Since hip hop’s inception in the early 70’s, rap battling and beefing has been instrumental for emcees and rappers around the world wanting to claim the genre’s top spot. 2017 has started on a high note with a beef brewing between two unlikely rappers; Kingsko Ligih and Ukoo Flani Mau Mau rap legend Joseph Githinji Matigari better known as G. Rongi.
And since beefing/battling reveals lyrical prowess and comic sharpness that leaves the culture entertained and opponents satisfied with a good match, Kampala Dispatch’s Michael Wandati in an exclusive interview, reveals the brewing beef between the two Dandora (an eastern suburb in Nairobi, Kenya) rappers Kingsko and G. Rongi, who have decided to take their lyrical feuds/feelings to another level.
KD: Who is Kingsko Ligih and G. Rongi?
“I am a revolutionary MC, a social entrepreneur, G.Y.R founder member, and Chief Communications Director at Young Africans for Africa Organization. Basically I’m the only different hip hop artist, Kenya Music Co-operative (KEMCOOP) fraternity can concur. I’ve been representing Dandora since birth, nothing can stop that,” said Kingsko.
For G. Rongi, family and responsibility comes first then everything else follows.
“I am a father, teacher and an artist. I represent Dandora city, my call sign is Mr D but currently am based in Paris, so I also have to represent code plus thirty three (+33), that’s where am representing right now,” replied G. Rongi, whose ensuing social media rant has led to notoriety.
Both Kingsko and G. Rongi are well known for their hard-hitting lyrical content that is honest and effortless when behind the microphone.
The writing process of Kingsko’s music, according to him, involves the balancing of inspiration and reality that himself believes in. His life experience defines his lyrical content.
“No time for faking like most of these self-proclaimed kings,” rubbished Kingsko while responding to his supposed detractors who he claims; “are trying to match his level.”
On the other hand, without breaking a sweat, G. Rongi’s writing process involves focusing on the message he wants to address. The nostalgic rapper boasts of experience, reminding critiques of his 15 years of hard-work experience in the rap industry.
“It’s about knowing what you want to achieve out of your talent, what you want to communicate, and how far you can push your limits. Honesty helps me a lot because what goes around comes around. Most artists don’t know that the words they put out there, will always come back to haunt them,” said G. Rongi.
“I used to be negative with everyone and anyone against my thoughts, but now, I am kind of open-minded and I can think freely without assuming any tittles. It’s more than hip hop — it’s all about educating the society for the betterment of the present and future generation,” G. Rongi added.
G. Rongi’s regret is that today’s generation is being affected by greed, jealousy and political divisions which are taking the society backwards.
“The gap is getting bigger but that doesn’t mean we lose hope or not be the best in what we do. I guess my rap skills are shaped by society, and it’s a blessing to find happiness in grievance,” said G. Rongi in conclusion to what inspires his music.
Considering that Kingsko and G. Rongi represent the same hood; Dandora, and now they have developed some kind of personal differences musically, Kampala Dispatch tried to find out if any of the two believes he is the future of hip hop in Dandora/Eastlands and Kenya at large.
“Everybody knows that Kingsko is the future of hip hop not only in Dandora, but in Kenya entirely, the question wasn’t a must. Until they match my catalogue, I have nothing to explain,” Kingsko proclaimed.
On hearing the remarks, G. Rongi did not take Kingsko’s statement lightly. He rubbished his proclamation reminding him of his years of experience in the rap industry. G. Rongi proclaimed reigning not only Dandora or Kenya’s hip hop fraternity, but the whole of Africa.
“No doubt. I see no competition. All I see is high energy and I’ve got them both. It took me a lot of mistakes to be where I am right now, and I’m not here to be given, I’m here to take.
No debate, in Dandora they call me Mr D, in Nairobi, Kenya they call me G. Rongi, in Africa they call me Black Mamba, but that’s another topic for another day,” replied the fearless G. Rongi who seems to have opened a Pandora’s Box in the region’s rap industry.
With the brewing beef engulfing Kingsko and G. Rongi, we asked the two rap artists for a comment on beefing among Kenyan rappers which has been so common over the years.
