Sniper SP is a producer at G’Ganji Records in Rongai. He is one of the most hardworking and prolific hip hop producers in Kenya. You can find his work on reverbnation and youtube. You can follow him on twitter and check out his facebook group.
Shupav – Judge & Washamba Wenza (prod. by Sniper SP)
Share some of your mistari and talk about where they came from, what they talk about, what inspired u to write them.
Ni nazidi kupanda ladder/
Hakuna kulala ni bidii nasaka mkwanja na/
Veins ndio mimi nitakaza/
Mpaka siku ntakufa mi ntazidi ku fight harder/
They are from a song I wrote like a year ago talking about how I will keep on struggling and never will I give up until I achieve my dreams. Hoping anyone listen to it will it gather the same faith and therefore making it an inspirational song.
Where are you from, What was it like growing up?
I was brought up in Eastliegh but I have spent most of my music works in O’Rongai. I spent my tender age in the ghetto, struggling to survive because I didn’t grow up in a rich family. I remember being sent away from school many times because of lack of school fees. I even remember living in a church when I was 9 years. And at most times I have survived with one meal I day. I had to work as a computer tutor to buy a computer with this specs; p3 processor 400mhz harddisk 10gb ram 128mb – to start this studio I have [G Ganji Records] you can tell i went through by just looking into my eyes.
What kind of hustles were people involved in?
Like at a time I was selling calling cards for ‘Orange Network’ in the streets and getting 10 shillings after selling 10 cards. People sell secondhand-secondhand clothes in the streets. We used to collect used plastics and metal and sell.
What does hip hop mean to you, What made you get involved in Hip Hop?
Hiphop is creative art. It is the platform where artists express their creative minds. Like for instance graffiti, djying, breakdancing or rap. The life I was raised made me stand up and use my talents in all means to fight for change and I already feel that’s part of Hiphop. Why should I join rnb or dancehall and brother is crying in Hiphop.
What do the words ‘kazi’, ‘vijana’ and ‘mshamba’ mean to you?
Vijana are the youths of mature age capable of being employed. Kazi is struggle the vijana put to generate income. It may be generated in different ways with the different capacity and ability. Mashamba on the other hand is what people call those who have grown in the rural regions and have embraced the rural way of life as compared to the urban one.
What is ‘politicking’?
This is involving work with the impunity politics brings it. It can also mean the way people analyze the game politicians play in the media of governance.
What is ‘mental slavery’?
It’s whereby you are not free.
I think this means being unreasonably rigid with some facts in the mind. It is fixing the mind to a given fact and the inability to alter that fact on different grounds
Can you say anything about the youth drug problems in Kenya?
Drug abuse among the youth is not only a predicament in Kenya but also all over the world. They usually introduce themselves. They reduce their life span, exposing themselves to potential risks that may even [cost] them their lives. If only these youths could find a way they can participate in community development, such abuses could not be heard as [vigorously] as it is being heard these days.
Who/What is promoting violence, who/what has lessened violence?
Incitement and tribalism is what I truly believe are the main causes of violence in Kenya. It is a pity to hear a friend you have grown with for a long time, involve himself with such an act. Politics is what I fear brings about the incitement and tribalism. You will find a group of two, three or more gathered together criticizing the Kenyan politics instead of [thinking] about the opportunities they have in investments. The youths have gathered together to counter the misery. Events  being the instrument, they have been campaigning for peace around the country, preaching to the others, mostly their fellow youth to maintain peace and become conscious of the choices they make.
How are hiphop artists making money from their music today?
Hip hop artists in Kenya dedicate themselves in producing their music and I find it true that they put the same in their hustle. Intellectual property has protected they creative skills and it is from there that they sell their creativity. This is just but one way; they (artists) may be called to perform or manage events or advertisement in the corporate world.
How do politics and your own personal values impact your work?
Politics involves the government and the government as the legislators, protects the copyright. I still don’t feel satisfaction on how our leaders protect and enforce the copyright. Corruption is mainly the cause of the prejudice, and it will be difficult for our music industry to develop with such practice still in force.
I always work with my instincts. The best always comes from heart and I believe appreciation will lead as consequence. Doubting yourself is the [worst] thing that can happen to you. People should know you as you are and that is from where success begins.
