Rapper Nyashinski, real name Nyamari Ongegu, is one of the few Kenyan artistes with a successful comeback story. He was part of the award winning pop group, Kleptomaniacs, who had hit singles like "Haree", "Swing Swing" and the massive diss track that was "Tuendelee".
But after the group took a break in 2007, Nyashinski left the country only to come back hotter and more sought-after in 2016 with successful songs like Now You Know and Mungu Pekee that have arguably made him one of the best rappers and singers in the Kenyan entertainment music industry.
You took a break from music when you were at the height of your career, and you are enjoying even more success after coming back. Why do you think there's such a huge demand for your music?
Honestly, right now that question can be best answered by my fans. (If there's that huge demand), it's coming from them. When I make music, I express myself and I think many people connect with that. But, like I said, it's best answered by my fans.
Music is your business. How do you ensure that there is a balance between making money and passion/creativity?
I thank God that I have quite a bit of knowledge and experience of the music industry from way back. I've learnt from the Kenyan industry as well as the international scene while I was away. I talk to a lot of people on the different facets of the music business. I also have a team, and we all know where we are headed; we split roles and ensure our efforts complement each other.
Away from social media, who is Nyashinski as a person? Are there misconceptions about you? What do you like doing when you're not making music?
Social media can either show you the truth or give you an illusion - it's just depends on how you look at it. I believe I am a sociable person, and people close to me will tell you that. I just don't get out that much as I also have a lot going on right now; from working on my album and taking care of personal and family business to studying more about the music industry. I hang out with close friends too but my life is just not as public as people think.
What did you study in university and has your degree come in handy in any way?
I have a Bachelor's degree in environmental planning and management. Although I have not applied my degree directly, it has come in handy. It's not what you study that matters, but how you apply what you study; discipline, structure, team work, the world around you and how you position yourself in it, critical thinking, collaborating and aligning yourself with others, among other factors.
How do you define your worth as an artiste, first to your fans and secondly, to clients?
Wow! No one has really ever asked me that. Of course I think highly of myself, and that's what we should all do. It helps build confidence and character. I realise I am somewhat in a position of influence and I ensure I do not take that for granted or misuse the position. I pray that my fans and clients will always look at me as one who adds value, tangible and intangible, to their lives through my music and my actions.
What tips would you offer a young person in college or university trying to get into music?
Study the African music landscape. Ask yourself what successful African artistes are doing that is different from everyone else. Go to concerts or watch concerts online - try and figure out why some of these events have a bigger attendance than others. Be keen on the reaction of fans and what the high and low moments are. Most importantly, be yourself and write from the heart. Also, if you can't write, don't hesitate to look for someone to whom you can open up, and who can deliver the same in the form of a song.
Was music always your dream and were your parents okay with it?
I thought about pursuing several things; music was just one of them. I think I was able to convince my family to support me in my pursuit of music because I didn't abandon my studies. I think the biggest fear among parents is their children quitting school. They only want the best for us and they work hard to get us to school.
There are parents who dictate what their children should study. What would be your advice to young people who want to follow career paths that are different from what is perceived as the norm?
Talk to your parents, have an open and honest conversation with them. Express your wishes, show them who m you would like to emulate; try to make them understand what you are trying to achieve. You might be shocked that they would be willing to support you, advise you and guide you. We are blessed to be in the era of the Internet. Do your research; if you really believe in what you want to do. Hey, why don't you make a presentation out of it?