Hip Hop in Ethiopia has gradually been on the rise, and one of the men behind it is the extremely talented Lij Michael Faf.

Lij Michael
Lij Michael

Lij Michael is a Hip Hop artist from the Amharic speaking nation, and he is known as one of the originators of Hip Hop from his country. He was in the country for the fourth season of Coke Studio Africa, and The Insyder caught up with him to talk to him about his project with the Tanzanian group Yamoto Band.

He walked in with a charisma and a magnetism that immediately drew everyone to him; he was the coolest person in the room and to add on to that he was extremely warm and friendly. By the time I got to sit down and him I knew that this was going to be a particularly pleasing interview.

He spoke of his immense pride in being able to take part in this project.

“I’m the first Ethiopian rapper to participate it, and it is a huge opportunity that I love. Everything is great, and I am collaborating with the talented boys from Dar-es-Salaam so I can’t wait to introduce Ethiopia to them and to be able to tell stories about my country.”

Lij was buzzing to collaborate with Yamoto, something which would be of interest seeing as they sing in Kiswahili and he strictly raps in Amharic.

“I do this for my local people, and so I have to do it in our language”, he said with a smile. “I think it’s good to perform in our respective languages; even though I rap in Amharic and Yamoto rap in their language, we both love each other’s music. There is no barrier in our music.”

Lij recently came out with his new album “Zaray Yehun Nege”, which has been of great impact to his industry. His music is all about an authentically Ethiopian sound, in both the rapping and the production. With the present looking good for Hip Hop in Ethiopia, Lij also seemed to be of the opinion that the future is big as well. “There are a lot of underground rappers, who are on the come up. They love my music and I inspire them and it’s looking good because there is an entire generation ready to take over; Hip Hop is gonna be dope!” He adds with a lot of pride.

With a successful music career, it is sometimes difficult to pick a highlight; however, Lij easily points out the time he first did a concert in Addis and the entire place was packed with fans. “I was like ‘yo! Is this for real?’ I praised the Lord and it gave me so much motivation. It was a dream come true from me.”

Is a collaboration between Ethiopia and Kenya on the cards?

“No doubt! We need to do this. I can tell there’s rappers here doing their thing so it’s going to be big. You guys are my neighbors man, you’re just here!” He says with a laugh.

Lij wrapped up the interview with some words for the youngsters who would like to be rappers; “Hip Hop is not about cursing, violence or putting yourself in bad situations; it is beautiful if you do it with love. If young rappers are trying to do it big, they need to stay in school first and then to identify mentors who can help them; it’s all about doing it the right way!”