Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ways in Which Nairobi Half Life moved me. An open letter


Ways in Which Nairobi Half Life moved me. An open letter

I read all the time that WE ARE ONE. Sometimes I practice this truth. Most times I forget. I let the cares of my life, my struggles, my hustle, my dreams, my desires drown me in the sea of self. Inevitably, a drowning person will fight to break to the surface, and on these forced trips to breathe in, I find there is more to life than self. My problems and cares are not the end all of reality.

Tonight (as in last Thursday 22nd Nov 2012) was such a night ( I was a little afraid of the EMO that is this blog so I been hesitating. But I’m over myself now)

I just got back from an all-important strategy and planning meeting. So full of well-intentioned and self-serving ideas for how to further promote my ideas. Then I went to watch Nairobi Half Life. I agree, I am late to the party. Never you mind that. This blog post is directly because I am moved to my core (spoilers alert. If you have not watched it..I'm about to say some things so stop)

First, I am moved by the sheer brilliance of the script, of the actors, the directors, the makeup, the set design, the soundtrack. I sat in the movie theatre and ached. This is what art looks like when its real and its for real. Art is raw. It is sincere. It is light and intense simultaneously. It is true and we know it because we instinctively connect. This is why they say art is powerful. I sat there completely immersed in this movie that 'me' did not exist.

I became Mwas. Even now I taste the bitter sweet headiness of chasing a dream. Mwas made me remember how many times I am so na├»ve, so clueless, so fearless. Mwas made me think of those decisions & actions I refuse and fear to fully own because of the mess I made, and yet I cannot take back because of the mess I made. In those moments I was watching the movie..and indeed in this one as I write this..I think of all those people who come up to me/facebook me/write me an email saying they want to sing but don't know what to do next. They want my help but I hardly know what to say or do. Sometimes, I make suggestions- voice classes, choir, BGV for a band, intern for a musician. Most times, I feel terrified to say a thing. I am no saviour. I have no answers. I can't fix anyone’s life. Often, musicians at all stages of their career ask me to let them play at Blankets & Wine. Some are good- they get in. Some are bad. Some just need more time. Some I can't see how to schedule alongside what currently exists. Then comes the dread! I cannot bear to say these things to them. After all, who the hell I'm I to say these things? I have been dropped off a national singing competition. I have been thrown off stage by a marketing director who hated my songs after the first min. I have sung off key on stage. I have had an audience stare at me in confusion. I have had my heart broken and my confidence shattered a hundred times. And I became better for it- eventually. But I never forget the way it feels when you're at the bottom and just trying to catch a break. So, I say nothing. I spend endless hours second guessing myself..what if they are the next Sauti Sol or The Beetles? What if I am missing something? I'm I missing something? I hardly ever really know. My life feels like an elaborate guessing game. Mwas- a boy from 'nowhere' and with nothing but his heart on his sleeve took me all the way into the very centre of mine. So, first up..this is for every rapper, every singer, every instrumentalist who ever asked me for an opinion or a chance. Every one of you who has had the idea to share your dream with me. Please know I heard you. I recognize you. I carry that part you shared in my being. You affected/affect me because I am like you. Longing for the same things you do: expression, acceptance,validation,fame&fortune,hapiness,mastery,legendary status. I too spend endless hours seeking for direction, guidance, gigs, lyrics, melodies. I battle the same fears: what if I don't make it? I'm I good enough or any good at all? Is this it? Will I ever get to the end of this rainbow? To every one of you that has felt hurt by my feedback or worse, felt ignored by my silence- please forgive me. People- you and I included- only do what they think they can, based on what they think they know. And just like me, your dreams are valid. Your hope is real. And the best I can say is if you determine that its meant to be..then even the gates of heaven could not stop you.
In the meantime between now and your big break..the world will shake you, but it cannot break you.

