Your Dreams Are Valid; Lupita Nyong’o Release

The first time I saw Lupita up close, was in 2011. I had gone for Shuga Seaon 2 auditions, at Homeboyz Radio, Baricho road. Having been impressed by Shuga Season 1, I wanted to be in the sequel. I knew it would be a great experience/opportunity. After waiting in line for almost the whole day, we got in groups, did our skit, and unfortunately, I didn’t meet the cut.

A few weeks later (can’t remember well, might have been days), I was called back for a second audition, this time at KNT. The audition was supposed to be at 10am. I got there on time, I mean, who would be late for such an opportunity? But the audition did not kick off right away… After waiting for more than 5 hours, I finally auditioned, and guess who was auditioning me? Lupita Nyong’o. This time, there were no other judges, just her, and a videographer, if I’m not wrong…

My skit was easy, Lupita was gonna act like she is my girlfriend who just found out that she is pregnant and I was to calm her down. Two things were going on here; first, I was starstruck! I had seen Lupita’s exemplary performance on Shuga 1. She was amazing, she slayed her role. She was a huge star, and here she was acting like my pregnant girlfriend, perhaps the only person I would be okay to get a kid with before I am 40 😆… The second thing that was going on, I was so hungry and thirsty, having not eaten lunch, and spending 5 hours waiting in the sun… I don’t know if I had missed breakfast or what, but I was just too hungry. Well, with that combination, you can bet how the audition went.

She got in her role so well…, “oh my god, Mark I’m pregnant, what are we gonna do, what am I going to tell my parents…” and there I was, supposed to say something… what was I supposed to say? It’s Lupita we are talking about! Like I would worry if she was pregnant for me! I would be jubilating! (This is how people lose focus).

I don’t remember what I said, but I do know that I poorly delivered. A hungry man is an angry man, add starstruck to it, and I think what you get is a state worse than indifference. I’m happy that Lupita will never remember this 🤣. I really hope there is no video tape.

Lupita Nyong’o is by far one of the most successful artistes of our times. She has scaled the heights. She has set the bar high. She has shown us what is possible. This explains the chorus, Lupita- as an example of the level that I want to be at. It’s a standard so high if you ask me, but as she said, our dreams are valid, and just as she has made it big in her career path, so can I make it, so can you make it, so can everyone do it!

It is not a clear path though. There might be no path even. And it is our duty to create that path, and while at it, failure is part of the package…and as you stumble from one failure to another, there are times you start to doubt it all. You start to question whether your Grand Scheme is not just a far fetched dream that you ought to let go. This explains the opening line on the first verse, “damn, I wanna be famous, time this poetry pay back…” which is sort of a cry of frustration from what seems like years of reaching out for the unreachable.

But it’s like having a debate inside your head and at this point, the vision of the land that you promised yourself fights back. It is like being on a constant high; “what if it works”, you say to yourself, and that is a more powerful fuel than any other form of fuel in the fuel market! It is a fuel that has churned heroes and villains in equal measure.

The second verse encompasses this ideal of my future, visualizing myself as the man I am creating myself into, a man living the positive result of the question “what if”, and at the same time happily paying the price of his success, thus the line, “wanna hear them say I’m devil worshipper, coz my money too much I’m all over…” just to emphasis the irony that the process of creating and maintaining value is mainly associated with superstitious means than it is associated with qualities such as hard work.

In the end, your mind is so absorbed in your promised land, that you sort of get drunk from it to an obscene state! And that is where the third verse comes in; that some of the things people do when they have achieved immeasurable success are not agreeable across the board, but they do it anyway, because who can stop you (but yourself) when you are on top of your world? Long live the dreamers, and like Lupita Nyong’o said, your dreams are valid! Dream on!

Below is the YouTube link… watch, like, subscribe, and share…

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Since When Did Black Men Become Kings?

