Review and Interview by Mocha!
Mocha: Thank you for doing this e-lnterview Wawesh.
Wawesh: Tuko Pamoja! (Unite we stand, divided we fall)
M: So, other than you being a Kenyan abroad, what was your main inspiration for this album?
W: Making a difference.
M: Ok…! Since “Mjanja” was released into the mainstream followed by “Wawero”, why did it take you so long to release the album?
W: Perhaps it feels that long, but taking into account that project Wawesh only started less than 2 years ago. The album was pretty much done by mid 2005 and the strategy was to officially introduce myself by dropping “Mjanja” which was around November 2005 and “Wawero” in February 2006. Then followed by the debut album “It’s Meant To Be…” in April 2006 starting in Kenya. I therefore believe that things have moved faster than one would imagine.
M: Yes, time flies when you are having fun. As I’m sure the process of this album was. You experimented with a lot of music genres in your album, was this intentional or just coincidence?
W: Very much intentional. I think that urban music today far to often tend to clone itself and even though I know there is a lot of people out there with great ideas, the media and the industry have created a funnel and filter in which culture is processed without original content. In order to give a fair answer, I ‘II have to take it back a bit. I first started of as a rapper before venturing into production and later both as I am today. Back then I used to strive to sound like other artists I used to look up to. Black Thought, Nas, Biggie, Snoop, to name a few. In my teens, I went through some identity crisis where I questioned myself on why I was put on this earth. I came to the conclusion regarding music that I was just a copy of a Black American and the lyrics I was telling through my early days of music weren’t purely mine. I therefore laid rap to rest for many years until I was mature enough to look within myself and found my story and voice on which my album is based on. The 20 tracks features exactly everything I had to say in regards to my intentions.
M: Your album is quite long with 20 tracks on it. How many songs didn’t make it to the final cut?
W: I wanted to fill the CD up space wise because it was important for me to show the listener the numerous ways one can go about in expressing and creating music. I have no other tracks that didn’t make the album either, so what is found on the album is what I had to say.
M: Ok! How would you categorize your album in the international music genre? And why?
W: My music is uncompromising. I refuse to belong to any specific genre because when looking at myself as a listener, I enjoy different types of music. So, it’s only natural that when creating my music, I shouldn’t limit or prevent myself to express in the many various ways that I was born with.
M: Of the artists signed to your recording label, BlaO Entertainment, who has an album out and where can it be purchased or previewed?
W: JAQEE, who is originally from Uganda, has a Grammy nominated album called “Blaqalixious” which is available for purchase on her site http://www.jaqee.com
M: In relation to the previous question, are there any more artists based abroad or in Kenya that you are working with on future projects?
W: Yes! To name a few, there is Ingel Chanta, Kamau Weaver, Diehard, Mc Patow, Geraldo, Watu Wangu Collective and Joan Perry.
M: On your recent trip to Kenya to release your album, how was the reception and did Kenyans love your album now that they got to hear more songs from you?
