From getting shout outs from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to rubbing shoulders with showbiz royalty, Stella Mwangi is living the life. BONIFACE NYAGA spoke to the Norway-based Kenyan rapper on life on the fast lane
How often do you come to Kenya?
I used to come back at least four times a year, but I have been really busy lately. I was last home last year, January. But I miss Kenya, my cousins and my cucu’s (grandmother’s) cooking.
I love hosting Kenyans when they come over; they always give me a taste of home. Sauti Sol are coming to Norway (performed in Oslo on October 5), so I look forward to showing them around
What don’t you like about Norway?
In fall and summer the days are really short. It gets dark at around 2pm and it’s a little disorienting.
You got a major shout out from Dwayne Johnson a few weeks back, how did it feel?
I was actually expecting a shout out from Tommy Hilfiger. He has used two of my songs on repeat on his runways and has reached out to me privately.
Getting it from “The Rock” was really overwhelming, it just shows how humble he is. In Hollywood, celebrities typically associate with people at their level yet he put me on his platforms.
When we were recording the song about two years ago we actually joked with my producers, “What if The Rock actually recognised us for putting his name in the lyrics?”
Have you ever met him?
No, but my producers met his girlfriend when they were in LA and she loved my work. That is actually how this whole thing began.
Which is your biggest deal so far?
I was raised to appreciate every single step in life, so I celebrate every milestone in my life. Getting the worldwide campaign for Samsung was a big deal for me, so was having my song play on HBO’s “Insecure” and BET’s “Being Mary Jane” because I love those shows.
My song has also featured on TCB Africa adverts, which is awesome because I love using their products. Sometimes, smaller companies approach me to use my songs in adverts and I also value them in the same way.
What’s the secret to your success?
I work with a great global team that makes things happen. My Norwegian producers Tom Roger (Rogstad) and Joachim Alte aka Kleen Keezy are the most important part of my team.
Sound Set Africa in Nairobi are my management and in Los Angeles, Position Music are my agency for film and TV licensing.
What inspires you to keep going?
My mum always encouraged me to do stuff for myself and never to expect others to hustle for me, because the sweetest food is the one you cook for yourself.
She also taught me that it is more blessed to give than to receive, and she continues to challenge me every single day.
What’s your dream collabo?
That’s tough, my list is really long. I would love to do something with Will.i.am and Dr Dre. My dream is to do an album with Nicki Minaj, Missy Elliot, and probably remix a song by Salt n Pepper, Queen Latifah, Remy Ma, and Lady of Rage.
I have known Wyclef Jean since I was 14 and he has been a big part of my musical journey. We have talked about a collabo but it has never really worked out.
Then there are guys like Akon who are also doing great things for Africa. In July, we actually met at a concert in France and he later called to tell me that he loved my performance.
In Kenya, I would love to do something with Nazizi. She was the first Kenyan female rapper I heard of. I would also love to do something with some of the new acts like Femi One.
You were recently criticised for dressing like Akothe on stage, how did you react to this?
(Laughs) When did that happen? I actually don’t follow up on all the negative comments. I stay away from negative energy because I know my intentions for doing what I do come from a good place.
If I am hot, I am hot, why should I wear sweaters? These are people’s opinions. I am open to constructive criticism from my mum, my producers, or my team because I know they want the best from me.
However, out here, you never really know people’s intentions. I have instructed my team never to tell me any negative stuff people are saying about me; I don’t want to know.
Purple is my favourite colour but I don’t feel like it fits me. I also love navy blue, orange, peach, green and yellow
The Pursuit of Happiness
Favourite car and colour you would pick:
Black Mercedes Benz, but I don’t like these small sports cars that you can’t even carry your friends and family in
Lumosity, it has games that help with memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing, and problem solving
Favourite movie star:
I love Halle Berry, Will Smith, Queen Latifa
Cardi B or Nicky:
I actually don’t like it when the industry pits women against each other. But I would love to see them do an old school rap battle to promote the culture of hip-hop
Apple or Samsung:
Coke or Pepsi: