Soonarmy KE is a Kenyan hip hop group that is based in Banana just outside Nairobi. The group is made up of Phejozz, Hoodboi and LeckyMarzz. Phejozz and Hoodboi met at a hip hop cipher event organized at the British Council. They both were representing ‘Bano’, sheng for Banana and they hit it off. Lecky-Marzz later joined the group when he was introduced to Hoodboi via his cousin Mendy, who is a singer.
Phejozz is a veteran in the Kenyan underground hip hop scene. He has been spitting bars at various events for the last 12 years. He started rapping in Form 2 while in high school. They would organize rap ciphers in one of the classrooms and use toothbrushes as microphones and the desks as drum sets. Phejozz formed a group “Village Heads” with Nemesis who later passed on.
Initially, when he started rapping, he would use other artists’ lines. His main influences were Kama and Johny Vigeti of Kalamashaka. In 2009, he released his first single “Evil, evil, evil”, that was before Octopizzo’s “Ivo, ivo, ivo” which has a similar title. The single gave him confidence and he released a second single “Kula Qorna”. He was also involved in ciphers with artists such as Grongi, Jemadari, G Kon and other hip hop artists.
He had a bad experience with Swaleh of Wenyeji, who after agreeing to record a ‘collabo’ with him swindled him of 5K. The track was never recorded.
Hoodboi was inspired to get into music by his parents who are both musicians. He started rapping in high school. He would freestyle tracks from artists such as Kleptomaniax and many others. After completing high school, he recorded a single “Hood” with Vini Hush and MC Wheepy. He was also involved in many ciphers and it’s where he met Phejozz. They went on to record their first single “ Punchlines Kibao”. After 3 months, he met Lecky-Marzz and he became the third member of the group.
LeckyMarzz started rapping in Form 2. They recorded a contemporary gospel track titled “That’s the way” with an artist called Kevo. The duo went on to perform in functions and shows around Embu. He was introduced to Hoodboi by his cousin and on that same day, they started working on projects.
Soonarmy KE has faced many challenges;
“Kenyan producers are wasting artists. If you go to a recording studio and you are an upcoming artist, the quality of the production you are given is very low compared to a big artist. Kenyan promoters prefer foreign acts and by doing that they are killing the local music industry.”
“Quality studio time is expensive and upcoming artists do not have that kind of money to afford it. Most of the upcoming artists are fresh from campus and they do not have jobs. There is no place to showcase our talent; everyone in the industry is looking to make a killing from upcoming artists. The Kenyan audience is not very supportive; they don’t request for Kenyan tracks in radio or on TV. Kenyan promoters bring artists like Chronixx to preach peace and they ignore Kenyan reggae artists. They are killing Kenyan art. They are killing the creativity of the coming generations. Wiz Kid is scheduled to perform, the VIP tickets are going for 25k, no Kenyan artist can be paid that much. It’s very few Kenyans who can give you a platform to perform without asking for money. Jealousy is the reason we don’t support each other.
Corruption is the biggest hindrance, parents should support their kids who are doing music.
Despite these challenges, Soonarmy KE believes there is a future in music;
There are many opportunities. There is no passion without pain. If you are persistent you can make a living from music.
The future is bright, there is nothing given on a silver platter. Music is like a girl, you have to invest in it. Work extra hard, don’t stay in your comfort zone, record and market your tracks. Our future is brighter than the complexion of light skin rapper from Kayole.
The future is so bright, put your mind to it and work hard. The only thing that comes easy is blue and rnb.
Kenyans in general have to start appreciating local content. The promoters and the media houses should use their various platforms to showcase Kenyan art. