Essentials: Big Yasa opens a new chapter with ‘Biggs’ EP
Essentials: Big Yasa opens a new chapter with ‘Biggs’ EP

Essentials: Big Yasa opens a new chapter with ‘Biggs’ EP

A young rap star writing his legacy one quotable bar at a time

Big Yasa might be considered a newcomer in the mainstream music scene but he’s been around, earning his stripes as one of the exciting, emergent rap stylists in Kenyan drill music. Born and raised in Kibera, Kenya’s second largest slum, Big Yasa has steadily learned the art of incorporating the daily challenges of his community into his songwriting. His story is not majestic or lavish, rather it’s a dark side with a hint of hope for a better tomorrow.

Making a menacing entrance in 2020 with Mahd Clan freestyle,” he displayed his raw ability to make every bar ring out with a purpose. While the Drill hype was at large taking over Africa, Big Yasa made his official debut with Peng Ting, featuring Twice the Gang. On an ominous beat, he sang along to the drill melodies as he tried to find his place and sound in the scene. Just as a seed needs nurturing to flourish into a flower, Big Yasa’s craft required polishing. It was not until he releasedCompete, featuring label mate Spinx Mafia, that he turned a couple of heads in the city. It was finally clear Big Yasa had found his flow and the perfect production. The drill beat was inspired by the dusty feel and thudding knock of ’90s east coast rap, giving life to Big Yasa’s husky voice, his unique selling point from the jump.

Over the years, Drill has been associated with unbridled youthful exuberance, and while Big Yasa leans into that, he’s more thoughtful in his approach. Growing up in Kibera, he uses his drill tracks to tell menacing tales of survival which resonate with the youth of Nairobi, as he reflects upon the harsh realities of the street. Ulalaa featuring Davaji saw him take a more intimate approach to his writing, reflecting on the death of his parents, while calling out lazy people. While building his cult following, he participated in the Ordinare Challenge hosted by veteran rapper Khaligragh Jones, reaching the semi-finals before falling off. The Nairobi rhymer knew he had to do better and focused on pushing forward.

A strong affiliate of Buruklyn Boyz, he has managed to carve out his identity in the drill scene under his label Mahd Clan. As 2021 wrapped up, he gifted his fans a feature on the fan favourite Bad Boyz Club alongside Nairobi’s drill stars Buruklyn Boyz and upcoming Mombasa artists Double Trouble. Big Yasa closed off 2021 as an UnKut Hennessy HipHop Awards nominee for Best Drill Artist. A champion of growing together as artists, Big Yasa often puts up Live YouTube sessions of various drill artists jumping on beats with his latest experience dubbed, “The Wapoa Live Experience,” with the main goal of promoting fellow underground superstars.  Over the past few months, Big Yasa continued dropping his group of loosies and jumped on a bunch of features for other artists such as Sewer Sydda, and, most recently, Buruklyn Boyz on their debut album East Mpaka London.

Two years after plunging into the scene, Big Yasa has delivered his debut EP, ‘Biggs’. Driven by punchy drums, he gives a mantric delivery as he dives into grizzly and textured verses. Compiling rage, joy, and hope into a 5 track project, Big Yasa makes it clear he is not about to stop reigning the streets. Interlude is a 14-second sample from a Skillibeng interview serving as an encouragement to his fans. The slow, melodic tune serving as the intro is comforting as the harmonious piano keys bring serenity, anointing Big Yasa as the voice of the streets while urging the youth that better days are yet to come.

The word breakthrough perfectly describes everything about Wasp. From the opening chorus about dedication to his hard-hitting 808s that make you feel you are chanting after him in a concert. Wasp builds up momentum for the tape. The guitar strings open the track with Big Yasa chanting his famous catchphrase “Mahd Clad.. 8side Westside”, an identity to his home Kibera. It is undeniable that Big Yasa knows how to grab and hold your attention as the entire sonic landscape has you anticipating what the tape holds. Big Yasa seems to be coming to terms with his flaws as he states he wasn’t born rapping but had to learn how to do so.


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Crystal Clear is an ode to all with dreams and aspirations, and still doubles up as something close to a gangsta love song. When the song careens into eardrums with its bass backdrops, it’s obvious listeners are in for an aggro treat. Big Yasa’s lyrical ability seems to evolve as he has mastered his cadence controlling his speed while still delivering hard knocking punches. Lil Bro is a dedication to his little brother. The overpowering aggression dripping from the keys and deep bass is accentuated by the most effortless production.

Halal Haram is an introspective song on a drill tune, something you rarely hear. The chorus highlights Big Yasa’s conundrum of making music despite it being considered wrong in his religion. His ravishing hunger to succeed is put in the spotlight as his voice gets heavier and darker. It is no doubt he has a knack for storytelling, as he delivers head-bumping verses that incorporate the cynicism and braggadocio fans expect and love. As the drums switch around at the halfway point and the hi-hats begin to fire at double speed, Big Yasa speeds up to a furious, machine gun pace that carries the second half weightlessly.

‘Biggs’ is a reflection of Big Yasa’s time in the industry. From a young boy who struggled to find his voice on a beat to a full-grown artist who has the streets quoting bars from his songs. As he has managed to step out into his light and create his image, so has he done with the music he puts out. Despite this, Big Yasa still has a long way to go as he transverses the hip-hop streets. As a first project release, this is only the beginning of a young star writing his legacy one quotable bar at a time.

Listen to ‘Biggs’ EP by Big Yasa here.