Queen of hip-hop going places

Friday December 7 2012

Rap musician Keko performing at the German Cultural Centre in Kampala. Photo/Morgan Mbabazi

Rap musician Keko performing at the German Cultural Centre in Kampala. Photo/Morgan Mbabazi Nation Media Group

By Bamuturaki Musinguzi

Multi-talented, award-winning Ugandan hip-hop artist Jocelyn Tracy Keko was not worried about joining the male dominated genre; for her it was all about expressing herself musically.

Keko, noted for her lyrical prowess, continues to dominate the music scene in East Africa with her enduring chart hits.

“I went into hip-hop because this is what I want and this is the best way or avenue I could express myself. I love music and rap, male dominated or not; I do what I do for the fans and they demand the best of me. It’s a challenge,” Keko, a rapper and composer told The EastAfrican.

“I mainly rap about day to day life experiences from the club to church and storytelling. The message is intrinsic to each listener ranging from domestic violence to urban youth culture,” she adds.

She rose to fame in 2010 with the release of her single Fallen Heroes. Her songs include Born for Killing, Akello, Black, Hey Hey and Alwoo (Cry for Help) on domestic violence. The success of How We Do It landed her an endorsement deal with Pepsi Cola’s Mountain Dew advertising campaign in Uganda.

Keko has won several awards including Channel O Video Music Awards - Most Gifted East African Video (2011); Buzz Teeniz Awards — Best Female (How We Do It 2011); Buzz Teeniz Awards — Best Upcoming Artiste (“How We Do It” 2011); Pearl of Africa Music Awards — Best Hip Hop Song (“How We Do It” 2011); East African Music Awards — Most Promising Artiste (2011); Buzz Teeniz Awards — Best Female (2012) and Diva Awards – Hip Hop Diva (2012).

Keko’s latest chart topping club hit entitled Make You Dance featuring Kenyan rapper/producer Madtraxx has become a smash hit on radio stations across Africa.

The video has also been shown on leading music television channels and is hitting the charts on the continent. This success has many media publications dubbing her “the next big thing.”

It did come as a surprise when Sony Music Entertainment Africa signed Keko to a multi-album and full management deal; she joins other young female African artists on Sony’s RCA label such as Kenya’s Xtatic and South Africa’s Toya Delazy.

Keko is currently in the studio recording tracks for her debut full-length album with various young producers in South Africa including ClassyMenace and The Fahrenheitz.

The album is scheduled to be released late 2012 or early 2013, as part of the multi-album recording deal with Sony Music Entertainment and a full services management deal with Sony Music and ROCKSTAR4000 ensuring the Keko campaign impacts across Africa and, ultimately, the global music scene.

“With Sony, I have just released one single Let Me Go, which is doing better than we imagined. The video is already playing on major music channels across the continent and worldwide,” she said.

“Being signed to Sony means so many things: progress, working with experienced people — which is an exciting learning process for me. It means I can have a wider reach locally and internationally,” she added.

In her response to those who argue that Africa has embraced hip-hop music from the US to the detriment of other genres, she said: “That is not true; it is unfair. Radio and television play what the people want.”

Keko has performed in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and the US. She performed at the Big Brother Africa 6 Amplified show in South Africa in 2011.