Being Roy Kapale
Back in 2003, at the World AIDS Day celebrations at the National Theatre, a new artiste stepped on stage and started doing a song that was as funny as it was x- rated. Well, it sounded X-rated; something to do with how nice meat is. Then he went on to display some really energetic dancing strokes. The crowd went wild with ecstasy and this was also due to the fact that the guy on stage was a little too smart. This was Roy Kapale in black and white.
Meeting Roy Kapale in person is an experience one will not forget in a short time. The guy vibrates with confidence and there is no way you will forget him. Or get away without being affected in some way. When we sit down for the long awaited interview (long awaited because we kept on changing plans), he is straight from some other engagement and whatever he scored there is still fresh on his mind.
He is the son of Sheldrick Kayizzi and Teopista Lunkuse. He says they are such great influences in his life and he believes they are
The singer who has become a household name in Kampala is smart even off screen, if you have watched his videos. He is not the dandy he comes across as, though. This time around, he was in a brown loose fitting shirt and an army green cap.
Roy Kapale was born 26 years ago and his singing career started early. He was strongly influenced by his parents and the company he kept as a child. Plus the fact that he is fiercely competitive, if he saw something that he believed was good, then he wanted it. So he went out and got it.
As already mentioned, he was singing as far back as primary school. “The teachers spotted my talent very early,” he says. “I was one of those kids who stand out; I was not shy and I was always at the fore front of things. I guess i was a pain for the teachers because I was so stubborn. But then I am grateful because they did not write me off.”
School was a fairy tale for Kapale, it seems. He was given a bursary because of his talents. He was not only a singer who would always strive to entertain. He was also good at drama. “I helped start a drama club in my form 4 and this club attracted many students to the school. The administration was grateful.”
Hard as it might be to believe, he started out singing RnB and rap. Back in the old days, he says it was a stunt for guys to do such music. By then he had not joined mainstream bands. With time, he was noticed by the big guns of the day and he came of age when he joined Univox Mirrors in 1994. This is when he started on band music with the likes of Ronald Mayinja and Bernard Munyigwa. “We were ten, all vying for a position in the band. It was really tight. The interviews saw many of the applicants falling out but I was the best. I joined the group as a dancer. With time, I was training the group’s dancers.”
Even with his music, Kapale had always wanted to join a drama group. He was inspired a lot by the dramas that Bakayimbira Dramactors. “That was about the time they did Ndiwulira,” he tells me. That was also the time that he was escaping from home to go dancing like many other boys his age at that time. His clubs of choice were Missouri in kawempe, Extasy in Banda and Planet Plaza.
But then later on, he went on to join Kato Lubwama’s Diamonds Productions. It was a whole new ball game for him because he realise that he was swimming with the big fish. He strove to sing like betty Mpologoma, Martin Anguma and Kabuye Sembogga. But for a long time, he was at the back of things providing back up for these established artistes.
His first opportunity came when he was given the rap in 2001’s Ebisaanyi by Kabuye Ssembogga. This immensely popular song catapulted him into the limelight and he was not about to walk out on his winning streak. He quickly followed up on this success with Rukiya and a couple of others.
In 2003, he teamed up with princess Sheila Nvannungi to make Nakwesonisa, an up tempo collabo. Unfortunately, it was not well marketed and it fell on its face. That is when the two decided to do their thing separately. The immediate result of this decision was the hit Doctor for Nvannungi and Mukyala Neighbour for Kapale. Since then, we have been given such songs as Ebitaala Bintadde with videos to accompany them.
“Music is my job,” he states. He does not do anything else apart from music. He believes this is the only way he can achieve his dream to be the best in his field. And that is his dream
So what is wrong with Ugandan music? “I think the problem we still face is that artistes are still very jealous of each other. It is difficult to work together when there is no trust whatsoever in the industry,” he says. And of course he also has problems wit the policies that musicians have to grapple with, what with the unfair laws and all.
He admires Jose Chameleon and Mesach Semakula for their unique voices. Plus he also believes that they are the biggest stars in the country. With time, his dreams will probably come to be. And this artiste truly deserves to be on top.
His 'Mukyala Neighbor' track is featured on the Green Lights Ugandan music DVD collection. Click Here to read more about it and to buy the DVD
Saint CA -K'la most outstanding female Hip hop artist
October 2001 saw the birth of an artist who was eager to just how much talent she even had in her. She started dropping freestyles with schoolmates at The Aga Khan High School and she vividly remembers them saying that she’s recording artist quality. She still doesn’t know if they just said that because she’s a girl but it definitely set the ball roooolling! Especially since one of them them was from that group Klear Kut.
One of her goals is to inspire young girls to shine their talents without shaming Him that gave those very talents. Her music is more than doing something she’s good at…it’s about influencing even if just one person out there to not simply “go with the flow”. This should be no surprise considering that she used to suffer from chronic depression and was suicidal. It explains the depth of her lyrics, an attempt to ‘help’ whoever cares to listen.
