UPDATE: 23, May 2014. Smallz Lethal’s album now available on itunes; Common Mwananchi
Washamba Wenza is a hip hop movement with roots in Dandora. “This is the Life” is a collaborative track between the studios/hiphop families of G’Ganji, Audio Kusini and A-World, featuring an instrumental by Ken Ring. Check out more music from Washamba Wenza, G’Ganji and Audio Kusini/Kusini Recordz. You can download this classic hapa.
UPDATE (28 July 2013): Check out the new track from G’Ganji, Washamba Wenza and Ananda A-World, WASTE NO TIME (free download).
1. What inspired you to write your verses for “This is the Life”?
Smallz Lethal (Mshamba Mwenza):
yeah man..we cn neva b too busy bro..first, 4 my verse..that is almst the deepest verse av ever written, the kind of meditation we had was maad man. basicaly,i was reffering to hiphop as a person, leting her knw how much impact she has on me n how am gonna b loyal to her..
2 my side n as i know hiphop is life, n i simply referred to life as a teacher where i said that thru him, wen i woz a kid, i knew how to tighten my shoe lases when i run not 2 fall…lyfstyles also differ in that we gat hoods livin ths way so in our hood its diffrent and…’this is the life innawi yard!’
Flamez (Mshamba Mwenza):
Flamez Mshamba Mwenza
For the verses my part was actually time am basically writing how i see and feel about stuff.
2. How did G’Ganji, Audio Kusini and A-World come together on this track?
Flamez: ON THIS TRACK it was mainly A World and Audio Kusini on Ken rings beat
3. You guys have been putting out high quality music for some time now. What directions do you see the future of hip hop in East Afrika headed in?
Flamez: Its growing and for me there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel
4. How can fans check out your music and support your movement?
Qama is a hip hop artist working in Nairobi. You can watch his music videos on his youtube channel, stream and download his music on soundcloud and reverbnation, and connect with him on his facebook page or on twitter.
UPDATE: 10 October 2013. New music from Qama, Ace Tha Don & Voodooseller – Safari.
1. Share some of your mistari and talk about where they came from, what they talk about, what inspired u to write them.
Huu mziki talanta kuikuza kama ile maisha safari
Panda shuka mingi kwa hii fani kibaharia kwa bahari
Mi ni nabii kama yule mtume japo sikuzaliwa kwa jori
Records everyday noble ari kiWangari na nobel
Kwa ajili yako tu tunacheza kwetu bila kutuzwa,bila label!
Am so able kama kingo mafungu mingi shinda kitabu ufunuo
Mafunzo vast knowledge bahari on a soul searching mission
So leo kama jana nimefungua kibanda ndo nipate my portion
ya tis money
na scarse ni hizi senti hard kupata kama kubusu nyuki upate asali
Maskio leteni kwangu ni wape elimu mi ndo kaisari
Kuniskiza mkiwa low kunicheza mkiwa na chore kuwaliwaza panapo majonzi
Kuwapunguzia mawazo na kuwapa matumaini baada ya dhiki faraja
Baada ya dhoruba jua lita waka kuwapa raha
Ningekua kigoli kwenu ningekua namba moja
Kila uchao kwa uso zenu naacha tabasamu lililofana
mtanicheza kanisani mtanicheza kwenye mazishi,kwenye densi
Hospitalini kisa na maana mi ndo dawa
This are my lines of a song called ”Music.” in the lines am relating myself to a prophet yet I was born in no manger, [talking about] the many challenges that come with nurturing this talent. We (artists) try so hard to educate people in vain just like the prophets but we still give hope to people in times of joy, sorrow… that after the rain the sun will shine and that’s (my music) will be played when people are doing chores, in funerals, in church…its just music.
2. Where are you from, What was it like growing up?
I got roots in Kenya and Uganda..In Nairobi I rep 87 and South C. I dint grow up in the city, life wasn’t that easy being brought up by a single mother but in way we always pulled through I guess its by the grace of God.
3. What kind of hustles were people involved in?
There were many hustles it depended with an individual. Others used to play football and get [paid], others sell drugs like opium, sell phones(second hand), buy and sell clothes, even sell pirated music.
4. What does hip hop mean to you, What made you get involved in Hip Hop?
Hip Hop is a genre of music that involves the rhythmical creation of beauty through rapping. According to me though it is a culture of how we live and relate to one another eventually expressing it through poetry, pictures, art, and dance.
5. What do the words ‘kazi’, ‘vijana’ and ‘mshamba’ mean to you?
Kazi means work, vijana-youth, mshamba is this person from the village who comes to the city, also some will refer to mshamba as one who has no idea of certain norms or routines.
