We have noticed that Riddims are becoming a thing in Ugandan Christian Music. We have received songs that are recorded on riddim beats and we had the very successful “Seek After Riddim” and “Sold Out Riddims” and a couple of others. We therefore got some time to chat with DJ Muji who needs no intorduction on what a Riddim is, or should be. This is how it went down.
What is a Riddim?
A riddim is like an instrumental that a producer has made. They were common in Jamaica. He (the producer) makes an instrumental, gives it out to guys (artists) to perform and calls it a name. And guys do it. So, what happens is he makes like a compilation of like 12 songs. That is basically what a riddim is. Many artists coming together and putting their lyrical content on an instrumental. The advantage with that is, you can also have……. Like you have a song and let’s say you give it to like six other artists to put something to it. The advantage is, that particular instrumental remains popular for a really long time. Now, you wouldn’t need to be like, “Eh, the song is going down and so I need a remix” you don’t do a remix, you do a Riddim.
So does a Riddim take on like a particular genre or style?
Most of them are usually reggae/Ragga because they have been made popular in Jamaica.
We have seen something happening with Riddims where a beat is made and whoever is in charge of the Riddim wants like a Hip Hop artist on the riddim. Question is, must the riddim be reggae/Raga and Dancehall or it can takr on other forms by genre?
It can take on other forms. It depends on how creative you are as a producer or artist. You (the producer) can come up with a Hip Hop beat and you give it guys who can pull it off. It can be done by the way. There, even the creativity will be at the higher side.
So it doesn’t matter what genre it is?
Not at all. You can bring out a Lingala hit and make it a riddim. But the challenge is getting the artist outside their comfort zone. For example if you are like, Ruyonga, here is a Lingala hit. Let’s see what you can do. He can do his flow. If he can merge Hip Hop with the Lingala beat, then there you have mastered creativity.
Now. There are Riddims that are traditionally secular (and I don’t know whether you should even call a beat secular or something,) but there are Dancehall beats that are traditionally secular and that may be vulgar in terms of the content that the artists have used.
Yeah, like totally on the other side?
Yes, totally on the other side, how should one go about it? Must yhe christian artist use Riddims that have been popularised by secular artists?
Under normal circumstances, that shouldn’t happen. Because, once a Christian Artist does it, for someone who is hearing it they will be like, “Eh, is this the other song we used to hear on radio or at yhe discotheque?” You know, first impressions, they matter. ‘Cause, yhe first place where you heard the song will always stick. Whether someone quotes scripture, John 3:16 or what, it will not work. Someone will remember the origial song.
Okay, the reason why I asked that is because, most Riddims have titles or a theme and something the creator of the riddim wants to communicate. For example like “Sold Out Riddim” and “Seek After” where there was a message in mind. Sometimes, you find a Christian Artist has used a riddim that brings questions. What are your thoughts?
That is true. There is one I heard by a Gospel artist and the thing is didn’t know it was a riddim by the way. Then, I hear the original one playing on yhe radio station and I was like (he expresses shock on his face), this guy has done this song.? I couldn’t believe it. Though, there are times when there’s like a secular riddim. The music is given out there? And you find that the one that is the most popular is the Gospel Riddim. Like the one of Sherwin Gardner, “Trying To Survive.” Originally, it was a secular riddim, but he was one of the guys who did it and his topped all the other riddims. Now “Plead Riddim” was also originally done by the secular artists but now, the one with Monty G just went and surpassed all these other ones.
So, should it just be said that when getting a riddim, you should be careful?
Now, if you have all been given the riddim at the same time, whether to secular or Gospel guys, it is okay for you to lay down your lyrics. But now, for a secular riddim that has already been released. All the vulgar stuff is already on. Then you the artist says, I want to redeem this Riddim. It will not work whether you do what.
But some people say or consider that purifying the Riddim?
There’s that because the secular artists have done really terrible stuff on their songs lyrically. Some are using suggestive language. It’s all about drinking, sex, and drugs. They’ve done a bunch of them and then this guy is late. He wasn’t there when yhe riddim was being released. I would not advice someone to take a riddim like later on. It won’t work because now, this guy (secular artist) has done enough damage. His song which is part of the riddim has done tremendous damage. It has become popular, it has been danced to and then you come late.
Isn’t that more damage?
It is is more damage. Because, you know the mind, when you subject it to something, it registers in the mind. You will know that, “I heard this song somewhere.” Now imagine, you used to hear it when you were not saved. When you became saved, you hear it again with an artist putting in scripture and you wonder, “Is this not the same thing I left in yhe dancing hall and now again, I am finding it here.”
It feels like the person is not creative enough!
Yes. That is creativity which is lacking. Of course riddims are the easiest to access if you want to save money and don’t want to go to studio to make a beat, it is the riddim that you think about.
Now, we have seen successful riddims such as the Mac Elvis song, Don’t cry which you mentioned, Sold Out, Christ Centric Unity, and Seek After Vol One. How should riddims be approached because we see a lot of people getting into the riddim band wagon?
Riddims are good. The thing is, theartists need to stay on topic inrelation to what the produI want. Sometimes artists hit a tangent. They go totally off topic. They don’t follow the theme. The most important thing to is, just follow the theme. You don’t need to be s reggae, Raga or Dancehall artist in order to sing on a riddim. For example, Pompi did Giant killa which is a Raga hit. It is sung normally. He talked normally, and the song came out. It just has to do with creativity. But niw the Ugandan artist! Man. They are really unique. The guy thinks the viice has to be hoarse. The guy thinks he must learn patois. But, they need to be confident about themselves.
I agree and now my questions are over.