Who is a Kenyan MC?

I’m at that point in my life where I define things in my own way. To me, an MC has nothing to do with being underground and broke and raps about ghetto (I’m typing this from the ghetto so I don’t need to be told how it is like to live here) and bills and weed with a DMX-Sean Price kind of aggressive tone. An MC, is, in my [biased] opinion;

An MC is a poet. He must have lots of sense in his writing told through metaphors, grammar and razor blade imagination. Teetotaller or not, he knows what a bar is and – lips on his brain – is not afraid to speak his mind. If your shit is full of self-effacing, braggadocio rhymes like how other rappers ain’t shit, fuck you and your mdundo links. An MC must create imagery, a believable story line and emotion. Comedy in the name of punchlines? Try slam poetry. By poetry I also don’t mean the Greek bullshit the likes of MC Spook (he is my boy) and Apollo Creed do. It doesn’t make you any smarter to rap about hierogylphics. What you’re doing is transcription of knowledge without internalization, from someone’s book to the mike. Try Christian rap if ancient gods and goddesses is your idea of under/anger/hungerground Hiphop as far as spiritual [r]evolution is concerned.

An MC is a rebel. An Mc should stand for/against something. Be either awakening, Pan-Africanism, Black consciousness, ghettoism (Tupacism), spirituality…you don’t just rap without a motive. What’s your theme? Ya’ll know what Immortal Technique stood for: revolution.

An MC is a reader. You don’t kick knowledge from thin air. Be a lover of books. Not just books but books. Mein Kampf type of shit. Read about Black history, genetics, Buddhism, Taoism, poetry. Read for inspiration and not to appear a smart-ass.

An MC is cultural. Rapping in English is fine. It proves diversity; that you can learn a foreign language, its semantics, slang and diction and flow with it perfectly on a beat. So give Khaligraph a break. But then again, don’t copy the muse. Don’t talk about guns, Bugatti and cocaine. You don’t live that life. By being cultural means appreciating the Kenyan/African environment. There is something magical about rapping in Swahili/Sheng. Then there’s tribal rap! That shit feels good. It encompasses our struggle, our muse, our hope. Toast to Raj, Smallz Lethal, G Rongi and ’em.

An MC should listen to other MCs/poets. If all you know is Ukoo Flani Maumau and Kitu Sewer and Talib Kweli and Immortal Technique, then you should be shot. Mention Supastition, Professa P, Elzhi, MF Doom, Lex Starwind, Victor Vaughn or regular niggers like Sean Price or Showbiz & A.G. Explore good music. There are terabytes of good mixtapes, LPs, EPs, albums churned out everyday. I don’t need to tell you where to look.

An MC should choose good beats. Just because you have a good flow and can kill a Lingala beat doesn’t prove anything. Have a beat that talks to me. The I might like your voice. I love jazzy kicks and snares. Mostly, I love all sampled beats with a good hook. But this is me. Don’t try to impress me. I’m a nobody and won’t probably buy your shit. I have my own shit to worry about. Sick of listening to it as you might guess.

An MC is real. I don’t know what staying real means. It has nothing to do with hoodies and boots. Weed and crime. Or tattoos or posting Greek gods on Facebook. It means living the truth. It means being humble and loving your brother. It means getting a job. Being responsible. Buying other people’s music. Respecting women and taking care of your ass in these savage streets. Smoking what you roll. Giving back to society in your little ways. You ain’t gotta be rich or popular to lend a hand. Being real means being aware. Aware that you may never be famous. That you can die any minute. That there are snakes in this industry. That your producer depends on you and will only promote you if your shit sells. Be aware that you’re getting old. Your time on this earth is limited. You don’t have to make a living off music. That is what “staying or keeping it real” means.

Being an MC is being yourself above everything. Which is to say, none of the above should define you – I’m just an expressionist and crazy lover of Hiphop!