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Navio: Uganda’s hip-hop King

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Updated Fri, July 17th 2009 at 00:00 GMT +3

Respect, a captivating hard-rap lyrical song by Navio, featuring Kenya’s Jua Cali is the latest hit in Kampala, Uganda. And when the song hits Kenya this weekend during Navio’s visit —to shoot the video and finish his other collabo recording with Wyre -— I bet the song will command respect in the local music scene.

"I love Jua Cali’s style. He is unique and that is how we got to blend. Both of us like to play the game with old lines. I respect him."

Welcome to Navio’s world, the fKlear Kut lyricist is causing ripples across the continent.

"I was born in Nairobi Kenya and schooled in St Andrew Turi until I was 11 years. My family then moved to Kampala. After a while, I headed to South Africa for my further studies," Navio says. He speaks with a n articulate English accent and poses with a swagger that suggests he has been around the world and back.

"My background provided a good atmosphere for me to develop my rapping skills. When I went to South Africa, I started playing for the North West Province basketball team. Hip-hop and basketball go hand in hand and at that point I knew I knew rap was my calling," he adds.

In his song Ngalo (Hands Up) Navio insinuates big showbiz shots from the West tried to compromise him to change his East African status and cut a major recording deal, an offer he turned down saying; "East Africa is my home."

Before going solo, Navio was one of the members of the popular Klear Kut rap group which he maintains that he still belongs to.

"He is still part of us. The various members of Klear Kut are working on solo projects right now. We will get back together for a reunion project in 2010 after everyone is done with their solo projects," confirms Tha Mith, a fellow Klear Kut member who has be featuring in most of Navio’s concerts.

"I have been working on my debut album The Week of September. Papito released CV in 2007 while Langman is in German doing on his thing. Other Klear Kut members like GB and Unique are also working on solo projects," Tha Mith adds.

But it is his unique rapping skills and his ambitious nature that has propelled him high above his fellow Klear Kut group to make his name as the most respected hip-hop act in Uganda.

It is even more interesting that in a span of two years, Navio has broken through an industry which was predominantly ragga to make hip-hop the new phenomenon in Uganda.

His debut album, Half the Legend has had hits such as Bugumu (which features Peter Miles, The Mith and Vamposs) and Respect making it big in MTVbase and other continental charts.

"Sometimes you have to breakthrough by force and that is what hip-hop is all about. You have to keep on feeding it to them until they accept it. That’s how you win the respect," he says adding that it is time that new East Africa stars rose up to conquer the world.

"I have been working with many artistes from 2Face Idibia (Nigeria) to Jua Cali and Wyre (Kenya) as well as local acts Kid Foxx, Peter Miles, Blu 3, Bobi Wine, GNL (Uganda) and many others," he quips.

"Just the other day, Goldenchyll (Tallia’s ex-beau) recorded my new song with Wyre and I’m coming to Kenya next week (this week) to complete the project. I’m sure, the song will blow our fans off."

Even though he comes out as rough and rugged on stage, in real life Navio is a cool and laid back guy full of humourous jokes.

"Kenyans like taking our beautiful. But that’s ok," he jokes as we toast to a drink. "East Africans are unique people and we should be proud of that. Who wants to hear of beef between artistes any more," says the rapper who was also nominated for Channel O Awards last year.

After his Nairobi visit this weekend, Navio will be starting his East African tour which will see him visit Tanzania and Rwanda to popularise his new album.

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