Boomkat Product Review:
Hakuna Kulala's breakout MC Ecko Bazz comes correct with this incendiary debut, an unforgettable amalgamation of supernatural trap intensity, nu-dancehall futurism, and politically-incensed Lugandan poetry, with production from Slikback, DJ Die Soon, Scotch Rolex, and Debmaster.
When Ugandan MC Ecko Bazz dropped 'Tuli Banyo' in 2018, it felt like a pivotal moment for the Hakuna Kulala label - the track was an anthem, centering a crucial new voice for the label and a broadcasting a sound that felt as if it pulled together a sprawling web of ideas and influences, from techno and trap, to grime and industrial. Four years later, "Mmaso" builds on that initial spark of excitement, pulling in assistance from the wider Hakuna family to orchestrate an ambitious record that assembles around Ecko Bazz's kinetic charm as a vocalist.
Bazz is an acrobatic rapper, and dances lyrically across dialects and tongues, spitting complexly annunciated Lugandan rhymes that detail the violence of the Ugandan slums. The productions he's chosen to accompany his rhymes mirror the friction of his words, but avoid cheap tricks. Title track 'Mmaso' is as grinding and intense as grime or drill, but it's carried by a presence that's far more colorful than any specific genre tag might suggest. Bazz has the versatility and range of a superstar and dives acrobatically from track to track as if he was on stage.
On the Slikback-produced 'Empungu Mubanga' he drops the energy to a low slither, growling with menace over Freddy Njau's winding cybernetic trap-gqom backdrop. There's a chirpy psychedelia to 'Teli', that juxtaposes Bazz's vocals with fairground synths and glass smashes, and 'Bikuba' pinpoints the rapper's ability to dexterously conjure up hooks and ad-libs, regardless of the language he's working in.