Despite her intimacy with God, she’s more comfortable simply being referred to as a conscious rapper since most of her music is actually directed at folk outside church circles.
Consequently she has become more known to the fun-lovers.
Introducing Kampala’s female rap sensation, Saint C.A (born Hannah Nanyanzi) Let’s see what we can get out of her.
Why all the initials-C. A, N…?
Considering that the whole world is reading this, being discreet should come in handy. But am sure you’ll find out sooner than later what each stands for.
Tell us about that 3-track promotional CD going around.
It’s a ploy to re-circulate my first single I don’ mind. It did amazingly well in certain circles which persuaded me to have the rest hear it.
There’s a track with the Mith (Klear Kut –great job on that,u)–very brief, very catchy-the sort of thing any D.J would want on his playlist.It’s called party crashin’ by the way. They say it has my tightest verse ever but …I don’t think so. You should have a listen and send in feedback. All tracks were produced by MMC for Little Red Productions.
The title track of the CD is Tafadhali…yeah I know everyone’s talkin’ about it. That song- (pauses, nods head)-it takes my heart with it wherever it goes. I talk about being real, not faking it and there’ve been times when tears have come to my eyes while performing it. I wrote it on my birthday this year…it’s a summary of so many things for me .I remember asking God to make it a song with a difference-straight from the beat and I guess He came through for me.
The CDs have by now reached both Kenya and Tanzania. I’ll give you the first verse from Tafadhali; Swahili for please, at the end of this.
Something about the album?
(Sigh) The much-anticipated album? Tell you the truth I haven’t set a date for its release. I’m done testing the waters and I realize there’s more to an artist than releasing 7 or 10 songs 2 or 3 of which will be appreciated thoroughly and the rest left for the untaken spots in folk tales. I practically have more than enough songs to drop one but I need to pamper the released ones first. One by one. Apart from Betty Anne that features Navio, am really excited about this reggae-like one I wrote recently
The album definitely won’t be monotonous hardcore hip-hop. I need to feel Uganda in it. You should know how proud I am to be African having had to flush out all that commercial brainwashing implanted in me as a child that made me think and live like what I was not.
Your dealings with Alpha 1 Records…
Doug B is producing half of the songs on the album and is including some on the Holy Hip-hop album to be released later this year. I like the fact that he believes we can take over the Ugandan music scene; his boys are doing quite well! Pure Souls, Wood and the rest. My collaborations with the above receive favorable airplay on Power and Kampala FM.That’s Trash, Tawala and Topowa
Both producers have interesting areas of specialization. Yes both can do everything but both do it differently. Moses’MMC’ Sabiiti introduced me to bars-no, that was C-Swift- to the idea of not sitting my creativity on a shelf. So having a bit of each of the best producers in Kampala is a winning advantage.
So…you are the first lady of the Hip-hop Foundation?
Just the most consistent so I wouldn’t call myself that. It’s just something the guys like to call me to show support. Kinda like how they started that most wanted thing.
You know me, don’t you?(giggle)
This year the Education Times magazine did a story on me-2 pages almost. Before that the Sunrise newspaper featured me in their take 2 section and the mainstream papers also make mention of me after some performances. Radio interviews? Not many yet. Then I have these great t-shirts on sale. Yep-they actually buy and wear them.
Well, I can’t dictate what excites people-like some songs am not too enthusiastic about make others scream. But it would have to be the lyrics.
Exactly how do you come up with your apparently numerous compositions? Even some of the big stars have their lyrics done for them.
More often than not am a spontaneous writer, getting inspiration from almost anything. I once wrote about a toothpick. When you get an obsession with something, you’re more likely to get better at it, I sleep with my rhyme book next to ma bed-wake up and it’s the first thing I see, I go with it most everywhere…Basically having kept journals and poetry books since I was 11 makes it easy for me to play with words. I feel like I’ve lived my whole life on paper. The white hugging me, pages becoming a mentor.
Is it true that Navio has a lot to do with why you got into the “game”?
Where did you hear that? I mean, it’s true that from the start he’s been giving me tips but he’s not the only one. It was just a classmate thing; he didn’t say “come, let’s do this together.” It should be more like how not why I got in. I took a verse to him once and he said he could do better and that just…you know. I ended up getting good enough for stage
Lillian (Blu3) was telling me you so could have made it. Apart from the fact that I found out late that rap was permitted, I don’t reckon it was ma time yet. Plus, I guess it ‘d suppress my individuality being in a group.
Would you say that you’ve taken long to really break into the industry?
No-preparation is vital. I’ve had to learn to cope with the ” limelight”…I hated it because I’m a little shy. Wrong word? O.k., I love being low key. Other than that I’ve needed time for basic practice-physically plus getting my voice comfortable. It was a transition from the joking way I took things at the beginning to the C.A who’s now actually putting together an album. Sometimes I think am a totally different person now. From glory to glory they say.
