Femi One’s eventful journey to becoming Africa’s best female rapper
In 2020, just when the world was on lockdown thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, rapper Femi One managed to keep her fans entertained in the comfort of their homes after she released the song Utawezana. The song became an internet sensation thanks to a dance challenge started by Tik Tok star Azziad Nasenya.
Since then she has been releasing more music, keeping her name at the top of the charts. Her hard work and consistency seem to be paying off after she was voted the 2022 Best Female rapper of the year at the Afrimma awards.
“This adds up to the many highlights of my career because I think this makes me the first female rapper in Kenya and East Africa to win in the category,” Femi One said.
Femi battled it out with rapper Fena Gitu (Kenya), Ms Banks (Nigeria), Nata (Sierra Leone), Feli Nuna (Ghana), Candy Bleakz (Nigeria) and Rosa Ree (Tanzania).
Other winners from East Africa include Tanzanian singers Rayvanny and Zuchu, who won Best Male and Female East Africa respectively.
“I have been very consistent in making sure I produce music and I believe this has helped me get the recognition that I am now getting beyond Kenya and across the continent,” she said.
Femi One started her career 10 years ago after featuring in the Ligi Soo remix song by King Kaka. She was later signed by Kaka Empire, a record label owned by Kennedy Ombima aka King Kaka.
“This is the best time to be a Kenyan artiste, we are seeing a lot of new blood in the industry who are doing an amazing job. Kenyan artistes are doing the work but we are not getting enough media publicity. I also believe that some people who have influence are trying to push for a negative narrative about us. As artistes we are involved in major projects, we are getting endorsement deals and we are also doing music collaborations,” Femi One said.
Some of the success stories she says are lost in between clout chasing artistes who dominate the headlines.
In 2021, she was named the brand ambassador of an energy drink, making her the first African female artist to be associated with the brand.
She has spent her career engaged in a battle against being boxed in and has on several occasions said that women find more challenges in the music industry than men.
“It’s harder to become known purely for talent than for looks,” she once said.
The Kaka Empire record label signee has contended with these double standards and expectations to emerge hip-hop champion whose rapping skills have ensured her continued relevance in the genre.
“All the years I have been an artiste I learned that consistency is key you cannot afford to be one-hit-wonder. A good management team is also important for support and people who go out of their way to make sure your career is on an upward trajectory. Patience is also very important because sometimes things might not work out as planned,” she said.
“I remember when I released my first hit song Tippy Toe, it did so well that I started feeling anxious about my next song, will it do as great and even surpass its numbers, or would be one hit wonder who is only remembered by one song from an entire album. I would postpone the next release and if you were keen there was a time I went silent there was no music, but I am glad I was able to get over this because then came Utawezana and many others after.”