America’s BET Hip Hop Awards pays tribute to Tanzanian hip hop: rapper Gsan of the group X Plastaz from Arusha, Tanzania participated in this year’s BET cypher among legends such as KRS One, Wale, Mos Def, Eminem and dj Premier.

The annual BET Hip Hop Awards are watched by millions of hip hop fans across the United States. Especially the part of the show in which Gsan participated, titled the BET Hip Hop Awards cypher, was highly anticipated as it’s a true gathering of giants in rap music. The cypher, in which the artists go back to the raw essence of hip hop, sees legendary dj/producer Premier team up with emcees such as Mos Def, Black Thought, Eminem and Joe Budden. The section in which BET pays tribute to the growing popularity of hip hop from East Africa by including Gsan has the Arusha-born rapper performing alongside veteran rapper KRS One along with newcomers Wale and Nipsey Hussle.

The inclusion of X Plastaz in this year’s BET Hip Hop Awards came about when BET contacted X Plastaz, after seeing their music video ‘Nini dhambi kwa mwenye dhiki’ on the Youtube website. ‘Nini dhambi’ which has drawn over 400.000 views is one of the most popular East African music videos on the web. Gsan flew out to Brooklyn, New York where the cypher was pre-recorded in an empty factory building. His contribution was a rap in Swahili over an old school loop, cut up by dj Premier. While Swahili language hip hop was something new for the other artists, KRS One and Premier were full of love for the African input into this year’s cypher.

Watch it: BET cypher 2 with KRS One, Wale, Nipsey Hussle and Gsan:


After recording the cypher, Gsan attended the Awards ceremony which took place in Atlanta on October 10 and was finally broadcast on the 27th.

Says Gsan in an interview with Emcee Africa presenter Lee Kasumba: “Well, the Cypher segment was recorded in New York before the actual award ceremony. For me, it was just amazing to be there with people like Eminem, KRS One, DJ Premier playing the beats, and being able to showcase what I had. Many people were blown away with what I did and asked me why I rhymed in Swahili ‘cause they wanted to understand. I was just like ‘English is not my first language, I speak it, I love it but you will be able to mess me up if I rhyme in English’. There were emcees from all over the world in one setting, and I was happy to represent for Africa. I wasn’t starstruck, just glad to showcase what I did and could do with my American counterparts. I mean, think of it, we really have the same names, just one word changes, African American and African, do you understand what that means?”

Official BET Hip Hop Awards website:
X Plastaz website: