Da Fugitivz - Band On The Wall - 30.1.03

When you think of hip-hop the phrase "Gambian hip hop" doesn't exactly spring to mind. But then again if you're to believe what you see on MTV then you'd think that America was the only place that hip-hop was happening again. You'd also believe that the only artists were Nelly and Eminem but that's another matter. The fact is that reach out to places like Gambia or France or indeed dear old blighty and you'll find thriving hip-hop scenes which strive for innovation rather than a collaboration with J-LO or Justin Timberlake.

The fact then that a band like Da Fugitivz can travel continents and tour the length and breadth of the country into the hearts of real hip-hop fans speaks volumes. Winning the Best New Band Award at the Gambian Music Awards was just a stepping stone for this 5 piece who truly deserve global domination. Mixing up ragga, R&B and hip hop styles with traditional instrumentation the result is a surprisingly contemporary mash up like mixing Timbaland and the Neptunes into a melting pot and scrapping any of these production teams tedious formulas. Naturally their surroundings provide a unique voice vocalizing the history and problems of their native country in the sort of social commentary you'd hear from the likes of Public Enemy or Tupac.

It may just be early days for these guys in the UK, but with the current state of US McHip-Hop it can't be long before the general public starts looking elsewhere for the true voice of hip-hop. Da Fugitivz not only deliver that voice, but their live shows are a tour de force with only Run DMC matching them in recent years in terms of classic Manchester performances.

Alex McCann

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