Hip-Hop Dips into Haqeeba in the Debut EP from Mvndila – ‘HYDR’

23-year-old Mvndila articulates the emotional complexity of being a young Sudanese man navigating the modern maze of life in his debut EP

Hip-Hop Dips into Haqeeba in the Debut EP from Mvndila – ‘HYDR’
Menna Shanab

“The more personal my content, the more precise I am in its presentation,” reflects Mvndila on his debut EP, ‘HYDR.’ Candid about his craft, the Sudanese singer/songwriter’s words echo throughout the EP, an intimate musical journey that captures the life of a young man navigating through his personal and cultural experiences.

His is a journey that began in Saudi Arabia, punctuated by the harmonious echoes of Haqeeba and legendary singer Mahmoud Abdulaziz. With a father and grandfather as guides, Mvndila began to tune into the frequency and language of Sudan’s traditional sounds. “My father first brought Haqeeba into my life, introducing me to the genre at home,” he recalls. “My personal blend of Haqeeba and hip-hop comes from my grandfather, a poet whose work has been used in Haqeeba music and has influenced my own writing style.” It is a unique fusion – an ode to the generational legacy of music and poetry in his family. “It started as a semi-conscious decision but evolved over time into my unique style today,” he says.

The streets, however, sang a different tune, “In Saudi Arabia, I was introduced to rap in the early days and found myself on music blogs discovering artists like Klash.” Rap’s rebellious spirit would colour his worldview, expanding his sonic landscape and giving birth to an amalgamation of sound that uniquely speaks to his cross-cultural experience. However, it was his move back to Sudan that truly catalyzed his musical journey. “I first encountered Sudanese rap through Nas Jota when I moved back, and my musical exploration expanded from there,” he reminisces.

When the world plunged into a pandemic, Mvndila found himself at the precipice of self-reflection and transformation. The EP was born from the quiet lull of this introspective period. “The production process for ‘HYDR’ was unconventional,” he recalls. The songs, each a chapter in Mvndila’s personal journey, were penned before any beats were created, resulting in a collaborative effort that pulled in the talents of various producers. “It was about creating the perfect sound for the song based on the direction we wanted. Every track is truly a team project and the result is a testament to all of us giving and taking from each other,” he says.


The EP dropped on July 14, 2023 and is the culmination of his cross-cultural upbringing and his knack for genre-bending music. Meticulously crafted over two years, this debut EP is a celebration of his artistry and the diverse musical influences he has harnessed over the years. The EP was recorded in the cultural heartland of Sudan, with the production crossing borders to studios in Egypt, UAE, and Malaysia.

“HYDR” is not just an expression of artistry; it’s also a beacon of emotional honesty. “In our society, men are often discouraged from expressing emotions,” he says. “We’re taught that ‘we’re men’ and we can’t say certain things or express in a certain manner, but it’s okay.”  This societal dictum did not deter him. Choosing honesty over stoicism, Mvndila sought to change the narrative with ‘HYDR’, beginning with the inception of his EP during a global pandemic.

It became a conduit for self-expression, a creative space where he explored personal themes such as the war that erupted in Sudan shortly after his departure. “At first, I was hesitant to speak about the war in my music, but eventually I felt a responsibility to do so, so I dropped the single ‘Bob’. I found no other form of release that works for me personally other than music,” he reveals. For him, it’s about resonance, a shared empathy, a silent understanding, “Ultimately as artists, we do have a role as any other person does, and hopefully, with my words, even if one person relates, I’m good.”


The transformative years from 2020 to 2022, during which ‘HYDR’ was written and recorded, are mirrored in the dynamic soundscape of the EP. Tracks like ‘Cinderella’ echo a fast-paced period in Mvndila’s life, while his collaboration on ‘Nyctophilia’ marked a critical point of growth, “Trusting Khayyat, Swish, and Amjd’s vision on ‘intro’ was key for us to reach our collective goal ultimately,” Mvndila reflects.

In the end, ‘HYDR’ is an intimate journey into Mvndila’s life, a complex narrative of the personal and the universal, the cultural and the contemporary. Looking towards the future, Mvndila’s vision extends beyond the scope of his personal journey. “I’m excited about the future of the music scene in Sudan and the MENA region,” he affirms, “I hope I inspire others to express themselves without fear of judgment. This is just the beginning, with more collaborations and music on the way.”

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