Are you interested in commercialization (if the word exists)?
It’s not my priority. I need the money for continuation of this good thing that God has started in me. Yes He will bring it to completion but I gotta do my part.
So you just love music….
Actually, growing up I hated music but when I ran into the G-man he kinda flipped the coin for me. I basically have a desire to let my words soar-self fulfillment. I talk a lot so getting listened to is like fulfilling my purpose especially since I ain’ about “popping that thang.”I’m about finding self, finding the way, the truth of whatever and the good eternal life. But yes I love a good beat.
Are there other things you would include in your “purpose”?
I just know dat (God willing) am gonna be an influential person- it’s like a fire shut up in ma bones-I feel it all the time. May be I’ll write books later on or become some sorta leader, an extraordinary advertising agent or simply a Sunday school or Kindergarten teacher. A fine artist, an owner of a fashion/interior designing agency, phenomenal photographer or the mother of uncommonly great children. To him whom much is given, much is expected.
Yeah! Big Ben’s East Africa’s finest?(Ponders)I really just wanna go international. I see ma self at big award shows like The Dove Awards or even if just being played on some small radio in a minute town in…Bangladesh? O.k. maybe Alabama. Um…right now am just hoping that my using the English language doesn’t hinder my success regionally coz folk ‘round here have a thing for local languages. All I can do is borrow a few words here and there to spice the songs up. (Looks out window, says to self) I knew ah shoulda gone for Luganda lessons. That Swahili just gonna make me bite ma tongue.
What are your thoughts on the Pearl of Africa Music Awards?
(Scratches head, looks at ceiling.)Frankly…um…(3 minutes later) this is Uganda, man. If that’s the best we can do then that’s ayt. (Weelll…what have we learnt from that?!)
Anyway, why did you stop writing for the most intriguing website in the world?
Music Uganda?!?!(Grin, hesitation). Hard one, but C.A the entertainment reporter is a totally different entity from the rapper so this shouldn’t even be in this section. However I’ll tell you that I was spoilt for choice as regards what to write about and that needed a greater degree of dedication; I’m juggling quite a number of things as it is.
What was the Saint up to between October 2001 and July 2004? Hibernation?!?! I guess not….
Within two weeks after she discovered her unusual skill, she was signed up for the Sanyu Fm Carnival and trust me the Judges at the auditioning weren’t amateurs. Then she did a couple of radio jingoes-some of which play to this very day. Alliance Francais organized a Hip -hop concert and she featured with a low-key French speaking rapper. But the local papers took notice. After that everyone was asking for collaboration with the saint called C.A. The 2002 Alliance show in September, dubbed ‘Hip-hop meets raga’; Uganda’s big boys were there- Chameleon, Bebe Cool but it didn’t stop C.A from making her presence felt. With the gospel rappers Thug Squad backing up her 20-minute act, the paparazzi applauded her bravery by saying,
“Saint was a revelation in her own right. She performed with the demeanor of a girl from ‘around the way’ and with a talent of a young music genius in the making ” and “…proved that Hip-Hop wasn’t all male territory…” Kenya’s Ogopa D.Js hit town, she’s a curtain raiser and there she is sticking to her clean stuff…but the newcomer enthralled the crowd! By then she’d started recording at the acclaimed Vocal Justice studios (now Little Red). She also appeared at the Firebase (Bebe Cool, Chameleon, Bobi Wine) reunion concert as the only female hip-hop artist (happens a lot). Same thing at the first K.I.U beauty contest. She frequents gospel album launches and once in a while does good old free styling (which she’s unbelievably good at) at Kelly’s on jazz night. With the recent formation of the Uganda Hip-hop Foundation, she gets to be on stage every Wednesday night at Sabrina’s where she picks from her countless compositions to perform. Her most recent major appearance was the first live performance of her latest hot single Tafadhali. This was at the national Theatre for the World Music Day celebrations. You should have seen the mostly kadongo-kamu crowd singing along!
Much as I hate to leave you I have to leave room for that verse Saint promised. We’ll meet somewhere in cyber space…like the chat room? (Wink)
The smell of paraffin and black smoke
An empty bottle of coke
Yellow paper, yellow light
From a tadoba.
Scribbled verses destined to bring in amadollar.
A talent that nurses
An anger gruesome like curses
As best friends become strangers.
Struggling to keep the peace
Without faking it.
A crackling kayenje-
I wanna hit it, but within it
The rhymes of a favored child.
In her Father’s kingdom,
The best thing that’s come out of freedom.
Her kind ain’ blind
So calm in our minds you find
The silhouettes of savanna trees
The secrets that Hannah sees
The orange of a dusk sun
The gifts of God’s only begotten Son.