Meet Kenya’s First Lady of Hip-Hop

Considered by many as the First Lady of Kenyan hip-hop, thanks to her illustrious music career spanning decades, Nazizi has inspired a whole new generation of fearless femcees. Her recent songs “254” and “Wedding Ring” proved that she is more than just a rapper as she flaunts her singing; but on “Coke Studio Africa 2019”, expect Nazizi’s hard hitting bars to shine through.

On her Coke Studio Debut

Nazizi stated that her Coke Studio collaboration with Lioness (Namibia) and Boity (South Africa) makes it the first time she will be working with a cross section of top female acts across Africa, in the 20 years she has been in the industry. Terming it ‘a rare and unique experience’, Nazizi revealed: “Being on Coke Studio Africa is such a big deal for me. In my career, I have never had an all-female crew; from the producer, back stage to the band members. I have always been around male artists. It is inspiring to be around strong female artists.”

Even though Nazizi has been in the game for over two decades, she still loves the high that comes when working with new artists. She says: “I am glad to collaborate with Boity and Lioness because they are two amazing artists who know what they are doing. Everybody has a style of working and I appreciate each artist individually.”

Lessons from Necessary Noize

Together with Wyre and Bamzigi, she was part of the legendary hip-hop/dancehall group Necessary Noize of the classic tracks “Bless Ma Room”, “Tension” and “Kenyan Girl, Kenyan Boy”. The group, credited as one of the pioneers of Kenya’s urban pop music scene, was formed in the early 2000s. A shift from being a solo artist to joining a group played a big role in shaping her craft earlier on in her career. She says: “Being with Necessary Noize was an interesting time in my career. I learnt that whatever I would do as an individual would always affect other people. I had to learn about how to write shorter verses and about how other people write. With a group, team-work is key and I learnt to be patient because the brand is not about me.”

Career highlights

With more than 17 music awards and accolades to her name, Nazizi says that each one of her awards always feels like it’s the first. Her first single “Nataka Kuwa Famous” was a trail-blazer in its own right. She recalls: “The first time I heard my song on radio was so amazing. That moment can never be replayed again.”

She has since toured the world and performed on countless stages. She dabbles between genres but still concludes that hip-hop is king.

“If you would have asked me a few years ago I would have picked reggae but at this point, I have to say that hip hop is at the core of my roots and foundation. That’s what everybody knows Nazizi as,” she concludes.