6. What is ‘politicking’?
It may refer to the drumming of political support especially if one is a politician.
7. What is ‘mental slavery’?
I think it is when people hold on to false beliefs, which in many cases they are made to.
8. Can you say anything about the youth drug problems in Kenya?
Drug problems among the youth in Kenya [are] greatly influenced by peer pressure or idleness, or trying to be ‘cool,’ some do it out of life’s frustrations.
9. Who/What is promoting violence, who/what has lessened violence?
Many, at times violence is triggered by politicians especially when they divide people along tribal lines 😦 The people themselves have quit fighting because they noticed it just brings self-destruction. NGOs too have tried to sensitize the communities against violence.
10. How are hiphop artists making money from their music today?
Artists are making money by selling their mixtapes, lps, merchandise like t-shirts, going for shows….
11. How do politics and your own personal values impact your work?
Politics affect my music in one way or the other, in turn am forced to speak against the social ills in the society which come with bad politics.
12. Besides rappers, who else do you see ‘doing’ hip hop, other artists, deejays, dancers, graffiti artists, activists, hustlas, etc. ?
Graffiti artists, dancers and some deejays.
13. Name your favorite musical artists, who are you listening to sasa ?
aint stuck on one artist or particular artists but people who make good and timeless music which anyone can relate to. Let me name but a few; kendrick lamar, Lupe fiasco, Immortal technique, Jay Z, Snow goons, Washamba wenza, Xcalibur Shahidi, Ace the god Apollo, Nemesis aka man njoro, Kimya Miyaki….I cant name them all.
14. What are some obstacles you have encountered during your involvement in the hip hop scene(s)?
Mostly its financial challenges like money not be available all the time for a quality production both audio and visual. Also some media personalities who dont relate to Hip hop intentionally dont play the songs you give em.
15. Why do you think there aren’t as many femcees?
Maybe because the hip hop scene has been dominated by male artists some femcees shy off to stand for what they believe in.
16. How have women contributed to hip hop in East Africa?
😀 giving birth to this amazing artists around.
17. What can you say about any community hip hop projects helping young people today, that you know of or are involved with?
I know of Hip Hop for peace which is usually organised by G’Ganji records and The Bus Radio, Sarakasi Trust also organize a couple of events at the Sarakasi Dome [in] Nairobi.
18. Could you describe some positive things you have seen hip hop communities doing? Whether it is artists sharing resources, a place to stay, getting linked with work
The greatest of all is that mental support artists give each other and the hope they give to the society through music..I’ve seen people relate to music with a positive message or situations similar to theirs.
19. 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)
Am finalizing my debut album called Mwanzo Mpya (Genesis). Also planning for more videos starting next month and marketing my music. Hip hop as genre of music can be taken as a job which pays if only the house is in order.
20. What are some of the obstacles/problems facing young people in Kenya today (zote, Lodwar to Dando to Westi?)
Mainly its peer pressure, drug abuse and for the less fortunate I think its is the poor living conditions at home.
21. How are you interacting with artists across the globe and also particularly in East Afrika?
I have done some collaborations with two; Madish from South Africa and EMC from Tanzania. In Kenya I have featured a couple; Smallz Lethal(Washamba Wenza), Kev Mamba(Washamba Wenza), Latisha aka Laty, Mo, Xcalibur Shahidi, Kuru GB, Chacha…
22. What sort of positive things do you see happening with young people in Kenya?
Young people nowadays have learnt to appreciate whatever talent they have and the society has [embraced] that.
23. How can people learn more about your work, music, performances and projects you are involved in?
people can also like my fanpage:www.facebook.com/QamaKE or follow my twitter handle for updates @Qama_KE
my facebook account is http://www.facebook.com/mahlon.quintine.1
People can also search my videos on youtube ‘Mwanzo Mpya‘and ‘Shilingi‘ or subscribe to my channel ‘qamamusic‘
24. please give a brief bio of uaself.
Born in the late 80’s,been doing music for nine years but my peak was this year  where I had to take music seriously and express maturity in content. I basically do hip hop and spoken word in Swahili, English or a mixture of the two but you’ll notice most of my tracks are in Swahili. I find it to be a beautiful language. My inspiration is derived from the life we live, the people I interact with, issues in our social setting and the dreams I have. Music is the soul’s therapy that’s how I see it.
Update – 24 January 2013 Check out Qama’s new track “Something you need to know” feat. Kev Mamba and Smallz Lethal of Washamba Wenza.
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.