“In this manila envelope the results of my insanity
Quack said I crossed the line between real life and fantasy
Can it be the same one on covers with Warren Buffett
Was ducking the undercovers, was warring with motherfuckers?
Went from warring to Warren, undercovers to covers
If you believe in that sort of luck your screws need adjusting
In the world of no justice and black ladies on the back of buses
I’m the immaculate conception of rappers-slash-hustlers
My God it’s so hard to conceive
But it all falls perfect I’m like autumn is to trees
The doc interrupted, he scribbled a prescription for some Prozac
He said: “take that for your mustard, boy
You must be off your rocker
If you think you’ll make it off the strip before they ‘Pac ya
Nigga you gotta be psychotic
Or mixing something potent with your vodka
It takes a lot to shock us
But you being so prosperous is preposterous
How could this nappy headed boy from out the projects
Be the apple of America’s obsession?
You totally disconnected with reality
Don’t believe in dreams
Since when did black men become kings” #shinysuittheory

You gotta speak life into your own life, and if you can see it, it don’t matter how many don’t see it. Keep your nuts loose, don’t ever tighten them! The world has more than enough sobber people, and thirsting for crazy fellas. #themansaway #sofly

Making of #sofly ; the audio

If I could sum up #sofly in one sentence, it would be #experimental. From the audio to the video, everything about this song was getting out of my comfort zone, getting a bit more vulnerable on the judgemental scale. But like one person captioned it, this song is very me! Unlike #hapakazi which we kept it very general, #sofly is a much deeper look at my personal life, from my view on drugs which won’t be so obvious to capture when you hear the song unless you know me really well, to my flirtatious relationship with sex, money, friendships, and goals. While I celebrate the friendships I have on this song, I also caption, dead friendships, that were hurtful to see them die, but which had long due served their purpose and even started to rot.

After #hapakazi, I was left in a dilemma, without a producer to be precise, after making a decision not to work with the producer I had be working with for close to 3 years. Making music is very much like making love. It’s not something you can just jump into bed with anyone. It’s not like sex, it’s not a one night stand affair. You have to vibe, build chemistry, you have to understand each other to create magic. That doesn’t just happen every day… but the pleasure was all mine, coz just like the song title, we kept the whole vibe #sofly.
The first time I called Ricco about working with him, he sent me a very detailed ‘contract’, perhaps one of it’s kind within the Kenyan production space. I had first come across him via you tube. And he appeared like a very serious person to work with (check out his videos, you will get the vibe I’m talking about), and true to that image, he did not disappoint, he is by far the most business ethical person I have met in this music business. Having worked with 2 producers in the past who were quite on the far edge of the asshole scale, it was quite a turn around of events to come across someone who understood music as a business, and carried themselves with the respect of a business person. From my observation, most artistes in Kenya, do not take their art as a business, and it explains why TZ, Nigeria and SA keeps doing better than us. Working with Ricco was a pleasure and it gave me hope that not everybody was an ass in this business after all. The whole project was pretty much on time, and our communication was at it’s best. Oh, and Ricco’s skills are dope! He is a good listener, making it easy and very effective to work with.

Back to #sofly, I call it experimental, because I tried a few things that gave us chills at the beginning, but we made peace with them, such as the flow and even the content, and the interesting thing to see was how everybody who listened to the song, jammed at those things that were quite disconcerting to us; the things that we feared are the things that connected us to our listeners. The only part of this song I did not enjoy, was having to watch my ‘R’ and ‘L’s . My mother tongue influence on my English is very present, but with #sofly we tried to minimize it, and I have to say this part didn’t feel like me, but perhaps, we can consider it me getting out of my comfort zone for your comfort, a very expensive trade to make, but we gotta do what we have to do (as long as we don’t hurt anyone) to climb this ladders of success.

All in all, I cannot wait to share this one with you all. It’s a good one, it’s the beginning of Mansa! #hapakazi was just an intro that went really well (as far as introductions are supposed to), but with #sofly, we keep it that way way, the # mansaway, #sofly for real. Cheers to chasing dreams and making progress! Can’t stop! Won’t stop! Till I get it all!

Shine on!

“Please don’t die over the neighbouhood that your mama rentin’ Take your drug money and buy the neighborhood that’s how you rinse it”

He did all that but the streets still couldn’t let him be, when the stakes are too high you gotta watch who you hang out with!

Too many kings have fallen because of their own! That’s when you realize you really are on your own!

We paying too much attention to the enemy, we forgot the seeds he planted in our premises.

Keep that one eye open like CBS, That’s the only way you will see their BS.

And when the day comes your blood gets cold, I hope your legacy will always be told.

Kings get their heads cut off, tell the message to the guy who wants to make the next cut off!

