For someone who just met you, who is Rosa Ree?
Rosa Ree is a young woman from Moshi, Tanzania, who also studied in Kenya. Mostly, Rosa is a person who has given much to music. I have been passionate about music ever since childhood. Wherever there was music, I was there! I grew up with a great family, and they have been supportive of my musical endeavours because they understand that my music is who I am.
Tell me of your musical journey
Besides doing music professionally, I started singing when I was a kid. I sang Faith Evan’s, Puff Daddy songs and also church songs in my free time or when I was doing chores. I started doing music professionally two years ago. It’s actually a funny story. I simply did one random song with Nahreel the producer, he realised that I was talented and he decided to sign me into his label, an offer I gladly accepted.
Who are the influencers in the industry and in your life?
I don’t particularly look up to one person for inspiration because I believe it ends up turning you into a clone. You may aspire so much to be someone that you end up copying because you believe their methods are the best. I prefer not to limit myself, I like to look at people individually, from different situations and from there I get a story and I learn something. I could go to a Mama Mboga as you popularly call them and she will inspire me in a certain way, maybe her hustling nature. Those are the kind of stories I prefer to narrate in my songs. I most certainly have people I admire, by I do not limit myself to their specific music style or genre.
What made you want to get into the music business?
I started off as a singer, posting videos on social media sites; Instagram and the like. After a while people started noticing me. A man approached me and told me he had a label, his name was Maxmillian, and he wanted to do one record. A few moments into it he gave me the idea to do a rap verse and to our surprise my first song was fantastic. So from there I’ve been doing more and more hip hop tunes and I fall in love with it more every day.
How would you describe your music style?
It’s fresh, it’s funky, it’s young, it’s hip, and it’s full of message. What I sing about and what I rap about are about things I go through. I wrote One Time because of people telling me that I couldn’t do this rap music because it’s a man’s game. I wrote it with so much anger and it really helped my career. Many things started changing in my life, people started to know me, I got endorsed by Belaire, all because of one song! The response was overwhelming, I was Up In The Air which is why I called my second song that. All in all my music is simply me, raw and unfiltered.
What do you think your listeners will get out of your latest song?
We are going to give you bombs! We just finished shooting the video, everything is out there the response is positive, basically fire.
How has life changed for you from being a solo artiste to being signed to a huge record label like ‘The Industry’?
A lot. I grow every day, I experience new things every day, I meet new people daily and I give myself the opportunity to expand. So, between the first day and today, I can’t compare; from the flow, to the words, even to the quality of my voice. I constantly surround myself with people who make me better.
What is your say on Kenyan hip hop?
I’m getting to hear the new music. The hip hop I left was a bit old school but what I’m hearing now is different. Of course, Khali (Khaligraph) the King, so far the music is fire.
In your opinion, who is one of the most underrated artistes in East African hip hop?
I really have never sat to think about that. But I have no idea what happened to the former hip hop bigwigs, there is plenty of talent out there we don’t get to hear any more, like Keko, she was booming... I think it has a lot to do with support.
What’s your take on the East African Hip hop scene compared to that of South Africa?
Personally, I think every country has its own vibe and music. South African beats are different from Kenyan Kapuka beats, and just as I always say you cannot compare artistes, same goes to genres and music in each country. When Rosa comes with One Time, Khali with Toa Tint, and Nasree with Hell No, it’s all so diverse and cannot be compared. When it comes to wealth, it all does not matter, all that matters is talent and how far you are willing to go for that talent.
Who is your dream collaboration?
Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne. I mean, they’re hard core hip hop, I can’t really put it into words, a lot of their music really appeals to me.
What was the biggest barrier an artiste like you had to face to gain any commercial success?
People in general. There are people in your life, people who should have helped you up the ladder, but didn’t. Once you make it without them, they call you, pretending to be affiliated with you. Human beings do not really care about each other which can be a bigger barrier to success.
What kind of difficulties have you had being an artiste who does hip hop in a country famous for its singing and singers?
Lots of hate. But it doesn’t stop me, I keep doing my thing and I work my hardest. Sometimes it hurts that I represent my country as best as I can but many still hate me and don’t support me. At the end of the day I’m representing Tanzania and when I get a Grammy award, it will be for them.
What would be your dream venue with which to perform?
Kanye West’s floating stage, the one Casper did two years ago. I would want something similar, but better.
What piece of advise would you have for a female trying to penetrate the hip hop industry?
Hustle. Believe. But hustle. Faith without hard work is null and void. You cannot simply have faith and expect Jesus to get you there. You’ll have to go through sleepless nights, through hate, you’ll have to not eat at times but you have to remember why you are doing this.
Is Rosa Ree taken?
By the music, yes. Haha! I am in love with the game. I am single.
How has your experience in Kenya been so far since you’ve been back?
Great! So far it’s amazing, I’ve been welcomed with open arms and I cannot wait to come back. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to travel anywhere or do some sightseeing but I’ve seen how everything has changed since the last time I was here and I will definitely come or vacation. I’ll have to visit the Maasai Mara.