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Artiste: My first time in Nairobi, I slept in a mathree


Veryl Mkali Wao is one of Kenya’s most promising female emcees. A Nakuru native, Mkali Wao remembers her first visit to Nairobi vividly.

“I was a struggling rapper when I was called for a show at Tribeka. Mark you, I didn’t know anybody and as an upcoming artiste I was being paid with ‘exposure’,” she says.

Armed with a few coins in her pocket, she decided to buy time in the club after her performance although she couldn’t afford any food or drinks.

“By 3.30 am, revelers had started leaving the club and I didn’t have anywhere to go so I proceeded to the matatu stage where I begged a driver to let me catch a nap. Luckily I found a goodhearted driver who understood my situation. I went back to Nakuru tired and hungry,” she says.

Although this was her first time, Nairobi hadn’t been easy on her thanks to her naivety. Her second encounter left her lost completely.

“I once got lost on the streets of Nairobi and I asked a stranger for directions. He offered to take me where I was going. I trusted the ‘Good Samaritan’ because he told me a ‘woishe’ story that was so persuasive.

“He asked for my phone so he could make a phone call, and I fell for it because he sounded stressed. After kumpea simu and akapiga he said the network was poor so he said anatafuta network akitembea. How he disappeared with my phone still remains a mystery to date,” she says reminiscing about her lost phone and how she had to find her way all on her own.

Despite all the challenges, Mkali Wao is slowly stamping her authority in the industry. Her debut album, Shadow of Death, is a social commentary on the dark side of being a female emcee and all the other challenges emcees face.

Shadow of Death consists of 14 tracks that contain well-conveyed emotions and properly constructed concepts that bring out the entire picture of her musical journey, struggles, and challenges.

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