More than any other contemporary art form, the hip hop music culture–that emerged in the ghettos of the USA, continues to inform and define the youth culture on the African continent. But while young people use it to express themselves in a way that defies stereotypes, this art is devoid of substantial social impact. Kapuka and genge, Kenya’s answer to hip hop culture, does not seem to favour female artists who, critics observe, are better off performing gospel music. But Jennifer Lusichi alias Qty appears to be challenging this observation with her singles, Zunguka, Get Closer and Simama, In her view female artists are harshly judged by the audience on the basis of their personality and character when they need the support of this very people to nurture their talent. She speaks about her creative work to ArtMatters.Info staff writer BETHSHEBA ACHITSA.
What styles do you employ in your singing?
I am an all round artist. I do kapuka, bongo and reggae and sometimes I go afro-fusion. I can go for miles and sing any tune. As long as it’s good music.
Music critics are of the opinion that the new breed of female artists are not cut out for the secular music and are better off performing gospel music; do you agree with them? Do you think they are underestimating female artists?
I don’t agree with critics. Secular music is and will still rock. I like gospel music too but just observe even gospel artists are trying to fuse some secular styles in gospel music today so at times am confused of what is secular and gospel. Being female artist is hard because people judge your personality and character first and I think female artists should be supported because they have a lot more to offer and should be appreciated instead of being underestimated.
What are you set out to achieve through your music?
I want to achieve a lot; I want to use music to help other people. I have a project called Music for Change through which I try to campaign against HIV/Aids. My sister’s dying of this disease made me think of how I can help people but not actually benefit myself. I also want to be the best performer in Africa and through music I would really like to inspire young girls to be the best they can be and never let anyone put them down.
Have you won any awards so far?
Not yet…but there are many to came.
What inspired you into writing/performing your first single Simama?
I had a friend who got pregnant at an early age and she thought life has no any value to her that’s why I sang Simama to inspire girls to be strong no matter what they go through. Girl power!
You were working within music groups, why did you decide to go solo? Do you still perform in groups?
I was in a girls group but they gave up leaving me alone. So now I perform alone and do music alone.
What audience do you target through your music?
I target the youth because my project about HIV/ Aids concerns a certain age group that is affected easily and they can change through music because the youth like music.
You look forward to starting an organisation that raises awareness about HIV/AIDS, why HIV/AIDS in particular?
My sister was a victim from that time she died; I said to myself that things must change. I must do something to create awareness about HIV/Aids people don’t know much about HIV and we should be able to educate others. I also realized many people need drugs, counseling and nutrition but no one helps this people so I need to step up and do all I can.
Tell us about the song In Your Hands?
It’s a song I did in memory of my sister and also i try give hope to people around the world.
Do you write/producer/ market your own music?
I write my own music and market also.
What have been challenges so far as a musician?
Capital and also because am female many people might put you down just to see u give up or try to have relationships but I stay strong.
Do you earn a living entirely through singing?
When I started I wasn’t but now I do earn from music.
Who inspires in the world of music?
My father inspired me since I was young but also life inspires me i see what goes on and sing about it.
Tell us about yourself and the family you were born into?
I was born in Nakuru in a family of four which is musically talented. I attended to Moi primary school then Moi secondary school I then switched to a boarding school Moi girls high school I have a diploma in pharmacy and insurance but I only do music and earn from music.
Your stage name QTY, how did it come about?
My dad used to tell me you have cute eyes, I love your cute smile, what a cute face you have, so just call me QTY I told my dad. This name has a meaning to me and defines me.
Why is it that hip hop artists seem to be obsessed with using stage names instead of their really names?
Names define people and they tell us more about a person. You can judge a person by a name. Stage names are important to remind you where you are from.
What should your fans expect of you?
They should expect Change in music, using music to do something positive to eradicate poverty, orphans and widowers. We need to campaign against HIV/Aids and bring forth music with a positive change.