Besides rappers, who else do you see ‘doing’ hip hop, other artists, dancers, graffiti artists, activists, hustlas, etc. ?
Hip hop is bigger than what most people see it to be. Beadwork [Shambalas] is another way of promoting hip hop through the diverse artistic work. We also see painters, poets and even initiatives contributing a lot to Hiphop.
Name your favorite musical artists, who are you listening to sasa?
Charon Don, The Late Guru, Immortal Technique, Tech N9ne, Khaligraph, Ace tha Don, Washamba Wenza, Nas, 2pac…
What are some obstacles you have encountered during your involvement in the hip hop scene(s)?
People don’t just raise steeply at a go. You will have to start with believing yourself but on the way, from what I have experienced, you will encounter enmity as one of the obstacles caused from today’s competitive market. Most artists are from slums and ghettos making them poor of which paying studio times becomes impossible at times. And even the price rates of recording/ studio times becomes too low to suite most artistes.
Why do you think there aren’t as many femcees?
To success, people have to struggle and most of the femcees consider it difficult in promoting their music, thereby losing their interest in music. There is also the mentality that men always dominate in the industry. I believe that women are as capable as men and therefore can produce good music.
[Check out Shikow na Samantha’s “Good Times” music video, produced by Sniper SP]
How have women contributed to hip hop in East Africa?
The number of female artists in East Africa is few as compared to men, and having women in the industry encourages others to involve themselves. You find that women need to express themselves too so when they are given a change, Hiphop becomes stronger.
What can you say about the Mau Mau kambi, are there any similar community hip hop projects helping young people today?
Yeah like St. Mikes, Kalahari Jeshi, YGB and am even started mine called ‘Kambi Kuu’ whereby artists come together and share ideas and socialize.
What type of community organizations, informal or formal are helping vijana in East Africa leo?
Most of the organizations are campaigning for peace as they involve them in community activities. I appreciate the effort they put in educating the youths on the developing world and promoting their talents like in sports. These organizations also have supported and sponsored local events that have invited artists to perform and demonstrate their skills.
Could you describe some positive things you have seen hip hop communities do? Whether it is artists sharing resources, a place to stay, getting linked with work etc.
there are many artists I know that play and manage football teams that interact with teams from other regions. Not only will you hear peace as the theme from their friendly meeting, but also from other events where they are called to perform. I have witnessed hip hop artists involving themselves in charity work, cleaning garbage in slums, feeding the less privilege and also leading in blood donation.
What hustles are you working on now? is there such a thing as hip hop jobs? ama only hustling? (Talk about any of your projects, musical or otherwise)
I organized a couple of events in clubs and halls here in Nairobi, and planning more, it’s just at times it’s hard to raise the money, and again it’s hard to get sponsors with the name HIPHOP. I cant say there aren’t jobs in hiphop, because of course we see people selling street wear clothlines, shambalas, mixtapes and albums, but its not that easy. Its still hustling because you find that you are selling to a brother who is also from the same background/ poor.
What are some of the obstacles/problems facing young people in Kenya today (zote, Lodwar to Dando to Westi?)
Unemployment is what I consider the main obstacle in Kenya. Most of the youths [have] potential but have no channel to express their skills. Mismanagement in many instances has caused loss of jobs and opportunities in many institutions and organizations involving the young people. Committing themselves in crime is the worst activity as heavy criminal penal penalty or also costing them lives, lead as consequence.
How are you interacting with artists across the globe and also particularly in East Afrika?
Technology and the social world are growing and reaching the very local sectors. These have been the main channels for connection and interactions apart from posting songs and profiles in the internet. Events have also led artists to meet and interact, having a chance to exchange ideas and associate in constructing an ideal collaboration/invention.
What sort of positive things do you see happening with young people in Kenya?
Struggle that bears success is the greatest thing that can happen to anyone. Involvement in peace campaigns and nurturing the young talents has upheld the intelligence and capability of the young people in Kenya.
How can people learn more about your work, music, performances and projects you are involved in?
I have a link in most of the social media, i.e. facebook & twitter, from where I post my activities and works I have both completed and are about to be released. i rarely miss hip hop events happening around the region where I meet greater and potential artists.