Then there was Oti and his whole crew. YOLO. Living la vida loca. Going down a road whose end is guaranteed. Thug life. And there I was. One with them. I have never robbed anyone let alone killed anything bigger than a cockroach. But my father was murdered at our gate while driving in from friday evening mass, minding his own business. So Oti takes me there. I see Oti being so reckless with his life, high on the power trip of a gun. Of course, there was no other way it could end right? You live by the gun- you die by it. So why do I flinch when he is killed? I flinch. I did not want him to die like that. I have no problem with death-its a lifetimes guarantee(literally) but what a wasted life! What a broken heart for Mwas, for Oti's family, for life! My dad..he lived an amazing life. His life was full. He was fulfilled. He found his place on earth and I am sure he found his place in the stars. But what about Oti! What about my dads killer who was naturally gunned down in a most dramatic and traumatic police operation!What about these lives and all other lives attached to theirs! How funny that even as I remain connected to my dad in death, I would -just for a moment thanks to Oti- be connected to my dads killer too. And what poetic justice that I would think these thoughts and feel these things on my fathers ten year memorial. Ha! (AGAIN this was meant to be up last Friday morning)

I was Mwas. I was Amina. I was Oti. I was part of the cast. Part of the crew. Part of this mad, massive story/reality. Part of each singers/drummer/poet/instrumentalists dream. Part of my father. Part of his death and its circumstance. I was situations, decisions, cause, effect. I was me. And I was not me. And I was more me. I was all-we.

How perfect Nairobi Half Life is! How perfect life is.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Feelin It Lyrics (Muthoni The Drummer Queen)


(intro)
Yo! This is Muthoni The Drummer Queen,
See, I don’t usually do this but…
As far as I can see,
I need to enforce some things by royal decree,
Shut down your yackity mackity smack,
Listen up son. . . this one is for you,

(verse 1)
First things first,
Call up the mortuary,
Tell ‘em on this track, murder of the century,
And for my kindness I’ll pay for the obituary,
Sorry for the mess, I do this too habitually,
Second up, I propose a toast,
Raise your glass high from Nairobi to Coast,
See I don’t need to brag and I don’t wanna boast,
But I will cut you down, for acting like a toast,

Ati eh umeingia club na kadem kabarbie,
Kamestand kasafi,
Kanaitwa Fulani,
Na ni nusu mlami,
Na nywele mabegani unadhani eti kwamba nita jali,
Jamani
I didn’t know eti uko funny,
For wasting your time baby. . .
Pole samahani,
I thought I told ya,
 I’ll never be your honey,
It’s irrelevant to me about,
Your car, your crib, your money,
This is not me playing hard to get
This is me saying that I’m hard to get,
It’s in my blood running through my veins royal,
Media, tell them how I do super loyal,
And to be clear, I don’t deal with potential,
Wanna step to me?
Better have credeeeentials. . .
Like ‘so special so special so special’,

(chorus)
Heeeey yoooo,
Where you at, where my party people at
Heeeey yoooo,
Raise your cup high toast to the good life,
Heeeey yoooo,
Itakuwaje, boss itakuwaje,
Heeeeey yoooo,
Now we feelin’ it really really feelin’ it,

Her highness, miss flyness,
Lyrically is a weapon of mass violence,
Operating with a Double O 7 license,
Relegating all your chitter chatter jabber nonsense,
Now let’s be clear, on who they really fear,
Who rocks the party hard from the front to the rear,
It’s the drummer mama,
On the club banger,
Hang you out to dry like clothes on a hanger,

Ati eh umeingia kwenye booth,
Na ka-gold kwenye tooth,
Na tu-dem a kina Ruth,
Ati ndio waki-sooth,
Mpaka umezima lights,
Ati ndio mood i–right,
Ka Malawi ati ndio uwe flight,
Jamani,
No wonder all your songs sound weak,
You wouldn’t sound better if we all gave a week...to you,
Truth said I got better things to do,
Step aside son real army coming through,
To all my singers, in the ‘bafu choir’,
All my people strumming on the air guitar wire,
Chair table dashboard, drummer’s on fire,
Making trumpet harmonies on your head wryer

(bridge)
it’s a felony, how we make this sweet sweet. . .
melodies
bring the beat back yeeeeaaaahhhh!