“Aaah!, I personally don’t believe in rumors. Most of these 254 (Kenyan) rappers are attention seekers — as we have this topic around, its better they explain their version of “beef” and what it entails? Anyway, I believe in positivity,” said Kingsko, a response that was sarcastically fired at G. Rongi.
“All I know is that I already shut it long time ago on “Kaburi bila Misalaba” (Grave without crosses) song. Nobody wants beef; with all they have got are excuses. They all know I got more than 16 for any upcoming, existing and non-existing so called rappers — I got 16 for even the future rappers in the sperm bank or incubators or wherever they are on their knees. Excuse my language,” G. Rongi fired back.
KD: How the beef between Kingsko and G. Rongi started
What’s at the heart of this revivified discourse is the question of ownership over creativity.
Just recently, G. Rongi raised social media rants against fellow rapper Kingsko Ligih that he (Kingsko), is exploiting other artists and producers he worked with on ‘Safari Ya Rero’album by not recognizing or accrediting their input in the 2 in 1 album compilation project — an allegation Kingsko has vehemently retaliated.
“Since she’s (G. Rongi) more concerned about credits, its due time ‘she’ apply for some position at Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO). My work was to push sales of the album, bring business and money in, not to stage issues with non-partisan.
The moment ‘she’ will realize it’s all about money-value here in Kenya, am sure we will relate, nothing personal,” replied the furious Kingsko who kept on referring to G. Rongi as a female (she) despite the public’s knowledge of G. Rongi’s sexual orientation known to be male.
“I think Mohjay can elaborate much more concerning this issue. All I know is that there was nothing like ‘Safari Ya Rero’being Kingsko’s project as he claims. Kingsko was just featured on this project just like other artists who he never mentions in his interviews. No hard feelings, just speaking my mind,” G. Rongi replied.
“After listening to the whole project consisting of 32 tracks, 15 artists were produced by Mohjay who happens to be my good friend, I visit him regularly at his studio in Hannover, Germany because we are working on mad projects,” G. Rongi added.
Kingsko, in his response, refers to G. Rongias an attention seeker who is currently based in Paris – France, provoking him to help him get his name back in Africa if he dares to retaliate.
“He was not there, he doesn’t know anything about the project, and he is dwelling on the past referring to an interview I did two years ago with a local publication. I’m more than two albums deep after that,” said Kingsko.
“Look, he is not even in Kenya, it’s not about the truth, it’s about provoking me to help him get hisname back here in Africa if I retaliate in any manner.
It can only be fair if you don’t mention his name because right now, I can’t just play his cards. If he was featured in the project, that could be good, but I know in this case, the ninja doesn’t even have a clue where we did the project, how it was done and why it was started,” Kingsko strikes back.
It is widely known that hip hop fans ever since the inception of rap music, have since become inured to fabricated beefs and fake news to promote new material from artists.
To make it clear and on record, Kampala Dispatch tasked Kingsko to take us through in the making of ‘Safari Ya Rero’ project that featured over 40 artists.
“First of all, I have to make it clear, Safari Ya Rero had over 40 artists involved in it. It was a double CD (2 in 1) and it had 31 tracks including the interludes and intro. Secondly, I am for the people and I don’t believe in selfishness like some of “my fellow members,” said Kingsko.
“Over the years of my beautiful career, I have met a lot of talented rappers with less exposure, and they always ask for a hand on how to uplift what they have and believe in as we interact. I always have to save the contact just in case I can help.
Now in this case, we raised an idea on how we can show some love back to the community, and that’s how we had to do a complete project in order to mix the new artists with the already established one’s, and we push it to the world for both recognition and growth of the industry in the hip hop zone.
So I got back to my people and invited them for this experience, and for sure I can tell you this for free, the new artists made us proud, they shined with extraordinary classic verses and singles in the album. Maybe someone somewhere (G. Rongi) was ‘jealous’ for not being invited. It’s a disease, get well soon yo!,” Kingsko unleashed a bombshell.
As the two artists attacked each other verbally, we got interested in knowing if G. Rongi has so far received any flak from Kingsko’s loyal fans for claiming he (Kingsko) is using or exploiting other artists.
“What fans other than wannabe rappers? Back off wannabe rappers of wannabe rappers who’s a troll groupie. Kingsko and ‘her’ fans can’t tell me shit. He will get ‘her’ visa revoked G man says so,” replied G. Rongi while attacking Kingsko loyal fans who bashed him on social media.
