Rigga was born Charles Righa to a single mom. He describes their relationship as very close. Due to the nature of his mom’s work, he had the privilege of living in and visiting many places in the world. This experience exposed him to diverse cultural nuances which fired up his appreciation for Kenya’s unique cultural identity. He describes himself as a “melting pot of ideas and influences.”
Rigga’s love for music began early in his childhood. He and his mom would watch musicals such ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Sound of Music’, ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘The Lion King’ just to mention a few. He also listened to his mom’s gospel music tapes collection that included; Andrae Crouch, Don Moen, Ron Kenoly, Alvin Slaughter.
In his pre-teens he took an interest in Hip Hop and Pop music. He would mimic and sing along picking a few things, here and there. In high school, he started writing rap lyrics to relieve the stresses of boarding school. He would then perform to his schoolmates who encouraged him to pursue this passion.
After completing high school, he started to perform in various functions whilst seeking out recording opportunities. At age 17, he eventually got signed to Kijiji Records, a recording label by Kanjii Mbugua and from then on his musical career spurred off.
In his own words, Rigga does not have a defined description of his musical sound or technique;
“It’s funny that I find it difficult describing the music that I do. I’m very much an eclectic. I do much more than just rap. I am a rapper, a singer, a songwriter (both for myself and other artistes, TV shows and advertisements) and also growing as a music producer. So if I were to struggle and coin a term for my style music, it would be “Afro-Hip-Pop.”
He describes his musical influences as;
“My influences are always in flux because I’m always looking for something new to inspire me. Internationally they currently include (but aren’t limited to): Lecrae, Andy Mineo, Israel Houghton, Mi Casa, Nico & Vinz, Alicia Keys, Common, Pharell Williams, Wyclef Jean, Jidenna, Major Lazer & Ed Sheeran. My Kenyan influences include: Kanjii Mbugua, Eric Wainaina, Aaron Rimbui, Chris Adwar, Atemi Oyungu and June Gachui (all people that I have had the privilege of working with and learning from).
“I’ve been doing this a while now and for a long time my passion for music wasn’t making me much money. I’m so blessed to be married to someone who believes in my dreams enough to do the journey with me (however rough it got). There were days we didn’t have money to pay our bills (rent, utility bills etc…) and yet she still encouraged me to keep pursuing my music career. Thankfully, we’re past that rough stage. I don’t make enough money to drive a Bugatti but I’m glad that my family and I have enough to get by.
I have also had a few challenges when it comes to royalty collection (especially when MCSK was charged with that mandate) and distributing my music for sale. It’s difficult when you’re the artiste is the one in charge of the entire supply chain from production to distribution.”
Is there a future in the Kenyan Music Industry?
“Most definitely… The Kenyan Music industry is a sleeping giant… a multi-billion shilling industry that just needs the right structures to ensure that artistes are incentivized enough keep creating world class material. We are now just starting to enjoy the fruits of the hard work of the musicians who came before us. And now I’m primarily living off my music. That gives me great hope for what the future holds for this industry.”
If you had to change one thing in the Kenyan music industry what would that be?
“It would be to change the profit share percentages between music creators and PRSPs (Premium Rate Service Providers) that distribute the music on mobile and digital platforms. Right now the percentages are (in my view) unfairly advantageous to the PRSPs leaving musicians with the much shorter end of the stick. I think legislation that regulates those percentages would help protect artistes from being taken advantage of.”
If you had a chance for an international work collaboration, who would it be and why?
“Lecrae: I love how he’s consistently grown his brand and record label to an international brand. I’d be honored to work with him and learn from his journey.”
Do you have a favorite song within your recordings and why is that?
“Nope! I can’t choose… that’s like making me pick a favorite between my “children”. All my babies are special!”
If you were not doing music what you would be doing?
“If I weren’t actively in music I would probably be a talent scout for a variety of performing arts: music, theatre, film and TV etc… I do this quite a bit, spotting people with talent and ushering them to the next phases in their careers.
If not that, I’d be a food critic! I love eating out… whether fast food or fine dining! Sign me up for some good food!”
Where do you see Righa in the next 10 years?
“Still doing music but behind the scenes: mentoring the next generation of artistes, producing, composing and arranging music for them and also influencing policy for our music industry.”
Word of advice to aspiring artists
“Hard work and consistency always trumps talent. Keep working!”
Where can people buy your music/concert tickets?
You can buy/stream music online on a variety of platforms including:
- iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/rigga/id653987650
- Deezer: http://www.deezer.com/us/artist/4772488
- Waabeh: http://waabeh.com/rigga
I have a live show coming up soon (either September or October 2017) so please follow my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/itsRigga for more information on Venues & Ticketing!