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Exclusive: Veryl Mkali Wao – The next big hip-hop star in Kenya

Veryl Mkali Wao, a Tusker Nexters finalist from last year, is well on course to become Kenya’s next hip-hop star. With her hard-hitting flow, the Nakuru-based artiste, finished fourth in the Tusker-sponsored competition.

However, to get here, Veryl Mkali Wao has come a long way. In an exclusive interview with Nairobi News, she spoke about her musical journey, her successes and challenges so far, as well as her aspirations.

“I was bitten by the music bug back in class six. I would jam a lot to Ukoo Fulani as a young girl. After high school, I started off with rap battles and emceeing on the sides. Before transitioning to fully recoding music, I was doing Cyphers in Nairobi,” she said.

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The rapper describes her genre of music as hardcore hip-hop, a musical rendition where she drops lyrical bars in a freewheel without breaks.

Before her breakthrough in the Tusker Nexters, Veryl Mkali Wao concedes that it was an uphill task for her as an upcoming female artiste. She has particularly had her fair share of indecent proposals from male sex predators in the industry.

“There are many shows I haven’t done because someone wanted me to sleep with them so as to get the gigs. It is sad how many upcoming female artistes are often denied a chance for turning down such sexual advances,” she lamented.

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But the sexual favours stumbling block did not deter her rapper from chasing her dream. Last year, she was featured in the Tusker Nexters, which proved to be a groundbreaking moment in her music career.

She says the platform taught her the nitty gritty of being an artiste, such as branding, stage presence and presentation, separating the art from the artiste and how to conduct oneself during media interviews.

Veryl Mkali Wao started gaining a fan base after the Dala Wa Benga hit song that she collaborated alongside Mejja and Kisumu-based singer Kamwana. She is currently working on an Afro hip-hop EP, which is due out next month. The EP, which is a solo project, is a depiction of current lifestyle issues.

“It takes a lot of courage and a strong will to breakout as a female musician. You need to have a team which does not necessarily have to be management but would act as a support system. The team represent you in marketing and advertising your music, and also in presenting you since acting all alone would be a challenge, making music industry players take advantage of you,” she said.

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