Wangechi redefining Kenyan Hip Hop

Kenyan Female Rapper Wangechi

In the 90s, female MCs such as Queen Penn, Da Brat, EVE, MC Lyte, Lil Kim and Missy Eliot made their contribution to the Hip Hop music genre felt. That was before the genre became so misogynistic reducing the role of women in hip hop to objects of display to sell music videos.

The Kenyan Hip-Hop Music was defined by such artists at Uko Flani Mau Mau, KSouth and Esir, It has since grown, partly due initiatives such as WAPI(Words and Pictures) which served as a platform where most notable hip hop artists today started from.

However, despite there being so many rappers, none has stood out (at least not according to me) like Wangechi.

She was recently featured in the CNN Inside Africa program together with Anto Neosoul and Just A Band with Zain Verjee. I was quite impressed by her style and talent especially in her collaboration video ‘Tulia Tu’ featuring Hip Hop Pantsula (HHP) and Rabbit.

I spoke to her and here is the interview;

Who is Wangechi?
I’m a 19 year old, musician and student.

What was your inspiration to become choose hiphop over other genres
I’ve always loved hiphop ever since I was a child. I loved the ability to play around with words and the beats associated with hiphop

Which artists inspire you
Lauryn Hill, chance the rapper, ab soul, kanye west and andre 3000

The Kenyan entertainment industry especially hiphop is male dominated, What are some of the challenges you have faced making a name?
The challenges I have faced making a name is that most of the people don’t accept my style of hiphop, since it is not that commercial and leans more on the alternative side. So its a challenge getting my fans to like my music

There is alot of misogyny in hip hop music both locally and internationally, what are your thoughts on this.
Its quite sad that that is happening I think the view on girls and women should be more respectful.

You have worked with Rabbit and HHP on the track ‘Tulia Tu’ how did you all find each other?
The coke studio project had brought hhp in, and we met up in the studio at ‘the elephant’ and decided to put down a track then and then

How was it working with a South African Hiphop artist, Hip Hop Pantsula
I loved it. Cause he personally gave me a lot of advise about the african hiphop scene. And I also learnt something new from his recording techniques

There are not that many lady rappers, why do you think this is so?
I think most ladies prefer to sing than too rap in general. And due to recent history hiphop has been viewed as a male dominated genre causing less females to pursue it

You recently appeared on CNNs Inside Africa program. How did that happen and how was the experience?
They called my manager Kevin Provoke asking about me and organised the interview. The experience was great I got to meet zain verjee, who is a very down to earth person. And I felt really humbled to be approached by cnn

There has been a lot of criticism on Kenyan music not on the same level as South African or Nigerian especially in the light of the MAMAs nominee list, Where do you think we are getting it wrong?
I think where we are getting it wrong is not investing in quality videos and productions. Cause I think our music is just as good if not better but we do not invest in it.

Where does Wangechi envision herself in the next 5 years both as an individual and her music.
In the next 5 years I want my music to be viewed and played on an international level and to branch off into other entertainment related scenes like a clothing line.

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