Kennedy Ombima, better known as King Kaka, is not your average artist.
He began his career using the stage name Rabbit - a nickname used by his friends from his days as a rabbit seller, but later rebranded to his new moniker King Kaka.
He describes himself as an artiste, entrepreneur and philanthropist. Listening to him describe the state of the local music industry, makes one aware of how seamlessly he combines artistry with entrepreneurship. With that in mind, we first face the music.
Rabbit's 2008 debut album featured the breakout singles - "Jam na Kam" featuring Oddinary and "Dodoma" featuring Harry Kimani - tracks that put him on the map and marked him out as an artiste to watch.
As King Kaka, he has come under a fair bit of criticism for becoming mainstream. From his new album, his single "Dundaing" featuring Kristoff and Magix Enga is perhaps an apt example that critics will point to.
However, this is not a new phenomenon in hip-hop culture. Many other artistes have been accused of the same, some perhaps more than others and with varying degrees of accuracy. Maybe it's a rite of passage - you haven't really made it, until they start yelling sell-out. That's a debate and I'll leave it here for now.
King Kaka's response to his own criticism is that Rabbit - his deeper, more poetic self - never left. He declares that Rabbit evolved into King Kaka, and this growth is what he terms the 'Eastlando' mentality--the ability to grasp your current hardships and resolve to forge towards making things better.
His new album "Eastlando Royalty" is a proclamation of this rise from a humble background to something greater. The album, slated for release on November 30, 2018, features 18 physical tracks and 22 digital ones. King Kaka promises a different experience for this new venture.
In the album, he features an ensemble of great local talent such as Nameless, Steph Kapela and Kristoff, as well as US-based acts such as Talib Kweli and comedian Tracy Morgan. Production for the album was done by beat makers Musyoka, Magix Enga, and Rico Beats, among others.
The album has something for both King Kaka and Rabbit fans. The album launch will reveal how well this duality will play out. King Kaka points out that balance is the key and this dovetails nicely into the entrepreneurship aspect of his brand.
King Kaka opines that, the key to success is a careful balance between commercialism and creativity. He purposefully sets out to do music that straddles either side of this divide. Rabbit grew into King Kaka to access opportunities he would not have been able to if he remained Rabbit.
As a philanthropist, King Kaka assists underprivileged girls in marginalised areas to stay in school through the King Kaka Sanitary Bank campaign. Many girls often skip classes during their menstrual period, and many campaigns have been conducted to give them sanitary towels so they can stay in school. To date King Kaka has assisted 10,300 girls stay in school for one year. He also mentors boys in rural areas.