Donn J (Francis Jowie) is a 23-year-old rapper who left Kwale four years ago to pursue education and a career in music. Through underground rap battles, he met renowned artist Khaligraph Jones, who gave him a head start in his career.
1. Do you think growing up in Kwale impacted your journey in music?
Certainly. I looked up to many local artistes, including Sokoro, Daddi Q and Top- G, who were considered home-grown superstars. They influenced my desire to pursue music at a very young age.
2. What did you study in university, and is that knowledge useful to you now?
I recently graduated with a degree in Human Resources from the University of Nairobi, and the knowledge I acquired has helped me become better at networking and working efficiently with different people.
I have gained insight on how to form an effective team, and to communicate effectively. You could say I am a “people person”.
3. Is Khaligraph Jones as cool in person as he seems? Was it intimidating to be part of the Khali Kartel track?
Jones has gone from being a rapper I emulate in the Kenyan hip hop scene to someone I call a mentor and brother.
From the moment I first met him, he effortlessly made it easy for us to coexist in the same space.
As much as I was anxious at first, the feeling disappeared as soon as he played a few beats in the studio, and we got down to work immediately.
Being on Khali Cartel 1 was pretty awesome. To know that the king of Kenyan rap thought I was a good lyricist and even picked me out of all the rappers he knows to be part of the original crew is quite encouraging to say the least.
4. What was it like to work with producer Tim Rimbui? Are you mentoring anyone now?
Working with Tim Rimbui under Ennovator Music has been career defining for me.
That someone who has been a part of so many successful artistes’ careers is now a part of my journey is nothing short of a blessing.
He has showed me the ropes and he continues to be a guiding light. He allowed me to not only create music but also understand the hard work that remains to be done afterwards.
I recently took a rapper from Mtwapa under my wing. He goes by the stage name Tricks. I saw and heard his work straight from the "Yes Bana" challenge and we’ve been in communication ever since.
He is a bit raw but very talented, and I want to ensure that he starts off on a good foundation.
5. Who do you want to work with next?
I have been blessed to work closely with people I consider top notch creatives in Kenya, East Africa and Africa. I have my team to thank for that. The next act I would like to work with is Naiboi.
Despite the fact that he is one of the hottest artistes in Kenya right now, his style is so different from mine and I know for a fact that we can come up with music that will cause ripples — if not shake down – the whole entertainment industry.
So you better watch out because Donn J ft Naiboi will definitely be a banger.