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Contemporary hip-hop artiste Ian Muhanji aka Muhanjii

Contemporary hip-hop artiste Ian Muhanji aka Muhanjii talks for the first time about his fallout with Agency5ve and the T412 disintegration, writesGrace Wachira

Some time last year, urban contemporary hip-hop artiste Ian Muhanji aka Muhanjii, who was signed by Agency5ve, the brand behind the urban gospel Verse5ve events, called it quits at the label.

The breakout star of the gospel outfit T412 has never spoken about the reasons behind his fallout with the agency, until now.

“In late September, I made a conscious decision to ask a few questions in regards to accountability that did not go so well. I felt the element of accountability was lacking and that’s why I quit. So, you could say I am on my own now,” the Nani singer told Spice in an interview.

The journey

Professionally, Muhanjii studied Online Media and Journalism, but never really practised it because he went into music fulltime and has been at it for a while now.

He says: “I always had an intense passion for performing arts, however, I didn’t think of it as a career but just a hobby, considering my family has never been so musical. I chose music because I personally love it and it’s a tool for driving conversations and changing culture.”

He settled on hip-hop as a genre because he grew up mostly listening to hip-hop and reggae and that’s where most of his influences were pulled from.

“I guess hip-hop was stronger and my love for rhyme, poetry, wordplay and metaphors nudged me in that direction. Hip-hop also feels freer and expressive and that was all I wanted to do with my music,” says the 25-year-old rapper.

Muhanjii has since stuck to rap as one of his strong points and is always trying to improve it by the day. He intimates that he takes time to write all his music so as to sound as authentic as possible. He also admits it has been quite challenging penetrating the Kenyan music industry with his preferred genre.

“People’s approach to each genre is different and so people find it hard to understand how hip-hop could be Christian. I am of the opinion they will learn with time as long as I am here,” he says.

Odd one out

He recently launched his mixtape, Odd One Out, which he terms as “one of my strongest projects to date.” The album features releases such as Chenda Chenda and Issues that have garnered some commendable reception.

He says: “I came up with the album from some deep vulnerable space. It’s really to shine the spotlight on being a Christian and preaching God’s love.”

Muhanjii says that it would be hard to pin point one specific artiste as an inspiration, but he says he has learnt consistency from King Kaka, remaining true to oneself from Octopizzo and to focus on one’s mission and vision from American Christian hip-hop recording artiste, songwriter, record producer and actor, Lecrae.

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