Known for his stage names Mr. II, Sugu and 2Proud, Joseph
Osmund Mbilinyi is one of the founders of Hip hop music in Tanzania.
His lyrical style, which is methodical yet quick, has been mimicked by many of
the genre’s newcomers. His peers view “his observant narratives, canny wordplay
and flamboyant delivery” as a trademark of their genre.
Sugu is also the founder and director of Deiwaka Entertainment Company Limited
that has dedicated itself in promoting and developing Tanzanian
flava as part of the fight against poverty and unemployment among youths in
He has traveled around the world performing. He’s respected among his peers
for his outstanding contribution to helping the music business find its own
Sugu, which loosely translates to ‘Stubborn’ or ‘Hard’, is the truly living
legend in the Tanzanian and East African rap arena. He gets an outstanding
credit and respect for his contribution on giving life to Tanzanian rap/Bongo
He helped Tanzanian rap music to find its own way of developing into business
— creating hope and opportunities in life to thousands of urban youngsters
from the streets of Tanzania and East Africa in general.
He was the winner of the Best Hip hop Artist Award at the Tanzania Music Award
in 2000 and the following year he won Tanzania’s Best Male Artist Award at the
M-Net Africa Grammy Awards.
In 2005 his album ‘Moto Chini’ was nominated for the Best Hip hop/Rap Awards at
the Tanzania Kili
Sugu’s music speak for itself. He is not and has never been afraid to tell it
as it is, whether it’s about himself and his personal life experiences and
challenges, or issues affecting his society at large like corruption, poor
democracy, human rights, police brutality, government officials and the misuse
of powers, prostitution and underage prostitution, love and relationships, self
confidence or anything around his daily real life.
Sugu hails from Songea in Ruvuma Region. He was born on May 1, 1972 and started
in rapping while at secondary school in Mbeya town where he was living with his
family and attending Mbeya Day Secondary School.
While at school in 1989, he teamed up with his two school friends to form a
group called B.V.S.M.P.
They used to exchange rhymes on school corridors during break times between
classes — not knowing at all it was coming to get him this far!
After completing secondary education in 1991, his musical journey continued.
Back in Mbeya in 1992 he connected with other friends, DJ BBG and San Jacko to form a rap group known
as ‘Niggaz II Public’.
As a group they did shows at every school and college in Mbeya town before they
signed a contract with GTZ — a German non-governmental organization.
After discovering their early potential and the hype rap music was bringing
among the youth, GTZ needed the group to do campaign shows on HIV and AIDS
awareness around the town.
Soon the group became popular in Mbeya and the neighbouring towns. In 1993 Sugu
moved to Dar es Salaam where he later took on a solo career and got more
serious with music and since then there was no going back for him.
In 1994 he joined briefly with a group called ‘Da Young Mob’, so he could have
a chance to participate in the Yo’ Rap Bonanza competition (solo artists were
not allowed to participate in the competitions).
The competition was organised annually by the then much renowned entertainment
company, Kim & The Boyz in Dar es salaam. After shining from first round to
the finals, 2Proud and Da Young Mob ended up third winners.
The same year, Sugu, then using the name 2Proud, recorded his first single
‘Siku Yangu’ which means ‘My Day’. The song became a big hit and introduced him and his music to fans
all over the country.
As the first real Tanzanian rap star, Sugu has performed at venues in almost
every town in Tanzania and was the first artist to tour the country entirely.
Since the release of his first single and album, Sugu made hits after hits,
toping the local radio charts throughout all these years, doing collabos with a
number of artists and also introducing new talents into music.
In 1995 he released his first album ‘Ni Mimi’, opening the gate for non-stop
album releases. His much credited sophomore album ‘Ndani ya Bongo’ came out in
1996, then ‘Niite Mr 2’ in 1998, ‘Nje ya Bongo” in 1999, ‘Millenia’ in 2000,
‘Muziki na Maisha’ in 2001 and ‘Itikadi’ in 2002.
And after a ‘brief retirement’ and while spending a period of time in the UK,
he met with a Kenyan born UK producer Sir Prestige, who convinced him to go
back to the studio and “do it for the fans.”
They went to the studio together in South London and in 2004 he released his
eighth album, a self-titled ‘Sugu’ followed by ‘Coming of Age/Ujio wa Umri’,
which was produced by a famous Swiss producer known as DJ Link and released in
2006 with a bang.
Sugu released his tenth album ‘Veto’ last December. The album was recorded at
S&S Studios in Brooklyn, US, under producers Stiggo and Puzo. Local Hip hop
artistes like Joseph Haule aka ‘Professor Jay’, Msafiri Kondo ‘Solo Thang’,
Hamis Mwinjuma ‘MwanaFA’, John Simon ‘Johmakini’ and Ahmed Dolla ‘Balozi’
feature in the ten-track album.
His voice continued to dominate the airwaves in Tanzania and as far as
Lubumbashi in DR Congo and with over nine albums so far released on his name, he is no doubt the most
productive MC ever in East Africa.
Ask many of the artists in Tanzania who was their first influence in music?
Most of them will say Sugu. A number of big Tanzanian and some East African
artists have admitted openly that they learned how to flow by copying his early
In his music carrier he has performed and made appearances internationally in
the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium and the US.
He also participated at various international music festivals like the 1998
WOMEX Festival in
Stockholm, Sweden, where he shared the audience with legendary African singer
Oliver Mutukudzi from Zimbabwe.
He also featured at the 2001 Festival Mundial in Tilburg, the Netherlands where
he was also ‘blessed’ to share the audience with another African legendary
musician, Baaba Maal from Senegal.
Sugu also performed at Zanzibar International Film Festivals (ZIFF) 2000/2001
Sauti za Busara Festival in Zanzibar in 2005 and hosted several Hip hop/rap
The outspoken musician, who is embroiled in a row with an American firm,
Malaria No More, over a recent malaria campaign in the country, is still
remembered as the first person ever to initiate and organize the first ever Hip
hop concert by an American super group to be held in Tanzania.
In 1998, the Lost Boyz, then a very big and world famous group from New York,
went to Nairobi, Kenya for a concert.
Sugu, without even being sure about business side of it, he took the risk and
managed to convince Kenyan promoters who booked the group for that East Africa
tour to bring the group for a concert in Dar es Salaam as well. They agreed and
Lost Boyz came and gave a great and memorable show.
Apart from just recording and performing, Sugu has done a lot of activities for
the development of
Tanzanian rap music and the local music industry in general. He organised a
historic event, the ‘Tanzania Hip hop Summit’, which was held successfully with
a very positive impact in Dar es Salaam in December 2004.
More than 500 music stakeholders, among them were artists, producers, radio
DJs, journalists, Tanzania copyright society representatives, diplomats from
American embassy in Dar es Salaam, university professors and doctors, attended
to discuss developments and problems facing music industry in Tanzania.
In 2005 using his company Deiwaka and in cooperation with the French cultural
Tanzania (Alliance Francaise), Sugu helped organise a concert by a Senegalese
rap legend, Didier Awadi, who toured Tanzania as part of preparation for his
‘African Presidents’ project — a very clever concept album of which Sugu is
The same year, in collaboration with the Swiss embassy in Dar es salaam, he
organized two big concerts in Dar es Salaam city’s ‘Uswahilini’ areas.
Prominent Tanzanian artists like Fid Q, Afande Sele, Saigon, Dr Levy and Sugu
himself performed live on stage together with Chlyklass Crew, a number one rap
group from Switzerland.
After releasing ‘Coming of Age/Ujio wa Umri’ album in 2006, Sugu once again
went on the road for ‘The Coming of Age Tanzania Tour 2006’, giving massive
live shows on stages in the packed venues from town to town across Tanzania.
His inspiration came from Ice Cube, Niggers With Attitude, Tupak Shakur, N.W.A,
Scarface & Getto Boyz, Jay-Z and Russell Simmons.
Currently Sugu is serving as a Member of Parliament (CHADEMA) for Mbeya Urban.