W: This time round it was all about capitalizing on all the work we have put in previously and during our previous trip. The main focus was to launch the album and getting it as much exposure as we could. Shipping – or rather clearing, the CDs at customs proved to be the most time consuming and frustrating task of our trip on this occasion. Let me break it down. We air freighted a large quantity of the album via UPS – a company we initially had great confidence in. They arrived in Jomo Kenyatta Airport same day we did 20th April, but due to bureaucracy, red-tape plus inefficiency on the part of our shipping agent (UPS – Consider It NOT Done) we were unable to clear these until our departure day 3 weeks later! To be honest, we probably spent more time at the Nairobi UPS office than anywhere else trying to get things moving in getting the CDs cleared. Fortunately, we had been smart enough to pack our suitcases with ample quantities as a contingency measure. I had my album launch at the infamous Carnivore grounds during the 5th annual Chaguo La Teeniez – Kenya’s most celebrated awards event. Team Wawesh arrived on two ‘Mkokoteni’ pushcarts!!! A stunt that was loved by the public whom in previous years had become accustomed to seeing artists make grand entrances in Limos, hi-spec motorbikes and even a Helicopter! I was highly commended on bringing things back to earth and choosing a traditional form of local transport that many often look down upon. My ‘grand’ entrance made media news – including TV, and helped further catapult the brand via word of mouth. As per previous trips, I also did a radio tour and appeared or was heard on various media like Metro FM , Capital FM, Citizen Radio, Nation TV, KTN/Straight up, The Standard/Pulse, Phat Buzz, Going Out Guide, etc. I also had a signing of the album at the Nu Metro Media store (The Junction, Ngong Road), where a week earlier the international award winning Kenyan hip hop docu-film “Hip hop Colony” had premiered. On most evenings we would hit different Nairobi clubs including current hotspots like Rezuras, Tropez, Chillers, Ibiza, Florida 2000, etc., where I performed songs from my album to an audience that surprisingly already knew the lyrics. It was always a great response and thus always a great feeling. We also spent plenty time on walking the streets of Nairobi, riding in matatus, meeting people, selling CDs and generally making our presence felt. We also spoke regularly with artists like STL, Abas/Doobiez, Ukoo Flaani Mau Mau, Bamzi, Mashifta, Kantai, Duplex Studios, DJ Stone, Boomba Clan, Nonini, etc. Can’t say too much other than look out for the documentary we continued to shoot whilst we were out and about. I’d like to thank all the people whom showed love and support to me, from the fans that I met daily to the media personnel that extended their support. Much love to the rest of Team Wawesh in Kenya, akina Lisa, Prestige, Ellis, Celia, Cynthia, Phylis, MC Patow, Alvin aka Die Hard, Njoroge, Sam, Carol who went all out and made many things possible. Special shout-outs to DJs from Code Red, MOB, Blackstar, Homeboyz, YFM, Capital, Kiss, Metro, etc., and all individual DJs for showing love.
M: I am glad the launch went well and the reception was exceptional, despite the customs issue. On that same note, are you planning to do a tour in the UK/Europe and the USA to promote your album to Kenyans and the international community?
M: When will all this take place?
W: We are busy in the early stages of planning the tour, so I can’t say much at this moment in time.
M: Ok! In the meantime, is your album available to be purchased anywhere in the world via the web or in music stores? Or have you go other plans of how to sell your music?
W: This is also something else that we are trying to sort out. I am looking at different ways of selling the album via my website, making it available to the world. Keep checking http://www.wawesh.com for updates.
M: A frequently asked question. What advice would you give to an individual who is trying to make it in the music industry?
W: People will always need music in some form. Ask yourself why you were put in this world and if you listen hard enough in time the answer will be clear. Dare people and let go of the impression that someone else (the music industry) is going to realize your dreams. Why not create your own destiny? Believe that you can make it happen!
M: Nice piece of advice. While listening to your album, a few tracks stood out and I picked out a few that I wanted you to give an individual insight on.
W: “Heka Heka” – This is a tribute for East Africa. It’s a song meant to inspire and celebrate where I from.
“Answer” – This song is a dedication to my mother, the late Lucy Njeri Kiboy. It is one of the songs where I get very personal about myself and my background. Plus, it reveals my frustration towards the hardship my family and I have gone through.
“Homesick” – This track is self-explanatory. The song also raises questions why sometimes we change for the worse when moved out to a different country.
“Mjanja” – This was meant to be sort of a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ kind of entering a scene. The word Mjanja (smart, thief or con) has different meanings depending on whom you ask. Therefore, I found it to be the best way to infiltrate and then start spreading my message from within.
“Poa” – is a love tale about young people falling in love. On the song, I am describing the love game from a guy’s perspective and I think that it’s a breath of fresh air hearing a jamaa (man) thinking and urging others not to rush into love.
M: Finally, what are your future plans? Will you release more solo projects or will you continue working with other artists?
W: Another reason for releasing “It’s Meant To Be…” was to show that action speaks louder than words. That if I’m able to make a difference and be part of the African music scene, I should first set an example. I would prefer helping others to begin with and later on if I’m blessed with another collection of thoughts and ideas to share with the world; it’s not a far step to the studio.
“Usinidharau….I’m from the land of Mau Mau. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m meant to be…” (Ulaya – Track 20)