This is the life cycle, to keep it moving needs blood thirst psychos…

It’s a sad day when it’s your day, but I hope by then you will have found your way!

Shine on king, live long kin, it’s your win!

Depression, the roaming cancer!

This morning, there was a discussion on Kiss FM that brought me to the sad news that last year, my county Nyandarua, experienced 70 cases of suicide. My sister went further and told me that there were several other attempted suicide cases, that would have drove the number higher, had they been successful. She dropped a few names of our neighbours, people I have known growing up, and to say the least, the whole thing was just sad.

One of these 70 suicide cases was a neighbor I grew up looking up to. He was a well respected man of our society. He was a head teacher and carried himself like a man very aware of his statue within our small community. However, life took it’s turns, and while I was empathetic to him, I could not help but wonder where and why things took a turn.

The first time I ever came across a suicide case, I was around class 2 or 3 at Kinja primary. A man by the name Irogo, who lived about 500m from our school, had hanged himself just by the road side. We were at our usual break time, when the news that a man was hanging on a tree nearby reached us. Almost every kid ran towards Irogo’s home, to see the hanging man. I didn’t get to see him, but from the stories I heard from the other kids, it’s not a scene i would have wanted to see.

With depression cases on the rise, or rather with these cases coming to light now more than they used to in the past, it’s only fair that we ponder on our mental being! Just as our bodies need all sorts of support, from exercise to eating right, so do our minds need a sort of stability and healthy feeding. We need to create an atmosphere where people are not ashamed of asking for help, or just sharing their minds and situations. We need to teach mental health in our schools, because even after seeing Irogo on the tree, all the kids and adults around us did was make jokes about it. In fact, Irogo’s kids experienced some sort of stigma after the whole situation, and you could see how uncomfortable they were at school. There was no one to explain what and why it had happened, something that I think would have been important.

One of the main reasons that was given as having drove these 70 cases to their suicide was lack of jobs. While I’m aware that there are so many other causes that could drive one to suicide, Shaffie did point out a thing that we are all aware of, mismanagement of government resources and extreme corruption in our country.

All these things are a web; bad leaders will steal the money that would have been invested in certain key areas, thus creating more jobs, they will make poor policies that will impact negatively on the education that our kids receive, and then suicide will happen and we will look at those people, call them weak, while we celebrate and dine with thieves. We need to really change the way we vote, the way we reason, the way we see ourselves and what we stand or claim to stand for. The depravity that we are living in is beyond, one that shames the prostitute (who is in a genuine business), while praising, celebrating and dining with thieves of our future. It only makes one wonder, how much can a man hate himself?

I’m talking to you my age mates. If we do not take care ourselves, the rotten system as it is, will corrode us from inside, it will not just eat the meat, but our bones too. It’s the worst form of cancer, one that will leave nothing behind but a total emptiness. Please wake up. Do the best you can to take care of yourself, watch out for your brothers and sisters; kindness never hurt anyone. Most important think with a web mentality, where one decision you make have a ripple effect. Think about it hard, and do the right thing!

Becoming, Michelle Obama

If I could sum up Becoming in one sentence, it would be, candid, honest, and authentic, words that all sprout from the same root. That’s how the book feels from the first page, all the way to the last one.

I admire Michelle’s ability to tell her story the way it was, rather than telling it how most people would have wanted it to be. She does not cower or even sound startled when she talks of her immediate lack of support to her husband on his political career. She saw life different, had a different perspective, wanted a different approach, perhaps what makes this read amazing.

In a world that preaches blind support, it takes a lot of guts to tell such a story, and as Michelle puts it, Becoming is about finding her voice, which she has truly achieved. But as she is quick to point out, Becoming is not about a destination, but a journey, it’s an every day, every moment thing, where one has to continuously ensure that their voices are heard, especially in a positive impactful manner.

As I was reading this book, I reflected on one of the things that scares me a lot, that a majority of Africans do not tell their stories, thus denying themselves, their voice. In the midst of my thoughts, I had a small conversation with my mum, about my grandpa, a guy whom by the age of 40 had travelled almost all over the world, worked with global organisations on the agricultural front, a guy whom you have eaten his work as long as you have eaten ugali, githeri or anything corn in this county, having pioneered most of the maize seeds used in East Africa, a guy who had experienced racism and love across the many places he visited and whose stories would crack me up, inspire me, challenge me, and sometimes, make me sad; those stories will never be heard beyond the few of us that sat at his feet. That is the sad story of Africa. Our voices, our lives die with us while they could impact many. Many of us live an amazing life and die without the larger world, or even those close to us having a good glimpse at our lives and impact.

