Since 1902

By Caroline Nyanga

Pulse: Your songs Pressure, Butcherman and Inakubambia Wapi have been well received what is the secret behind your success?

Cartel: I think it all comes down to doing proper research and finding out what people want to hear in terms of good music before I can record a song. Other factors include patience, determination and hard work. I have learnt not to give up easily. And behind all these lies God who has been my greatest strength and motivation.

P: Is there a formula for creating a hit song?

C: Yeah. It entails a number of things that an artiste must learn to abide by. They include having the right hook, catchy beats, proper flow and good message. It has to be music that people can relate with easily.

P: What inspired the title of your song Butcherman?

C: Well, it revolves around daily happenings within the society in relation to my estate. A situation where most butchers have a tendency to favour women over men when it comes to serving sizeable portions of meat.

P: Why are most of your shows outside Nairobi considering your songs are popular on the airwaves?

C: It is unfortunate that local promoters based in Nairobi have a habit of dealing with the same clique of artistes. I sometimes wonder... but whatever the agreement, it’s not clear because the same people always seem to perform over and over again. All the same I love performing outside Nairobi. We call the outside shows — extreme. This is because fans out there love our music and make us feel at home.

P: What makes your music different from the rest?

C: The fact that you need to be physically fit and flexible in order to do the dance and sing. Also the fact that no one else does it makes me unique.

Amazingly, the initial reception was great and it keeps getting better with time.

P: If I knew nothing about you musical style, Katen’ga, how would your music impact on me?

C: My music falls under the genre of those that people can easily relate to in terms of its flow, beats, and messages. I always avoid doing hardcore rap in order to reach out easily to my fans. My styles comprise hip-hop, a fusion of rock and African beat. My take is Kateng’a for life.

P: Do you think the media is doing enough to promote your kind of music locally?

C: I think a lot has changed compared to many years back. The media has done a tremendous job in uplifting the local entertainment scene. The lord of this without question is Pulse Magazine.

P: We hear you have a new project tell us more?

C: I am working on a song called Dame Wa Mathree — a series with six videos. It is set to be released in August. Others that I have done include Jipange na Maisha featuring Miti of Mashifta. Producer K-Mo of Kamatta Entertainment is doing a good job.

P: Who inspires you to do music?

C: American rapper 50 Cent. He has come a long way and prove that he has what it takes in terms of releasing good music.

P: What is with the stage name Cartel?

C: Cartel stands for someone with a big body who’s capable of doing the Kateng’a style perfectly thus making his way into the hearts of the music fans. As an artiste I am neither mainstream nor underground but somewhere in between the two.

P: So does music pay all your bills?

C: Well, I cannot complain much. I get paid whenever I am called upon to do shows and this caters for part of my bills. I am an accountant by profession. For the past four years I haved worked for a consultancy firm in Nairobi.

P: Is it easy juggling music and work?

C: Nope, on the contrary it’s quite tasking. All the same I usually find time off my busy schedules during weekends to embark on music projects.

P: What are some of the challenges you are facing?

C: The main challenge is lack of consistent funds to enable me finish my project on time. Others are part of the game, which I have learnt to cope with.

P: Tell us some of the highest and lowest moments of your music career?

C: The highest must have been when I released the hit song Pressure. Its reception was amazing besides catapulting me into the limelight. The lowest was when a fake promoter invited us to perform at a Mombasa club only to realise that he had not done his job well. Our show was cancelled and we were given total blackout.

P: Have you always been interested in music?

C: Music has been a part of me ever since I was a pupil at Pangani Primary, Nakuru up to Aquinas and Jamhuri High Schools. I was part of the rap team of five-dubbed South Cartel. We entertained students and we were part of the Basketball supporting team. We later broke up because the rest of the team were not serious.

P: What are your future plans as far as music is concerned?

C: I plan on taking my music to the next level. With Barrack Obama’s win — Kateng’a must go international — Yes We Can. I also intend to change the lives of youth through music.

P: Where can you be found on a Saturday night?

C: Somewhere, inside Blu Times Club partying and catching up on the weeks happenings with friends. It is one of my favourite joints.

P: Musicians are known to indulge in lavish lifestyles revolving around money, women, wine and bling. Where do you fall?

C: Well money elevates us into the celebs we are, the blings are our trademark and pombe ni lazima. But as for women, I have someone special in my life. She works and lives in Nairobi.