song “Apoli” on their YouTube page. Several more videos from Kisumu, Kenya artists are featured on the page as well.

NBC News picked up Raw Music’s most recent inside look into Kurdistan’s indigenous music scene. Moussavi describes the area’s music scene as a “rich musical tradition carried out under the most brutal conditions.” Moussavi goes on to describe how under Saddam Hussein’s rule all music, even singing, was considered political and many musicians who refused to give up their culture and stop singing were sentenced to death.

During Moussavi’s visit to Kurdistan he noticed “a musical void” in the country, an absence of what he describes as the “old musicians”. Since the end of Saddam’s regime and the monetary inflow of oil money entering the country, Moussavi explains many have left music behind in favor of capitalistic pursuits.

Moussavi also notes that the focus on capitalistic pursuits may be due to the Kurd’s long history of suffering. He reports that many feel this economic opportunity to be temporary and expect it to end soon. As a result, many have stopped playing music and have started focusing their time on making money.

This has caused conflict for some families. Moussavi interviewed an 18-year-old musician named Mohammad from the town of Kalal, who told Moussavi, “I crave art, but my family says make money. My mother burned my books. They don’t understand.”

Raw Music International provides publicity to artists who may not otherwise be known internationally. These talented musicians play music for the love of it. They are not famous celebrities with exorbitant wages: they truly are musicians and as such deserve the attention all artists do.

The work in Kisumu, Kenya can be described as the beginnings of a masterpiece and in the words of Eli Sketch, a local Kenyan emcee, “What do you draw before you draw a masterpiece? You draw a sketch.”

Christopher Kolezynski

Sources: NBC, Raw Music International, Raw Music International YouTube 1, Raw Music International YouTube 2
Photo: MTV