(chorus) X2

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vile Inafaa - Muthoni The Drummer Queen ft Octopizzo


(intro)
Muthoni Drummer Queen. . . 
Octopizzo number nane. . . .
Dillie!

(verse1 - Octopizzo)
(DQ)    Hello Hello, Kumbe huku ni matanga
(OCTO)    Itabidi wasanii waanze kujipanga
(DQ)    Drummer queen octopizzo, ni upanga
(OCTO)    Tunakata shingo leo hakuna ujanja
(DQ)   Legooo

(OCTO)
YGB I black out like Eminem,
Namba nane I stand out coz I’m in the fame,
(Shhh) Don’t shout, I’m in the game,
Grain ka silos lines ka grain,
Heavy weight ka kilos, but on air ka plane,
Cadburys ka milo na na-run through veins,
Juu, rap bila mi ni ka jungle bila simba,
Monthly nikiflow ka dem bila mimba.
Miti ni dawa baby uliza Loliondo,
*eff duffel bag mi hu-roll na kiondo,
The rap rebel, punguza base eka treble,
Maindi ndio staple, ugali juu ya table,
Long live the King niko connected kama cable,
Young Gifted and Black ka eight ball kwa pool table,
Too many men, not enough balls
Namba nane baby I got. . eight balls!!

(chorus (DQ))
On and,
On till early morning,
This is how we're rollin',
Uptown downtown callin',
Vile Inafaa!
On and,

On till early morning,
This is how we're rollin',
Uptown downtown callin',
Vile Inafaa!
 
(verse 2 - Drummer Queen)
Wanadhani ngoma poa ati ndio wajibambe,
Kumbe ndio kupatia msoto notice ini hame,
Kumbe bora kuflow hata kama mi ka-barbie,
Kuchanganya ma accent kama mimi mlami,
Na uki-measure flow kama day mi ni ngware,
Kupiga marhymes boka kama fundi wa mawe quarry,
Aih...bauss lady,
Eh...si usare,
Haiezi mpaka mtambue nani ni mkare,
Nilikua na haraka, so nikatoka jana,
By the time ulinotice, ilikuwa already mchana,
Sai uko kwenye traffic bumper to bumper,
Ati “jam nakam"...ati "jam nakam”,
By the time ukifika itakuwa too late,
Nilishajaza show from the front to the gate,
A rapper drummer singer I already sealed your fate,
If I was you I would leave the game at this rate,
Ha!

(chorus )  X2

verse 3
(OCTO)
I'm the man with the base bro, uliza Sony,
Madem nawakulisha pembe then nawaacha so horny,
Wengine wako njaa mtaani they still yawning,
Im a child soldier so please stop Kony,
Haters no strings attached...wifi,
Fans five fingers up...hi five,
Kimbelembele kwa hii place hauskii haifai,
Why lie I’m the real deal for now good bye,

(DQ)
I like to roll deep with the dead, presidents,
Chilling in my wallet, kicking it, residents,
So I can get everything I want, precedent,
All my people living real good, yeah it's evident,
A bauss lady, personality...eminent,
Brought up in the 254...represent,
Raised up with that Nairoberry...temperament,
Cross me it'll be to your...detriment!

(chorus)   X2

Muthoni Drummer Queen
Octopizzo number nane
(OCTO)- Baby
(DQ) Dillie. . . .
LEGOO!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Let it burn. Breathe deep. Stay still. Elevate. Upgrade.

I fall down hard; 60 kgs and counting, plus the cares of the world stuck on my back, we come crashing down of God’s earth.
It shakes, but it does not break.

I lie still, not moving, not breathing for a while.

The view from the here seems familiar. I know this place. I know this feeling. I have cried these hot tears brewing at the back of my throat, the front of my chest.
This scent, defeat, I know it well. For all my best intentions, I am back at the place I was before. This cycle never ends.

I lie still, not moving, crushed and burning on god’s good earth.

Turns out that the world is a treacherous place, that words often spoken in the dark, in hushed tones between lovers hearts are just words, and agreements made in broad daylight in offices backed by currency are just intentions that are mostly negated, and that for all the will in the world, the pursuit of my happiness on stage and in life is connected to individuals outside my desire or ability to control.