I do hope that going forward, we as a continent will work out one way or another, however we can in the positions that we are in, to ensure that there are more autobiographies coming out of Africa. We are surrounded by many amazing people, and their stories should be shared across!

That’s the thing about Becoming, it will make you think, laugh and perhaps set you off or encourage you on, with your Journey of Becoming.

Mak Mansa; what it stands for

When I started doing music, I used to go by the name Hardy M, which was an influence from the Hardy Boys Book Series… I was actually in a group with a guy called Bubi, so he was Hardy B. I haven’t seen Bubi in many years. I guess it’s time for that drink.

After a while, I dropped the tag Hardy, and settled for Rapstar, which I stayed with for most of my high school years.

In campus, I was basically Mark, and a later attempt to drop Mark, failed miserably. I remember introducing myself at work as Muiruri, only for my colleges to hear a friend call me Mark, and it’s like Muiruri was immediatelylost to oblivion. Obviously, Mark is easy on the tongue, which is why they prefer it.

When we were about to release Hapa Kazi, I was still insisting on using Muiruri as my stage name. I treasure names, they say a lot about us, who we are, where we are from, what we stand for, and sometimes, they can point to the direction our lives are headed. A name is not just a name; there is a lot to it.

One afternoon, we sat down with my manager Ray, with one main agenda, to come up with a name! We talked about the pros and cons of Muiruri as a stage name, dropped in more names in the mix, lol, it took us several hours to come up with Mak Mansa.

I was trying to avoid using an English name as a stage name, because I wanted my name to instantly tell where I am from. Eventually, Mark proved to be a hard name to drop, but just like the English adapted it from the Latin word, Martkos, I decided to drop the ‘R’ in my own small attempt of owning it…

I have always been impressed by the “Mansas” from the Mandinka tribe whose Kingdom was centralized in the present day Mali. Mansa, is basically a title equivalent of Emperor, King, or Pharaoh. The Mansa, was in charge of trade and the Kingdom at large. The most common known Mansa is Musa, for his large quantity of gold and the Mecca trip that he made. On this trip, he gave out too much gold, that the economy of Egypt crushed, and took very long to recover. He is said to have been the richest man that ever lived.

There is also Mansa Abubakar II, whom I think had balls the size of B-ball. This guy attempted closing the Atlantic Ocean, but he never came back and whether he made it or not is not known. However, one can entertain the thought that he perhaps made it considering some similarities across South America and Africa, such as pyramids. Maybe I’m just entertaining too much…

What these Mansas stood for is what I identify with, wealth creation, empowerment through education and adventure, taking risks that are almost as throwing oneself to one’s death, being achievers and the fact that they are black. Those are the things that make me identify with them. Those are the things that I believe in, to generate and create wealth, to take risks while at it, to embrace and live life.

We need to create more heroes and heroines that are black,it’s the only way we can gain self esteem in our own color. That’s why Wakanda is a huge thing! Perhaps, looking back, can be a source of several inspirational characters.

Hail to the Mansa, the king is back, can you make them claps! And like Jay says in forever young, my name shall be passed down generations, While debating up in barber shops…. With a little ambition just what we can become here, And as the father passed the story down to his son’s ears, Young ‘we will’ get younger every year. Cheers! #Hapakazi #Nowira #Lit360 #NTV #InterviewComingSoon

#LiveOn #RhythmJunction #Part2

I have never told you how Raymond Munene became my music manager; I have known Ray for the last 8 years! Damn! It’s been 8 years already…. From my freshman year, where we were members of the public speaking club, though at that time, we didn’t know each other…he was just another guy at the club…he says he thought I was a very meek person. Looks can be deceiving 😆.

A year later, we both joined the student council and that’s how we got to know each other really well.

Ray has always been a big time hip hop fan. Back then, his favorite quote was “God forgives I don’t”, you all know where that comes from… He was, still is, the boss himself, Lakini siku hizi ameenda Migos sana Haha!

