Are you back in Kenya for good? Or were you deported?
No, I was not deported. I’m back indefinitely. I was here in December for a visit, then I had to go back and handle a few things; but now I’m here.
Were you keeping up with events, especially in music, when you were away?
As much as I could. You know I’m a fan and guys would send me new stuff and sounds and I’m happy with it. There’s a certain mood, people want more and guys are certainly working. We are not at zero and that’s a good thing. The industry is alive.
What did you miss the most?
Just the whole vibe. I don’t know how to describe it. A lot has changed and I’m impressed. One of the things I remember when we started doing this is that getting royalties was a dream. No one used to get royalties. But now people are getting revenue streams; there’s Skiza, people are getting millions to perform, and endorsements. There are some guys who are really pushing and that’s good to see. But I missed my sister and niece the most.
In your new song, ‘Now You Know’, you address many issues. It feels like you wanted to get stuff off your chest; was that so?
It was definitely cathartic. I felt I needed to say some things. Like the ‘Naija Night’ thing has always puzzled me. I needed to mention a few things and I know the third verse has definitely caused some commotion.
Have you read the comments about the song on YouTube?
I’ve read a few; I’m not going to lie and say I don’t read comments. I do so that I can see whether guys appreciate the product. So far the response has been good. People seem to agree with what I have to say.
Why are you dissing King Kaka and Flavour?
Flavour; that was directed towards the whole Nigerian situation. The only reason I used “Ada Ada” is because the syllables fit in the line perfectly. I don’t know him personally. I was just addressing the whole atmosphere. Now the King Kaka thing, it’s just… that is such a reach. (Laughs) like that is ridiculous.
I like his music, I respect him as a writer and I have nothing but positive things to say about him. He did a song two years ago called We Miss Them. I’m not too aloof that I don’t know what is going on here when I’m in the States. I heard what he said. He said people miss me, why would I again... I’m not into beefing. It was just fans’ reactions.
Will you ever curtain raise for a Nigerian artiste?
No. Unless I’m being paid more than him.
You talk about pioneers in the industry being forgotten. Isn’t that a natural progression of things; or in with the new, out with the old kind of thing?
It’s a bit of both. As a pioneer you can’t hold on to the spotlight forever. It’s normal that every generation wants to have their own heroes.
That’s why I never want to be that guy who complains that these new guys are not rapping, or that what they’re doing isn’t music. No. I appreciate all of them and I listen and I like it.
But when it’s bad you have to call them out, right?
When it is bad, yes I will. But as far as pioneers go, the appreciation for them in other countries is definitely more like a positive culture. But when you see a story about a pioneer here, it would most likely be about how he is broke or on drugs, you know. So that’s one thing I was like, wow; is this how everyone ends up?
Have you ever been on drugs?
I can just picture the headline right now: ‘Former Kleptomaniac member, 32, struggling and on drugs, releases new song’ (laughs). No, I’ve never been on drugs.
Did you completely take a break from music?
I’ve been writing a few songs here and there that people don’t know about, but before Now You Know, it had been a long time since I’d rapped. I can’t let go of music; I’m passionate about it.
What were you doing when you were not writing music?
I was working.
Rumours had it you were a watchman
No. I got a job driving trucks. I did that for a while and then after that I was able to start my own small business there and that’s what I’ve been handling.
In months to come, will you be releasing more music?
No, I was just doing this one then I go. (Laughs). I’m kidding. I’ve thought about it for a long time, it’s a responsibility. There’s a story in the Bible where people are given talents and some bury them — you know the story?
Yes, the parable of the talents.
So as long as you’re given a gift by God, you have to use it positively. I’ll do music as long as guys will allow me to sing and rap for them, as long as I have strength and good health. I really enjoy making music, not just rapping.
I equally enjoy singing, writing songs for people, directing, engineering, production, and I enjoy art. I know the bug will always come back. Even if I stay away for 10 years, I’ll still feel like, you know what, I need to make music. I don’t think that will ever change.
Do you miss Kleptomaniacs?
I’m with them. But I do miss the whole brotherhood, camaraderie and bouncing ideas off each other. It’s been many years, people have grown older and they have families. But we still get together, we are still cool and those are my guys.
Is there a chance Klepto will release one final song?
Of course there is.
Did music back then earn you a living?
Yes it did, but not as good as it is now. People could live off music but you had to be among the top 10 guys to make something.
You did not come back with an accent
(Laughs) I don’t know what to say to that.