Kayvo Kforce prides himself as one of the pioneers of new school hip-hop in Kenya. The Kibera-bred rapper has not only mentored a host of the current crop of young rappers in the game but also runs his music record label ‘Namba Nane Skyline’.
You’ve been in the game for a decade now. Do you regard yourself as one of the heavyweights in Kenyan hip-hop?
I believe I am. This is because I started the new school hip-hop in the country and I have also mentored, if not all, a majority of my new school hip-hop peers.
Your style lately has been going melodic, refraining from the hardcore hip-hop you are known for. What’s the motivation behind this decision?
Versatility is my greatest gift. Also, I embrace the African pop culture as an Afro hip-hop artiste.
Hardcore rap was my foundation, but I outgrew the constraints of it in favor of local African music, which kind of veers to the Afro-pop style of music. However, this does not dilute my direction and content.
Is the direction you taken as an executive at your record label, Namba Nane Skyline, more lucrative for you to pursue at this point in time?
I have over the years been a leader to my peers and the whole hip-hop fraternity.
So, it’s only right I help the industry’s newcomers by improving the production and creative quality of their craft.
It is also a business that helps keep the lights on as well as provide support to the creatives who may not be financially, or artistically capable of furthering their talents.
With the music label, our mission is to bring good creative content to the centre stage of Kenyan entertainment.
We also have a vision to create and nurture new and old talents from Kibera, and Kenya as a whole.
There has been a lot of misunderstanding between a lot of new acts and the older generation of artistes. Could there be a solution to this issue?
Our music industry has been plagued by corruption, bias, self-loathing, and lack of support and mentorship.
This in turn has created an atmosphere of suspicion and bad blood amongst the creatives.
Personally, I’d like to think that this is a small battle that we can all win if we worked in unity to elevate ourselves in the continent’s top music industries.
What do you appreciate about the new school artistes such as Steph Kapela and AD Family that you have worked with?
All I care about is creative quality and diversity; that’s how I easily embrace most of the new rappers because we all have uniqueness in us.
So, the challenge is to be uniquely creative and diverse and most young artistes embrace their music styles and personalise them to a point that they resonate with Kenyans.
What is your support system?
Business, just like social life, requires a support system. Personally, my support system has always been my business partners; producers, videographers and publicists, among others. All of whom are my day one friends and family as well as colleagues.
Who are your all time favourite Kenyan musicians and why?
They include Kalamashaka, K-South, Chiwawa, Kantai, E-Sir, Ukoo Flani, the late Achieng Abura, the late Ayub Ogada, Mercy Myra and Eric Wainaina.
This is because they helped Kenyan music to develop a loyal local audience due to their originality, message and vibe.
The internet has had an impact on Kenyan music one way or another, and this wasn’t the case 10 or 15 years back. How has it affected your music business?
Thanks to the internet, business is booming because I don’t have to rely on mainstream media for my music to reach to my fans.
I also don’t need them to articulate my artistic views. So, yes, I feel the internet has in a way levelled the playing field.
Do you feel appreciated enough by the local industry?
Appreciation is relative. Some artistes get appreciated by having a large following courtesy of the media.
But for some of us, the appreciation comes from a select elite who buy, invest in and consume our music products because they understand the value and appreciate the creative content with or with the mainstream media hype.
Would you take up a position in authoritative music bodies such as the Music Copyright Society of Kenya?
Music politics and corruption in Kenya are worse than in the Kenyan government.
If I took over the top seat at such an organisation, I’d first push for a Kenyan music policy to protect local creatives from unscrupulous music business individuals and institutions.
All I’d need would be support from fellow creatives and all media and investors to streamline operations and improve transparency.