For years, I have always told Ray that we are going to work together within the music business, though I didn’t know exactly how we were going to work together. His appreciation and excellent ear for music is rare and quite a talent.

Over the last one year, Ray and I have become very close, spending a lot of time together, talking about what we are doing and the course that we want to drive our lives. Ray says he wanna put up a 3 floor music studio penthouse, and I fucking believe him. I know it’s happening real soon, because he is one of the most Go-Hard person that I know. When we would through in the towel during the student council days, Ray and Josh, would stay on…these ninjas ran the show alone a couple of times. And even now that we are working together, I can see how he moves things when they seem to have stopped. He doesn’t give up on knocking on closed doors. He is the pusher! Several times, I have screamed “fuck those people” and Ray will keep quiet and keep pushing behind the scenes only to call me up later with the results.

So back to my story, sometime last year, I played Ray something I was working on and he was like, “damn! This is good”. So I asked him whether he would like to accompany me to the studio that evening and he was all in. He didn’t just sit through my sessions, he was there giving very good ideas and advice.

Around that time, I knew I needed a team. A one man show was not going to take me far. So I was here thinking to myself, who I can work with… Who will believe in me and buy into the music dream that I have? There was this one time we went to see Mike, the video director for Hapa Kazi, and they were all calling Ray, bwana Manager, he had already fit in the shoes… But I was deep in thought, because we were both new to the music business, and I knew it would be a big challenge if the whole team was made up of new comers.

But the thing is, I knew I wanted someone who understood me, not just a good manager at managing me but a manager who knew, and even if they did not agree with me, was willing to respect what I stand for. I’m a business man and I wanted someone who would understand and respect that. Having known Ray for years, he knew me and I knew him. He was just the perfect fit for us to be a team.

The other day we were sitting down and I asked him, “why are you here? Why are you working with me?” and he said, “cause I believe in the cause”. Couldn’t have given a better answer than that.

I wrote this because… When Lulu asked what I needed to be ready, I didn’t mention the importance of having a team behind you. The team you work with is very important. It’s what makes things work! It’s the mover. You can be a good starter, but without a good team, you won’t be a good builder.

Cheers to everything that we are gonna be and make out of this life! #Youngforever #Hapakazi #Nowira thank you for the 20K views, keep clicking, viewing and sharing as we work on feeding you with more material. Happy Sabbath.

#LiveOn #RhythmJunction #Hot96

I didn’t grow up around much urban music. In fact, growing up as a kid, I never considered music a career, or showed much interest in music. I was a book kid. You could find me anywhere there was written material.

My first interaction with urban music came around the age of 9 via Nation FM, but even that was limited, minimal interaction, nothing serious. Then came Mizizi heat, and for the first time in my life I was really impressed by the songs I was hearing. E sir was of course at the top of the game… There was this song, “mimi ni superstar…” by Delicious. Damn! I loved that song. Still love it…

Around that time I changed schools, I went to Naivasha Boarding. Met all the cool kids from town. They knew music. One of my deskmates, Brian Peter, we used to call him BP, he introduced me to Jay-Z. And that my friends was a real game changer. He had a pic of Jay sitting on the infamous Bentley Azure in his lyrics’ book. Back then, there was no Genius or A-Z, just kids writing down the lyrics to the songs they liked. (You know the song I’m talking about if you know that picture of Jay, Hard Knock life.)

For some weird reason that I still can’t explain, that picture of Jay stuck in my mind and I have lived with it over the years.

I still wasn’t writing anything music, but after primary school, I had nothing to do, and so I spent almost all my time listening to music, and it’s around that time that I wrote my first song. I didn’t think it was my song, I thought it’s something that I had heard on the radio. So for the rest of the day, I tuned on to the radio, trying to listen to this song. I didn’t hear it. A week passed, and I was convinced it was my stuff.

It was interesting in a way, not growing around much music and then bumping to it. It’s like bumping on someone and falling in love with them, you show interest in everything about them, their, past, their present, and their future… I had to go back in time and discover all the cool music out there; from Al Green to Jay, the catalogue is huge. Music is timeless, and I’m still discovering and falling in love with much more.

Join me today at #Hot96 on the Rhythm Junction with Willis Raburu and Saidi Lulu Sheila from 10am to 1pm. Tune in.

#Hapakazi #Nowira #CantstopWontstop #TilliGetItAll

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