It’s hard making it as a rapper. It gets harder when you are a woman and you have to make it in an industry largely dominated by men. You have to work almost twice as hard to make it big. Rosa Ree has come a long way in the industry and has climbed her way to the top.
Rosa Ree’s music borders on hardcore hip hop with a touch of some evolving dancehall beats. In this interview, I talk to her about her evolving music which she described as growth.
With more than 3 years in the music industry, what’s the journey been like for you?
My journey has been and sometimes still gets rough but it’s very fulfilling and worth it. I’ve learnt a lot, most importantly taking my challenges as lessons and making them ladders to get to the top instead of seeing them as obstacles.
What’s been the biggest moment of your career?
Every moment of my career for me is a big moment. Coz every moment I get is a chance for growth and a doorway to a new beginning.
You joined the music industry and quickly moved to rap but you got a lot of backlash from people. Do you now feel appreciated in the industry?
I do now, thanks to the hard work, sweat and tears I put in. In the beginning, most people didn’t believe I could do this (Hip Hop) game. People laughed at me and ridiculed me for being a woman trying to do a “man’s game” as it’s believed to be. But now the same people and more, praise me for doing a good job and I’m glad I could show that a woman can actually do Hip Hop!
Does hardcore hip hop have a space in East Africa?
Anything has space anywhere if someone pushes society to give it a chance! There are artists who are doing a great job in the Kenyan Hip Hop scene. Big up to them.
You have worked with literally everyone in the music industry from South Africa’s Emtee to Kenya’s Timmy Tdat and other acts in Africa. What’s been the biggest take home from all these acts?
The biggest take home is always the lessons I learn from the artists I work with. When we work it’s not always just work even life lessons are involved through the connections we make and it’s truly mind-blowing.
Your new songs ‘Dip n Wine it‘ and ‘Chapa Kipopo’ are a bit different from the music you were creating a bit with some fusion of some dancehall kind of vibe; are you changing your sound?
I’m not “changing” I’m growing! I’m adding on to the vibe I’ve already mastered and shown people. I discover and unlock new levels of Rosa Ree every day and I truly shock myself. I love for people to see that Rosa Ree’s talent has no limits and that I can beat people’s expectations!
‘One time‘ was one of the songs that showed you were angry about the people who said you couldn’t rap don’t you think?
I don’t think, I know! I found it so sad and frustrating that people have such a backward mindset about women. So much so that they could look down on a woman who could actually do it and say she can’t do it just because she is a woman! ‘One time’ was a very emotional song for me because I was going through a lot but I’m thankful that I was able to fight the negativity and I turned it into positive energy that pushed me to get to where I am today.
Are female hip hop artists getting the acclaim they should get in Africa today?
Sadly the thought that “Hip Hop” is a man’s game hasn’t been eradicated from everyone’s mind yet. But it starts with us. And we are working towards it (personally I am). Our hard work will eventually change the game and society’s backward mentality.
Is your art as a female musician your form of feminism?
Well, I sometimes use my art to express feminism but not solely! As I said, my talent and art are limitless but also, I’m a feminist to the core!
What keeps you excited about Kenyans and the Kenyan music industry?
Being a Tanzanian and living across the border, I’m still able to see the magnitude of the talents Kenyan artists have. I really appreciate their music and big up to them for keeping the Kenyan Music Industry boat afloat and doing a great job at it.
What do you to unwind?
Music. Music is my escape from the world, from any kind of negativity or tension. Music touches my soul.