Dennis Lucas Githiora Mahugu alias WanTwo and Allan Ochoro Odhiambo, alias Ruch Senior, of Afrikanation Mziki proclaim a kind of hip-hop style that they say does not glorify immorality and wealth. And they are determined to follow this style to the end.
What makes your music different from the usual Kenyan hip-hop?
The usual Kenyan hip hop has diverted from what it used to be. Nowadays, it’s all about bragging and glorifying immorality.
What we as Afrikanation Mziki are offering is music that teaches and entertains at the same time; songs that people can relate to.
If you listen to our lyrics, you’ll see we don’t just write for the sake of it. Our songs bring out the distinct character of rhyme and reason, meaning that there is a message being passed from every song title.
For instance “Downlow”, talks about what to expect in a club, “Felista” is all about the so-called slay queens, while “16 Barz” was a lesson to Kenyan rappers on how to make good music, just to mention a few.
Why the name Afrikanation Mziki and what does it stand for?
We began as an art avenue for young people with the idea of bringing Africa together, using different forms of artistry including spoken word, acrobatics, and music and dancing.
Also, as we all know, Africa is blessed with immense and diverse art, religion and culture.
As the name suggests, the idea behind Afrikanation is to break down the artificial boundaries in the continent, and instead unite Africa into one nation using those forms of art. The K in Afrikanation symbolises Kenya, where the idea was first conceived.
What do you aim to gain from the music ideology of Afrikanation Mziki, which you have spearheaded all along?
Our major purpose is to promote the African culture and tell positive, day-to-day stories of Africa to the world. We want the positive side of the continent—that for so long has been swept under the carpet—to be finally seen.
Secondly, we also want to create a channel for other talents to showcase what they have and tell their stories. It is something that we believe is easily felt in most of our songs.
It is nearly seven years down the line but, honestly, many would argue that you haven’t quite made a mark for yourselves. How do you explain this?
We can say it has been six years of doing music, but three of composing songs professionally.
When we started out in 2011, we were among the so called “underground artistes”, and we used to participate in the famous Wapi? concerts, which were held monthly at the British Council and Sarakasi Dome.
For four years, that is up to 2014, we were doing music for the fun of it. We had it in our minds that we were still busy in school pursuing our professional courses.
After school, we were fortunate enough to get jobs which consumed most of our time, and it was not until August 2014 that we were able to shoot our first video for the song “Baby Boo”.
This was our first vibrant song and the traction we gained prompted us to do our second video “Downlow” that became our best release.
Speaking of “Downlow”, there were rumours that at one point you complained about copyright issues, accusing some artiste of stealing it. How far have you gone with the whole saga?
We let go of the whole situation, of course bearing in mind that one can steal your idea or music, but they can never rob you of your mind and brains.
What have you done to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself?
When that happened, we registered with MCSK. But as you know, the organisation isn’t there anymore. But we’ve learned to release our projects on all platforms, audio and visual in advance before sharing with anyone else.
Advice for up-and-coming artistes who might be naive on this issue?
Trust yourself and your projects because you don’t need approval from other artistes who’ve already made it up the ladder.
We learned the hard way that if you do that they will either mess you up or assist you, and rarely does the latter occur.
What should your fans look out for?
We are currently working on an album which should be out in two years.
In the meantime, we are looking forward to collaborating with artistes like King Kaka and Fena, whom we are yet to approach.
Both of you are accountants. Do you see yourselves pursuing music as a full-time career, or is it just something you’re doing for fun?
Of course, our choice will depend on what puts bread and butter on our table. But we can’t rule out doing music on full-time basis in future.