KizAza Yeyo is an underground rapper and songwriter based in Kampala, Uganda.
Having discovered Hip-Hop music back in 2003 from a High school friend in his hometown of Kinshasa in the DRC, he helplessly fell in love with the Hip-Hop culture especially the Rap Music. Through the years he started nurturing the craft in him by listening to more and more rap music daily and collecting cassettes. But despite the fact that the conservative Christian family he grew up in was not a perfect environment to work on his dreams with ease, the fact that Hip-Hop culture in Congo was just really beginning to emerge in a country more in love with its native Ndombolo music, was another real obstacle.
“In 2004 I started to feel the real urge to learn English. While watching TV I had the feeling as though rappers who rapped in English were more well-off and popular than their French counterparts. But at school we could only start to have English lessons in 3rd form. And soon I knew that those almost three hours a week were not enough to meet my expectations; I wanted to later be able to write my own songs in English and I had no time to waste; I wanted it real quick. So I started to learn it by teaching myself from outside sources.”He recalls.
There were just a couple of English centers in town and a quite expensive venture for an average young freelancer like him. With his hard desire to switch from rapping in French to English, KizAza successfully learned English vocabulary, grammar and expressions through dictionaries, visual Medias and extra consultations with his then English teacher. Just two years later, before he went to studio for the first time in 2006 he was already writing his own songs in English.
His first single “Ghetto Blues ” released in 2006 proved promising in the embryonic ghetto Hip-Hop scene of Kinshasa and set the pace for his journey into Hip-Hop music that is still going on till date.
While still in Congo KizAza released more tracks including ‘Money In The Bank’ and “Et Ben Ouais (ft Koosnys)” in 2007 and “Only One Mc” in 2008 as his popularity continued to grow on the local Hip-Hop scene and on stages in town despite the use of English as the language to convey the message. But this later proved to be of an advantage as well; while it was difficult to most people to really get the meaning, it was amazing to see a local talent rapping in English ‘like an American’ and kept wondering how that could happen.
In the meantime, he continued taking decisive steps towards building his name and career. He in 2007 managed to create a Hip-Hop crew in his neighborhood called ‘Thug Family’, which mostly included three other fellow rappers including TheKingChris, the man who inspired him into becoming a rapper four years ago. While this project was taking ground, he also managed create another Hip-hop crew at his school that he called DNIC , featuring two more rappers, a singer and an amateur DJ.
Later on in early 2010, after decades of conflicts, both the political and social situations in the worn torn Congo continued to worsen. Those considered threats to the rule were being eliminated and many innocent families affected… The conflicts caused thousands to leave for safety in bordering countries like Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya as women were being raped and young males forced into armed militias.
“I came to Uganda in May 2010; it was a hard long and uncertain voyage till here. I didn’t know what was expecting me in a foreign land with a somehow a different people. But I wasn’t that pessimistic about it; I knew I was still in Africa and I had no limits: although I was forcibly displaced, I did move along with my dream and I still had the same determination to achieve it.”
Uganda was a new start for KizAza who had to live in the street of Kibuli, Katwe and later settled in Zanna neighborhoods while identifying with fellow rappers and producers to quickly integrate the music community. Very soon he started performing at night shows at Pubs at Kabalagala including CaféCheri for twenty thousand Shillings a night.
To him one of the biggest advantages was that finally he was in a land of people who speak and understand English; a place he always dreamed to be. And that place turned out to be in the pearl of Africa. With these meager earnings he managed to save for his mixtape project ‘PositiveAddition which he had already started to nurture. However, volunteering as an EFL/ESL instructor for JRS Uganda, a nonprofit humanitarian organization to teach refugees and asylum seekers provided him with a great opportunity to reach out to more youth affected by the same kind of situation, carrying a strong message to impact his generation and thus a crucial starting point; a fan base.
“So far if you listen to my music you will find a message that is being delivered. It’s actually a kind of reflection of my reality and what I have been through. As a forcibly displaced person with a sincere message, I don’t think it will take much effort for most people in the world to relate to my musi and with the trends nowadays if you look at the news on tv… more especially right now the people of Uganda, who to a certain level have shared the very same war experience as well and they know what I’m talking about.”
In 2014 he started working on his mixtape ‘Positive Addition’ with great passion picking offers from renowned Kampala city producers including Bobi Wine’s HerbzSkiLLz of SoundMakers Studios and JohnnyBeatz.
Within PositiveAddition the mixtape, KizAza has built more songs with an overall positive message which he thinks might promote positive vibes in the world and change the mind of the worldwide African youth especially.
Right now his hype can be felt on Kampala’s underground Hip-Hop scene as most of the central populous neighborhoods including Katwe, Nsambya, Makindye through Zzana pledge their allegiance to KizAzaMusic.
Even before the media and outside of it, he was and is still holding big successful Hip-Hop events in the ghettos and upcountry with his independent self-owned music label KizAzaMusic; promoting his music and that of dozen of new talents he has inspired throughout his Hip-Hop journey including the Pesa Ngai’s duo BrotherzMusik.
His underground self-financed Hip-Hop concerts in Kampala averagely gather hundreds of people; such a rare underground success in Kampala. Footages of this show and more others can be streamed online on his Youtube Channel ‘KizAzaMusic’.
The mixtape includes titles like ‘Africa Believe, We Cry Together, Food On The Table, Everybody Say, and lately ‘The Holy Door’.
In this project he is intending to work with a wide variety of other musicians in the mainstream East African music industry, which will boast a compilation of fifteen songs by its completion and boost his name. But in the meantime he keeps writing songs and releasing more tracks hoping for a breakthrough soon.