Talking about rap and hip hop in Kenya, this Kenyan Kisii ailed Rapper Rajville is definitely one of the top Kenyan hip hop / pop / rnb artistes in the country currently.
Here is a QnA with the Obe Baba hit maker – Raj
What is your earliest memory of music?
I remember when I was little boy in the late 90’s my family was much into Brenda Fassie (Mum) and Lucky Dube (Dad) both South African artistes. My dad, who’d garnered a little popularity in our village, would also play me music from local Kisii ( a tribe from S. Western Kenya where I’m from) artists who had sang about him or mentioned him in their songs. I was at most 7 years old.
How much of a musical history does your family have?
My family has little known musical background. The only recollection my grand mother shared was that her great grand father used to play ‘Obokano’ a stringed traditional Kisii instrument.
What do you remember about the first song you wrote and released?
I remember it was trash haha. Having just been in the city for a few months, fresh from highschool, the first song i recorded was so American-influenced and my ‘twang’ was really annoying now that I think about it. This was in 2012.
Who are your top five artists of all time?
. This is a tough one. Im heavily influenced by Afrian music, hence my style where i fuse Swahili, English and my native Kisii Language. I’d list
1; Fela Kuti from Nigeria
2; Kayamba Africa from Kenya
3; E-sir the late Swahili rapper from from Kenya
4; Dr. Dre is also on the list having influenced me as artist and producer.
5; Wizkid AKA Starboy, from NG is also undoubtly on the list. He inspires me to know that its possible to be internationally successful from Africa.
Honorable mentions include: Kalamashaka; an old-school hip-hop group from Kenya, J cole; AKA from S.A & and the ever controversial Kanye West.
What inspired your music?
My music is mostly inspired by my life. My day to day experiences. Every situation I’m in, good or bad, sad or happy will eventually be documented on a song. My music is like a diary. On ‘Sawa Sawa’ for example, I woke up to a Friday where every aspect on my life seemed Sawa Sawa (‘Okay’ in English) Luckily I had a beat and was in studio earlier that day. To this day, that song has touched so many people lives exceeding my expectations.
What is your writing process like?
My earlier releases were written based on observations and/or experience. In recent times however, for example SUKA ft Wangechi and Fena Gitu, I don’t write. I feel the beat, decide on a concept, wear headphones and flow with the beat off the top. It’s fun, quick and priceless when you play it back.
What is the music scene in Africa like?
African music is vibrant. Most artists are optimistic. The only challenges faced largely by many African artists (myself included) is lack of proper music distribution channels, lack of artist development and management and proper sound engineering, on the part of the music, in comparison to global standards.
What are your thoughts on the industry today?
The African industry today is growing. We are seeing more and more international record companys and labels set base in the African continent. More corporate brands are now investing in musicians having seen the potential and influence of African musicians to its people. Pepsi has for example invested in Wizkid and Tiwa Savage. Safaricom in Kenya is also heavily partnering with artistes like Sauti Sol & Nyashinski to push their brand. AKA from S.A recently became the first African artist to launch his own liqueur line in partnership with a South African alcoholic company earning the title ‘The African Diddy’
Will you move to the USA for your music?
While the USA is seen as the ultimate music destination by so may African artists, I would personally prefer basing my music in Kenya owing to the influence the Kenyan culture has to my music. However I’d love to tour the world, including USA, while selling the African and more so Kenyan culture.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently focused on developing my sound both as an artist and producer. I’m also working on my next BAE2 (Beautiful And Exquisite 2) EP, the first one, BAE EP, having dropped in 2016 after a successful 18 weeks, weekly music release series (every Tuesday) dubbed #BaeTuesday & later in December a launch concert titled BAE Concert at the historic Uhuru Gardens grounds on Kenya’s Independence.ONLY GOD KNOWS THOUGH.
Stream and watch RAJ’s latest track featuring Wangechi & Fena Gitu here:
The truth is there is more than enough love, creative ideas, power, joy, happiness to go around 😘 😘