The loneliness weighs heavy on me, as heavy as a leaf must be to a team of ants. Nothing could be more monumental.

I lie still, not moving, crushed and burnt out on this unyielding earth.

Gravity denies me the freedom to soar in the sky where we laugh in sunshine and speak in Technicolor.

A sequence appears in my head. On loop. its goes...

Let it burn. Breathe deep. Stay still. Elevate. Upgrade.

I do not know what it means, but my weary heart desires reprieve.

Please be so.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

An open letter to the musicians who went before us

An open letter to the musicians who went before us

Re: Stop making music a free commodity

Dear artists who went before us,
First I begin by thanking you very much for all the work you put in getting the main stream masses of this here our Kenya come around to the idea of home grown, home made music. Thank you for the continued war with Radio and TV stations to get Kenyan content on high rotation. Thank you for investing in better videos and such promo material. It would seem we are getting somewhere. It would seem.

Now, onto the little matter of making music free commodity. You ask me how? I tell you how.

The way its meant to work is that fans are supposed to support the career of an artist by buyng the music, the merchandise, the concert tickets, the artists apps and all that good stuff that is the artists and associated with the artist. But look at the scenario right now in this here Kenya. Corporate Kenya as well as Club owners negotiate with artists for their performance fees and most times pay upfront and what may be considered a good amount. They then spend time and MONEY to advertise and host the event which is FREE for the public. Together so far? Stay with me please..Take Musician X. Say I watch him today at the concert Face off where the entry is Ksh one bamba 50, then I watch him in another week at the COE constitution review activation for free, then I watch same artist X at another activation road show event where the cost is a further Ksh FREE. Now, my claim is that im going to all this venues because this is my favourite artist in the world, but I have never needed to pay a penny to see him. So when his album does come out..my mind set is already on FREE. I mean think about this, whatever I don't get on the radio for FREE, I can catch at his gig FOR FREE so in my head my favorite musician in the world= FREE. No thanks to buying his brand new album for Ksh 500. which, by the way, is exactly what it will cost me for a double Gin& Tonic at my favourite club in westlands, where incidentally the entry is FREE and the music that is mostly off my favotites artists portfolio..is a further FREE.

Dear Musicians who went before us, Mainstream music=FREE to the Kenyan audiences. This is not a way to build a sustainable career. This is the short cut to the shortest shelf life of music ever

Dear musicians who went before us, this strategy needs to change. We need you to get into the performing circuit. We need you to organise your own gigs, and put some work into the live act and then charge entrance at the door so that fans can relate you with a worth. We need you to negotiate with event organisers so that you are not on the billing of free shows more than thrice a year. You deserve our support, now make us make that mental connection that reads my favourite musician= VALUE.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

MIKONO KWENYE HEWA


Written by M.Ndonga


Chorous:
Mikono kwenye hewa/ Mikono kwenye hewa/
Mikono up juu na kwenye hewa/
Mikono kwenye hewa/ Mikono kwenye hewa/
Mikono up juu na kwenye hewa/
Na wengine mikono chini ndani ya mashati/
Na wengine mikono ndani ya mifuko wazi/
Na wengine mikono kwenye chupa na glassy/
Na wengine mikono up juu na kweney hewa/

Bargames/ type A bargins/
Willing buyers, wiling sellers/
Her name is Stella, looking at the fella, he trying to figure out what to tell her/
Smiles/ hidden agendas/
Each thinks the other to be a pretender/
But they exchange the names/ and they play the games,/with a poker face/ they make a pact on their undone acts/
Now ndio apate physical elevation/ lazima kwanza atoe physical motivation/
Like drinks to get the conversation going and drinks/ to get the party really flowing/
Up and away suddenly it’s a new day / he knew a good lay is some tequila away/
He rolls to his side with a thought on his mind/
cos the last thing he heard was the MC say/

