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Rapper Tay Grin Explains How He Uses Hip-Hop To Showcase His Own Culture

Tay Grin is a hip-hop artist with a strong connection to Malawian musical traditions. He has won national awards and has his own record label. He calls his sound Nyau music, and he's known in Malawi as the "Nyau King".

"My sound originates from the soil. It's a fusion of modern day sounds and drums. I'm from a tribe called the Chewa, and when I'm performing on stage I have my traditional drummers. Even our dancing is a fusion of traditional and modern day dance." Tay Grin explains that they use specific Nyau drums that have to be warmed up over a fire to thicken the hide.

"This gives them a quality that doesn't sound like any other drum you've ever heard. It's a very spiritual sound. When you watch the set it's a portrayal of who we are as a people." His biggest song is called Chipapapa featuring 2Baba from Nigeria.

"Chipapapa comes from a game that we used to play as kids and I turned it into a song that everyone can enjoy. It became a huge hit because it resonates with both the younger and older generations.

Tay Grin grew up listening to many different artists in his household. "My mum used to love Kwassa Kwassa so I grew up listening to Kofi Olomide, Papa Wemba and Pepe Kalle."

Ironically he dropped out of music classes when he was in high school because he was getting bad grades. "Fast forward a few years and here I am. Music is a thing that I do every day."

Tay Grin has a close relationship with his mother: "She has always supported me from the beginning. She even made an appearance in one of my music videos."

His mother worked with the United Nations and when she retired from the UN and returned to Malawi she became a cabinet minister. "Watching my mum in all these leadership roles has sharpened my skills and I hope that one day I can look back and say I’ve also done great things."

Tay Grin has also run for political office himself, but came second. "I care passionately about the development of my nation. There is a possibility that I might go back, but I think music is the focus now, and there's a lot more that needs to happen in terms of developing the music industry back home and getting Malawi on the map internationally."

He says he has many exciting projects on the way with his third album dropping this year, and a new song on its way celebrating the Chewa king. "I'm proudly showcasing my culture to the world".

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