When she started out in the late '90s, MC Yallah drew her inspiration from American hip-hop. The industry was young in Uganda and with few resources available, most hip-hop artists were working over instrumentals imported from the U.S. As the Ugandan artists she started out with, like Chameleon, Bebe Cool and Bobi Wine, rose up into the mainstream, MC Yallah took a step back from the scene to focus on herself and her family. She made her comeback in 2008 with her first hit, "Abakyala (Women)." She stuck to her roots in underground and conscious hip-hop, honing her craft. But the music industry in Uganda had rapidly evolved and that, compounded with the challenges of being a female rapper in a male-dominated industry, slowed her progress.
Though I'd heard of MC Yallah, my first interaction with her wasn't as a rapper, but as a presenter on the hip-hop styled news bulletin, NewzBeat, where I was a writer. She started there in 2013 and it was around that time that she met the founders of the Nyege Nyege festival, Derek Debru and Arlen Dilsizian, who took interest in her 2012 release, "Ndeete," a call-and-response audience favourite. MC Yallah performed at the first Nyege Nyege Festival and at every following edition, growing in popularity as she laid out her rapid-fire flow over electronic beats. She released a string of well-received singles, including the 2017 hit "Mpambana" and 2018's "Ting Badi Malo."
A year later, MC Yallah's decade of hard work after returning to the game would culminate in the release of the electrifying Kubali EP, a collaboration with Berlin-based producer Debmaster. 2019 was also the year she performed on international stages off the continent of Africa for her first tour with Nyege Nyege. In October, she took the stage for an impromptu performance during the Venice Biennale in Italy. Without a mic and geared only in headphones, she rapped over the notoriously fast 180-300 BPM of singeli, a Dar Es Salaam special. This was the start of a promising tour that took her to CTM and Unsound, among other festivals, until the threat of COVID-19 brought everything to a lurching halt. This brought her back to Uganda and into a severe lockdown, where returnees were detained at the airport for days and later forced to quarantine in hotels on their own budget.