[Kenya] Social media propels Khaligraph to international stardom
CNN’s ‘African Voices’, programme interviews Kenya’s rapper Khaligraph accompanying him to learn more about his influences, which include a mixture of western rap and his Kenyan upbringing.
Known for performing through a blend of Swahili and English, Khaligraph explains his rap style to ‘African Voices’: “It's a little influenced from the Americans because of the kind of music we listen to out here… Probably the pronunciation of words is a little bit Westernised, but the message is Africa… When you see me, I'm always representing Africa.”
Raised in the Kayole district of Nairobi, the programme hears how Khaligraph’s dream of a musical career were realised in 2009 after an appearance on the Kenyan edition of the Emcee Africa competition.
Although he finished second it was this moment which convinced Khaligraph he had the potential to perform as a career – having already recorded over 1,500 tracks.
However, the transition into turning professional was not without challenges, as Khaligraph explains to CNN: “I remember I presented my music to the local radio station, and they told me, ‘Khaligraph your content is so Westernised, you need to localise your content.’ It was hard for me.”
Instead, Khaligraph chose to promote his music using social media and YouTube, which not only established him as an artist but also developed a fan base.
Khaligraph explains how significant this type of promotion is for upcoming artists: “You need social media to push your music right now... If you're not good with social media and knowing how to market your music there, unfortunately nobody is going to talk about your video.”
Having been featured by Google in 2016, CNN hears how Khaligraph is looking to give back to his community by establishing a recording studio and his own label.
When asked to offer his advice for upcoming Kenyan musicians who are also shaped by their environments, Khaligraph tells ‘African Voices’: “I only talk about my experiences I wouldn't talk about something that I haven't been through… I believe patience is key. Hard work and you're going to shine at the end if you push it the way it's supposed to be pushed. Patience is key.”