Kariuki Thande better known as R.I.Z.E is a talented hip-hop artiste and songwriter hailing from Nairobi, Kenya. Having received his stage name from his closest friend, R.I.Z.E has gone on to make an impact through his music by delivering some amazing singles, EP, and now his latest single KANAIRO which he released in October. In this segment of Artist to Watch R.I.Z.E speaks to us about his passion for music, his future music projects, and his life as a businessman.
How did the stage name R.I.Z.E come about?
I created my stage name with help from one of my closest friends. It stands for “Reaching Impassable Zenith Elevation” which represents my aim that’s always set on going higher and elevating in all my endeavours.
When did you start making music? Please walk us through your musical journey so far.
I started writing and recording freestyle raps on my family’s landline phone while I was just 6 years old. I used to record a new voicemail message every other day with my silly raps. I then started recording seriously around the age of 13 and from then on it was constant growth. At the age of 15 is when I finally found a reliable studio to record at and grow from.
How would you describe your sound in the musical world?
Some core values that influence my sound are relatability, lyricism, substance, and ‘bounce’. I refer to the undeniable feeling my tracks give the listener as ‘bounce’ and my motto is “More bars, more bass, more bounce.”
I can rap on beats from almost every sub-genre of hip hop but I have a soft spot for rapping on Afrobeats. I’ve been trilingual all my life and Afrobeats enables me to flow in my mother tongue and Swahili better than when I rap on classic rap/trap beats.
Which artist has been influential to your sound?
Some of my top influences include Big K.R.I.T, J.Cole, Burna Boy, and Nyashinski.
Describe your creative process?
My creative process revolves around transcribing real-life experiences. Whether I’m happy, sad, or stressed, I always have a burning urge to express my life experiences. It is in fact a therapeutic outlet for me.
When it comes to the actual songwriting, I usually come up with the flow first. I become one with the beat by just humming or scatting the flow which fits best, after which I then substitute the syllables with the appropriate lyrical content.
You’ve been in the music industry for a while now. How’s your experience been in navigating through the music industry of Kenya?
Being a part of the music industry in Kenya is bittersweet. It is like being part of a great renaissance but at the same time acknowledging the sad realization that our industry is very sabotaged from within and can do so much better.
I have met very many talented and ambitious individuals. Indeed we have one of the most talented pools of creatives in Africa. However, we are also home to some of the greediest and myopic gatekeepers.
Everybody wants to be a star in Kenya, including radio hosts, talent managers, producers, etc. People don’t realize there are many more important roles to play in the industry besides being the star. This creates an unnecessary artificial scarcity of resources and leverage.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
I enjoy the spontaneity and flexibility of being a musician. I enjoy networking and new cool people that I meet often. I also enjoy the fact that I’m privileged to have a supportive family. It’s indeed hard navigating the industry when your own people don’t support you.
As an artist, you’ve released a lot of tracks, but let’s talk about your new single KANAIRO, What was your goal when creating this song?
KANAIRO was honestly just an ode to my hometown. When I first heard the beat I envisioned it being played on the radio and in matatus and I thought what better theme than that of patriotism and pride in our hometown?
Do you have any other music projects that you plan to release before the year ends?
Yes, I have a party anthem coming out at the end of the year. I chose the end of the year because that’s the peak of party season in Kenya, or as I like to call it “Kenyan summertime”.
Watch out for that one, it’s a heavy afro tune!
What’s next for you?
Next year I’m working on releasing more visuals for my music as that’s one aspect that I’ve lagged behind in. I’m also a businessman and I’m launching a new business at the beginning of 2023 so I’m going to be rocking both my artist and entrepreneur caps regularly.
Lastly, what’s one message you would give to your fans?
The only way to make it is to keep going. Never look back, and never forget why you started.
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