One of East Africa’s most influential hip-hop artists, GNL Zamba is credited with being a pioneer of hip-hop in Uganda. GNL Zamba raps in English and his indigenous Luganda dialect, fusing hip-hop beats with traditional African instrumentation, in what he has coined “Lugaflow.” He is the founder and C.E.O. of independent hip-hop record label, Baboon Forest Entertainment.
Celebrated as Uganda’s “ghetto storyteller,” GNL uses lyricism to both mirror and critique his society. His music directly addresses social justice, domestic violence, African pride, public health, sexuality, environmentalism and ethnicity; often through the narratives of relatable characters. His song Story ya Luka/Story of Luke, was selected by Uganda Ministry of Health to headline the 2010 AIDS awareness campaign for youth education in Uganda. A year later, his video collaboration with Young Empowered and Healthy (YEAH) Uganda for True Manhood, won the People’s Choice Digital Media Award at the 2011 International Entertainment Education Conference. In 2014, the Twaweza Initiative awarded GNL for the positive social impact of his song We Cry, which tackles street violence and safe sex. Since 2013, GNL has been actively partnered with Reach A Hand Foundation Uganda, in a series of ongoing youth edutainment campaigns. Recognized for both his artistry and activism, GNL was invited into the academic sphere, when he lectured this year on oral literature and ethnology at Makerere University’s College of Humanities.
GNL Zamba’s impressive, and highly diverse repertoire spans across four albums: Koyi Koyi/ Riddles of Life (2009), Speaking Vernacular (2011), Renaissance (2013), and Dreaming in Color (2014). His popularity has earned him national deals as brand ambassador with Coca Cola, MTN Mobile Network, Dmark Mobile, Club Pilsner of East Africa Breweries, and Airtel Uganda. GNL has won several music awards including Uganda Buzz Music Awards Best Male Artist 2011/2012, and Best Group 2012/2013, Pearl of Africa Music Awards Best Hip-Hop Single 2009/2010/2011, as well as Club Music Video Awards Video of the Year 2013. At the international level, GNL has gained recognition performing at Ethiopia’s Selam Festival, Zanzibar’s Sauti Za Busara Festival, Denmark’s We Love African Music Festival, as well as tours in London, Sweden, Norway, Dubai, Tanzania, South Africa and throughout the USA; including the East African Convention, and the 2013 World Series of Beach Volleyball.
Currently, GNL is building a live world hip-hop fusion act that will begin touring internationally in 2016. He continues to explore his art and opportunities both within Uganda and internationally, to promote positive social change, and global cultural appreciation and awareness.