Kampala Dispatch insisted to know who are the artists and producer/s Kingsko worked with on Safari Ya Rero album?
“I can’t mention all of them now, I told you ni wengi (they are many) but for some; Young Haze, Ram Dee Kina, Kevin Kwali, Munga Bless (DSG), Vox Mistari, Eli Priest, Levie (K-Pac), The Late Tash (R.I.P Mshamba Mwenza), Mike Easy and 32 others. Hehehehe… so many I tell you. For producers, we have Mohjay, U.B and Ananda,” Kingsko named.
Looking at some of the big hip hop names in Kenya that are coming out with albums, there are a lot of rappers trying to stay relevant and commercially successful with their third, fifth, eighth albums, which is kind of uncharted territory for the genre, Kampala Dispatch asked if the two artists worry about this trend?
“They call me Don Wori (Don’t worry)… My path is different from them all, so I don’t know about them but over here, greatness only,” said G. Rongi.
“I really adore that plus respect that. It’s very exciting since it proves they believe in the genre, they have hope in it, they are bonded in it through love and not just money as mostly assumed. We are all surviving and serving those who support us,” Kingsko replied.
There’s a difference between being brave and actually making great Music. Pioneering Kenyan hip hop crews like K-Shaka, K-South, Wenyeji, Wakamba Wawili and others are an obvious example of hip hop crews with individuals who were and are also amazing and popular. But I don’t know if you can say the same thing for someone like Kingsko Ligih?, we asked G. Rongi.
“Kingsko like stealing ideas, and then run with them until they expire, then he looks for another one. He is an opportunist wannabe. Hustler, I don’t claim or proclaim anything I am not,” G. Rongi replied.
Kingsko in response to the same question on G. Rongi, he said; “Hahaha… I don’t even comprehend how the names are in the same sentence man! No matter how hardcore the music was from K-Shaka, it helped to elevate the mind and actually see the bigger picture, thus the knowledge to the ghetto dwellers.
But how can one try tell a growing youth to actually be ignorant to the psychological path of reality that will help him/her get over current circumstance? That’s the difference between a rapper and an MC. I rest my case in this man.”
We asked the two if a rap artist can make it in Kenya. The real question here is, can rap artist from Kenya make it anywhere?
G. Rongi laughed and simply said “mafisi kibao” (many hyenas)
And as for Kingsko, he said; “It’s not a monopoly state. We have over 40 Kings… hehehehe… Ka kuna mwere anajichocha ali make it, hakuna mtu hawezi make! (if there is any fool claiming he made it, there is no one who can’t make it)
Anyway, now serious, define “making it?” Just like any other business, it depends on one’s focus/vision when it comes to your brand. Keep the dreams alive no matter the energy surrounding you — you define your own ability.”
We further asked the two rappers, if they had to pick one song to be the soundtrack of their life, what would it be and why?
“Fyatua by G. Rongi. Reason being that’s me, the real me, and nothing will ever change me. It all started there, and that’s where I go back to find strength to keep me going and provide more,” G. Rongi said.
“Rhythm ya Life (Echos) by Kingsko Ligih and Kevin Kwali, Nielewe Mixtape 2012 and Nione DVD 2015 – Audio by Pro Nik (Greenlight Media) and video by Johnson Kyalo (Top Notch Films)
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I love this song, we described life in 3 minutes and how it actually recurs in these Ghettos. Relating with the verses, we explained everything from relationships, politics, hate, rich, poor, past plus future. The best part was, even the sessions behind it, both audio and video. One word… superb! I feel it daily, that’s even my ringtone and Skiza (call back ringtone),” said Kingsko.
KD: Any Last word?
“Kingsko f@#k you nothing personal, just don’t f@#k up the biz,” G. Rongi said.
“Always be you, usitishwe na watiriri (don’t be threatened by snitches). Kuna watu wana roho mbaya na chafu, wangekua ng’ombe wangetoa maziwa meusi! (there are people with dark/bad heart, if they were a cow, they would produce black milk) Don’t mind them, stay busy. #GYRmsee #ZaidiYaTelly here,” said Kingsko.