In Conversation with: Ruby V
My name is Ruby V. I am a radio presenter at Homeboyz Radio, one of the leading urban stations in Nairobi. I host a weekly show called Hip Hop Culture which airs on Saturday nights from 7- 9 p.m. EAT. I am also the host and founder of my own event, UnKut Africa, whose main aim is to shed a light on new talent and recreate the Hip Hop Culture scene in Nairobi.
How did you become a radio presenter?
I nagged my mentor, Mwalimu Rachel, who’s a popular journalist here. I sent her DMs everyday asking her to teach me the ropes because I had the dream of being on radio. One day she agreed to meet me after her show and when I showed up I had a notebook with questions. The rest, as they say, is history.
Why did you choose to do a Hip-Hop show?
I didn’t. One of the DJs at work spotted me at a Hip-Hop gig he was playing at when I was still green in the scene. He called me aside and told me to go tell the boss I would love to host the show with him. I was still an intern and very nervous, but the boss agreed to it That’s how I landed the spot.
Who has been your favourite guest on your show?
My interview with Kwesta was definitely a highlight. He’s one of the most easy going and open guests I’ve had on the show.
How did Unkut Africa come about and how has it progressed since?
The show started in December 2016 as UnKut the Cypher. I felt that we had made some strides to progress Kenyan Hip Hop and that needed to be celebrated at an event. At the beginning of the year we rebranded to UnKut Africa and have held 2 shows (I like to call them parties) so far. We’re using the hashtag #UnKut18 on social media as the umbrella tag for the shows this year, seeing as they’re supposed to happen in different locations. We also recently launched a mental health campaign, #UnKutMentalHealthKE (IG page @unkutmentalhealthke), in a bid to openly have “uncomfortable” conversations about mental health and stop the stigma around mental illness.
How is the progress of the hip hop culture in Kenya?
Hip Hop Culture is heavy in Nairobi. It’s hard to miss a wall with graffiti and even the matatu (public transport) culture is very supportive of Hip-Hop as you can spot vehicles with drawings of international and some local Hip Hop artists while here. Kenyan Hip-Hop music is slowly catching on as artists up their game with every release. This year we’ve also got projects from various artists which is a good thing.
Have you faced any stigma as a female presenter in a male dominated hip hop culture?
During the first year of my hosting Hip Hop Culture, a lot of male listeners disagreed with my opinions simply because they thought women knew nothing about Hip-Hop. I have since proved them wrong, I believe.
8. How does Kenyan hip hop compare to the rest of Africa?
Back in the early 2000s there existed WAPi (Words and Pictures) a Hip-Hop event supported by British Council. WAPi gave birth to many artists and was a home to Kenyan Hip-Hop fans. It was the core of Kenyan Hip Hop. However, after its discontinuation, many fans were left with nowhere to channel their energy and the culture kind of simmered down which made Kenyan Hip-Hop lag as countries like Tanzania and South Africa took over. As of 2016, the culture was reintroduced to the fans and stakeholders have taken it upon themselves to make it the leading genre of Kenyan music.
Who would like to have as a guest?
Hmmmm... If I could pick anyone, it would be J. Cole. I find his story compelling and I love his music.
What have been the highs and lows of your career so far?
What have been the highs and lows of your career so far?
Highs- every time someone says they have learnt of a new artist from the show. Lows- when trolls come at me online with no justifiable reason.
How do you prepare yourself for your shows?
I collect content throughout the week. By Thursday I usually know what I’ll talk about on the show. On Saturdays, I go to the studio an hour before the show to go over notes and check out any new information or music I could highlight on the show and just to get myself into “work mode”.
Who are your favourite artists?
J. Cole, Euroz, Wale, A Reece, Nasty C, Shukid, Steph Kapela, Kevin Grands Hozef, TNT and I recently discovered a guy called Nene K whose raps I dig!
Who are the upcoming hip hop artists from Kenya that people should look out for?
Steph Kapela, Barak Jacuzzi, Shukid, TNT, Monski, Mandy, ADF, they’re too many to mention all at once.
Who are the rocks in your life?
If you could give something up for a year what would it be and why?
Meat. I love all types of meat and word is, our bodies would function perfectly on vegetables. I just can’t bear the thought of having no meat in my life, so it would be interesting to watch my body and system adjust to this huge change.
What is the soundtrack to your life?
J. Cole’s Forest Hills Drive.
What is your wish for the future of Kenyan Hip-Hop?
I wish Kenyan Hip-Hop had more women in it and there were more journalists dedicated to finding and pushing new music. There’s so much talent that gets slept on because there aren’t enough people to propel it.
What words of advice do you have for upcoming artists?
Be in no rush for media attention. Make great records and grind it out. Talent doesn’t even account for half of what it takes to make it.
What are you most proud of about being Kenyan?
The passion that the youth have to, make a better life for themselves and the generations to come. I think it’s beautiful that no matter what prevailing challenges exist today, the youth are undeterred from their dreams of a better tomorrow.
How would you like to be remembered?
The woman who shook up and revamped Kenyan Hip-Hop. I want to be part of the much-needed change in the Kenyan entertainment industry.
You can check out some of my African Hip Hop blogs here: imaruby.wordpress.com.
Also follow UnKut Africa across our social media platforms:
UnKut Mental Health Instagram: instagram.com/unkutmentalhealthke