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Mambo Jambo’s music hits you with an inspired blend of rap and African beats. Sounding traditional and 21st century all at once, their style is wide-ranging, fresh and tight. Mambo Jambo have snagged worldwide attention since their first big hit, Hip Hop Mdundiko in 2001, and the buzz is only getting stronger as they release their self-titled new album.
Mambo Jambo entertain you with dance songs and love songs, but they also use their music to deliver messages of non-violence and HIV awareness. As producer and front man Benjamin says, "When we write, we like to observe life around us; telling stories from the real world and everyday living.” They believe in using the power of music to influence listeners in a positive way.
Born in Tanga, Tanzania, Benjamin Sixtus Busungu was inspired by music at a young age. He fondly recalls listening to a variety of LP records in his family’s home: trumpeter Jim Reeves, Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin and Mama Miriam Makeba, to name a few. His early hip-hop influences include KRS-1 and LL Cool J. Benjamin moved to Dar es Salaam in 1994 and one year later, sought out the only studio in town to record his first song. Kifo was a raw, powerful tribute to memorable musicians whom passed away. Radio station support of local music was rare at that time, so this industrious youth would bring his tapes to concerts and talk his way on stage to perform his own rap.
Benjamin recorded his second song, Ndoa Yamkeka, on CD in the sitting room of a friend’s house! It was broadcast on Radio One in 1997, when legendary radio hosts Mike Muhagama and Taji Liundi were leading the way in radio support of local artists. The following year, Benjamin’s started his first band, Outburst. They performed live constantly for almost a year before going their separate ways.
In 1999, Benjamin teamed up with Uwesu Mzee, a.k.a. G Stebel, and Kibwana Nguzo, a.k.a. Chuck B, to form Mambo Jambo. They chose FM Studio to record their first album, and there began their long-standing relationship with acclaimed Finnish producer Miikka Mwamba Kari - the foremost pioneer of Bongo Flava recordings. Mambo Jambo’s first single, Hip Hop Mdundiko, topped the charts in 2001, and was followed up by a unique version of the traditional love song, Rebeca. Their hit-making continued in 2002 with an elaborate adaptation of Jambo as a high-tempo house song and ode to their homeland of Tanzania.
Their 2004 debut album, Hip Hop Mdundiko, produced a string of 5 additional hits: Shemeji, Mambo Yangono, Penzi la Kifahari, Sugarmommy and Ekitobero, featuring Saida Caroli Ekitobero was a sensation, winning the 2004 Kilimanjaro Music Awards for Best Folk Song and Song of the Year, and earning Benjamin the award for Best Male Artist. Benjamin found himself traveling frequently throughout 2004, 2005 and 2006 to perform live with Saida Carol to monumental sold-out crowds. Mambo Jambo’s live performances also took East Africa by storm, creating a loyal fan base throughout the region. Their 2005 tour included stops in Kenya, Rwanda, Botswana, Malawi, Msumbiji, Burundi, South Africa, Congo and Reunion Islands.
While focusing on Mambo Jambo, Benjamin also started started to work with Art In Tanzania, a Finnish-Tanzanian NGO at Mzuka Records Studio. His credits as a producer at the studio include new releases by Dudu Baya, his own group and numerous upcoming young artists. Increasingly, Benjamin devotes his time and talent to aspiring Tanzanian musicians, developing beats and helping them find their own unique sound. He takes pride in helping young artists express themselves through music and speak out about important issues facing today’s youth. The Art in Tanzania Music Program, as it is now known, will continue to grow and develop Tanzania’s next generation of musical stars!