Chorous:
Mikono kwenye hewa/ Mikono kwenye hewa/
Mikono up juu na kwenye hewa/
Mikono kwenye hewa/ Mikono kwenye hewa/
Mikono up juu na kwenye hewa/
Na wengine mikono chini ndani ya mashati/
Na wengine mikono ndani ya mifuko wazi/
Na wengine mikono kwenye chupa na glassy/
Na wengine mikono up juu na kweney hewa/


Marriage/ type A bargain/ willing buyers willing sellers of tomorrow/
Forever is much too long to be alone plus hidden agendas/Like/
Too much history/ too much ambiguity/ a need for binding social security/
So they exchange the names/ with a pompous act/ they make a pact/
Now ndio apate physical elevation/ lazima kwanza atowe physical motivation/
Like a house/to get her and her family talking/ cos the house is in a status quo location/
Up and away/ suddenly it’s a new day/ she knew a good life was a name away/
She rolls to her side with a smile on her mind and pumps the song where the MC says/

Chorous:
Mikono kwenye hewa/ Mikono kwenye hewa/
Mikono up juu na kwenye hewa/
Mikono kwenye hewa/ Mikono kwenye hewa/
Mikono up juu na kwenye hewa/
Na wengine mikono chini ndani ya mashati/
Na wengine mikono ndani ya mifuko wazi/
Na wengine mikono kwenye chupa na glassy/
Na wengine mikono up juu na kweney hewa/


Na wengine, wengine mna jidai/
Na wengine, pengine mmesota/
Na wengine, pengine mnachora/
Na wengine/ pengine mnaroga


Dara ra ra ra….

Chorous:
Mikono kwenye hewa/ Mikono kwenye hewa/
Mikono up juu na kwenye hewa/
Mikono kwenye hewa/ Mikono kwenye hewa/
Mikono up juu na kwenye hewa/
Na wengine mikono chini ndani ya mashati/
Na wengine mikono ndani ya mifuko wazi/
Na wengine mikono kwenye chupa na glassy/
Na wengine mikono up juu na kweney hewa/

Mikono kwenye hewa/
Hewa…

SILENCE LYRICS

Written by M. Ndonga, J. A. Namu, S. Chege

This is what silence means/
This is what silence means/

When they walk into your house and/ sit at your table/
Eat your bread and drink your tea/
You won’t even know cos /you were sleeping/
They didn’t wake you/ from your dreaming/
Your dreams were colored in gold/

Chorus:
They will try and take everything from you/
Shout/ Make some noise/
So scream before they take away your voice too/
Shout/ scream/ make some noise/
They will try and take everything from you/
Shout/ scream/ make some noise/
So scream before they take away your voice too/
Shout/ scream/ make some noise/

This is what silence means/
Remember, remember/
This is what silence means/
Remember, remember/7th July

When you’re walking down the street and/ buy the paper/
Turn on the radio/ watch the news/
Do you really see us when were matching into/
Clouds that sting for rights we thought we won for kids at home/
Do you really see what’s going on/

Chorus:
They will try and take everything from you/
Shout/ Make some noise/
So scream before they take away your voice too/
Shout/ scream/ make some noise/
They will try and take everything from you/
Shout/ scream/ make some noise/
So scream before they take away your voice too/
Shout/ scream/ make some noise/

This is what silence means/
Haki yetu/
Haki yetu/

Kumbka kumbuka/ saba saba/
GSU tear gas town/
Sioni sababu/ machozi na damu/
Kuyasahau/Oh oh oh

The law does not allow for police brutality/
The police are not the judge and jury/ (Utumishi kwa wote)
They are trying to break your voice/
But it is powerful/ not even their blows can stop us
We are unbwogable
Why is my country so dark ( mulika mwizi)
Did you say you have an eight month old alone at home/ I was worried for my six year old/ and I for my 8 year old son/
And I for my 13 year old who is a candidate this year/
And Bilha does not talk/ She carries a baby she might lose in her womb (najihurumia kuwa mkenya)

Chorus:
They will try and take everything from you/
Shout/ Make some noise/
So scream before they take away your voice too/
Shout/ scream/ make some noise/
They will try and take everything from you/
Shout/ scream/ make some noise/
So scream before they take away your voice too/