Sharma Boy is a Somali rapper, singer, songwriter, and dancer based in the Horn of Africa. His musical practice melds traditional Somali poetry and Somali musical influences with his own unique Hip-Hop and Rap style. His experiences growing up in an environment of political instability in Mogadishu, Somalia are mirrored in his music: His songs explore societal issues that Somalis across the globe struggle with and include messages of peace, love, and unity. Sharma is a full-time working artist and has performed in Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Ethiopia to audiences in the tens of thousands. The Djibouti President recently honored Sharma with an award for his artistry and activism. He is now considered by many to be the most influential Somali artist of this generation.
In the Somali music scene, there is perhaps no bigger marker of success than an artist or group’s performance on the Internet platform YouTube. The trend of turning almost exclusively to YouTube for the distribution and consumption of Somali music was a result of political unrest and, ultimately, the outbreak of civil war in Somalia. The rise in power of militants and oppressive leadership led to censorship and the systematic suppression of Somali music - an art form with a legacy as a powerful tool for communication, social change, community organizing, and dissent of corrupt power in Somalia. Artists and musicians fled the country and many stopped practicing altogether because they feared retaliation by warlords and corrupt government officials. The emergence of YouTube in the 2000s allowed Somali artists to share their music publicly, freely, and throughout the world without the need for a market-based industry to record and distribute their work.
In this context, Sharma Boy is a superstar. Sharma Boy joined YouTube in October 2019 and has so far accumulated over 130 million views across his songs. His song, “Deesha Dheela,” released in 2020, catapulted his success internationally. Sharma Boy also collaborated with Somali Hollywood Star K’naan on two singles that have racked tens of millions of views on the platform.