He has evolved from a young child in the streets of Dar es Salaam, to a lyrical giant who sees nothing else than Work Ethic and Dedication as being the keys to success. After years of commitment and dedication to his craft, Wakazi is poised to become Tanzania’s leading Ambassador in Africa and in the Music World. His signature Blend of English and Swahili rhymes caused him to be dubbed the “Bilingual Beast”, but his ability to tell a story and clever use of wordplay and metaphors, seem to be his real Strength. His ability to create context for the listeners is unparalleled, and he credits that to his personal life experiences as well as his imaginative part of the brain, which is sometimes more vivid than life itself. Wakazi has set the platform with which his dreams could be fulfilled. The sky is the limit for this TZee Emcee.
Seif Kabelele: How are you?
Wakazi: I’m very good sir. I feel blessed, so it’s a good thing, good feel. God is wonderful
Seif Kabelele: How did the video for ‘SUMU YA PANYA ‘ come about? It has a very strong aesthetic.
Wakazi: Yeah I am very pleased with the way the video turned out. We wanted to capture Dar City in a way it has never been captured before with the day to day street hustle as well as the beauty of the city that also exhibits it’s growth. Hefemi, the director, did a wonderful job. We shot it in Mnazi Mmoja, Kariakoo Shimoni and at Samora Avenue in downtown. We did early morning shoots and evening shoots. And it was nice for us to be able to include the actual Sumu ya Panya vendors in the video as well.
Seif Kabelele: How much input do you have into the video?
Wakazi: Normally everytime I work with hefemi, we treat the project as a collaborative creative work. I tell him what I have in mind, he creates his ideas from listening to the song, and the last process is to find a way to meet so the ideas can jell together. No matter how much of input I have on the video, he still dictates the final version since he has more knowledge on film, cinematography and effects so he knows what works best. But yeah I have a lot of influence in the creative process.
Seif Kabelele: So when you’re recording an album, do you approach it as if it could be your last? Every record should provide a fitting legacy…
Wakazi: Infact it is the other way around. I approach each project as if it’s my first. That way, I can maintain the edge and urge of wanting to prove something to the masses. They say the first album of an artist is always the best, so I want to embody that throughout my career so that everytime I come with new material it can still feel like it’s the first time which is pure, raw, fresh and groundbreaking.
Seif Kabelele: Do you feel exposed as an artist putting your emotions out there for people to dissect and experience?
Wakazi: To a certain degree yes you would feel exposed, but mind you, you really don’t have to put all your emotions and feelings but rather control the level of personal life you give out. But on the other hand, as an artist you are mirroring the society so the emotions and feelings don’t have to be personal but rather of someone you happen to know. It is necessary to express these Situations because through music people get healed, get redemption, find therapy and find closure. So as long as it is for the better of the community it’s all good.
Seif Kabelele: Anyone you’d really like to collaborate with?
Wakazi: I have a list of artist both locally and internationally that I would love to work with. It’s a very long list and hopefully someday I will accomplish it. There are some whom I am already in the process of working with but I can’t reveal now. And to be honest I’m open to work with anybody who has the same values as me as far as the music is concerned and they value work ethic, they are dedicated and things of that nature. A dream collabo would be with people like Nas, Eminem, Wu Tang, Hashim Dogo, Chidinma, M.I, Kidum, Heather Headley, R Kelly, Enika, Bamboo, Antoneosoul, the list goes on….
Seif Kabelele: You’re quite outspoken on certain subjects alongside other artists like Fid Q, Professor Jay etc. and willing to stand up and say what you believe in? Is it an artistic responsibility?
Wakazi: Yes it is an artistic responsibility but also upbringing, social belief and personal preference all mixed together. We are the voices of the voiceless, we are the hope of the hopeless. We are the leaders although we are not elected nor appointed, which means we are the true leaders cause we assumed responsibilities unforced. The minute we lie to our people or we get scared to stand up for our people, it’s the minute we as a community will start to die slowly. And knowing the power that we possess, it’s mandatory to be socially responsible.
Seif Kabelele: Do you ever worry that the video becomes synonymous with the song? A track like ‘TOUCH’ I can’t hear that without seeing the video in my head.
Wakazi: As an artist one of our job if not the only job, is to create context with which the listeners can think and later create images and pictures that mirror the music. When we shoot visuals for the songs, we actually help you as a listener to get the picture we intended you to get. So it is not a worry but rather an accomplishment. And for the songs we don’t shoot videos for, we are leaving your imagination to do the magic.
Seif Kabelele: When you were growing up, was music an important part of your life?
Wakazi: Music has been very important element in my life. Infact it has been so important to a point of me actually wanting to do nothing else but music, hence becoming an artist. Every childhood memory I can think off or remember is somehow some way related to music. Music marks time, and time is one of the basis of our whole existence. So you can imagine
Seif Kabelele: When you record do you keep it in mind how it will play out live?
Wakazi: It varies from record to record. There are certain songs that are meant to be played loud and some with low volume. Some songs are meant to be performed and some are to just be listened to so one can meditate through them. So yes I’m always aware of what I’m giving out and to whom I’m giving it to.
Seif Kabelele: Do you prefer playing large arena shows to small intimate ones?
Wakazi: That is a tricky situation. I can say it depends on what type on musical agenda I am pushing at that particular time. Intimate shows gives fans an opportunity to really dissect the music and gets to hear you well, while on the other hand if you can move the crowds, which is actually what an emcee is supposed to do, then you the man. There is no better feeling than hearing 60,000 plus people screaming you words!! That’s the ultimate goal which shows that you are certified.
Seif Kabelele: Would you ever consider going into politics?
Well in my opinion we are already into politics so to speak. The music industry is full of politics that we are dealing with on a day to day basis. So to transition to a political career won’t be much of a change as it will be just “same script different cast”. As artists we do air out feeling and opinion on several matters and these issues so as politicians are addressed directly to the people so we as artist can influence and bring about change without being formal official leaders. But I don’t know what the future holds and what is written for me in the future but I can’t say I am aspiring to become a politician