Eswatini is popularly known as one of the few remaining absolute monarchies in the world. Musically, it is known for the legendary MTN Bushfire Festival and while you may not be able to name an artist offhand, there are a number of talented musicians in and from the country.
One of those is Amrig, a musician who believes his main purpose on his musical journey is to inspire. Born Siwakhile Dlamini, Amrig is an independent Swatii rapper and songwriter who is currently based in Iowa in America.
“With every single release, I aim to break all barriers and inspire through my creative channels in a bid to show people nothing is impossible,” he told me when we sat down for a catch-up.
“My life is like a script already written with an incredible ending, and I feel fortunate to be living it,” he replied when I ask how his moniker came about. An acronym for “Allow My Rise Into Greatness”, Amrig continues saying, “I’ve always felt like I was destined to dominate whatever I do, so choosing a name that reflects that is important to me. It’s like every single time, my name is said in a room, it is manifesting that ending for me.”
Painting his real-life experiences and feelings with his lyrics, Amrig shifts effortlessly from loud hip hop bangers like “Night Boomerang”, to a more tender track like “Star”.
“My experiences definitely drive my music. From what I go through on a day-to-day, to my favourite artists, to my thoughts, to conversations I have with my friends–we have some really insightful conversations,” he says.
Amrig was interested in music from an early age, flexing his piano-playing skills at church. “I was not determined to take rap seriously up until I attended a career fair and met LO who was with Swazi Jive,” he elaborates, pointing out that when it comes to songwriting, he doesn’t follow a particular routine, but usually comes up with the melody first before penning the lyrics.
His debut music video for the aforementioned track, “Star”, was the first time he felt like things were shifting explaining, “Man! Star is a very special record. It embodies everything I believe in, so having the chance to package those ideals in one song and let the world understand how I perceive my journey and purpose was a special moment.”
“It is definitely a manifestation. I want to look back at that record in 10-15 years and be like ‘I KNEW IT. It’s going to be a great full circle moment,” he smiles.
Preparing to release his first full-length project called Off-Kilter, Amrig has dropped three singles in anticipation, the third of which is called “Breakout” and sees the rapper exude inspirations of Isaiah Rashad, Saba and Vince Staples in his two verses, which are tied together with a catchy hook.
Having spent most of his life in Manzini in eSwatini, Amrig echoes how tired he is of the narrative that one needs to follow the cycle of eat-sleep-repeat for an apparent way to succeed at life, and the artwork, which displays pieces of broken glass, reinforces the idea of him breaking that glass ceiling.
Everything about Amrig’s journey has been unorthodox–I mean who leaves eSwatini for Iowa–and hopefully it’s an indication that he’ll continue blazing his own trail and taking calculated risks that reap rewards.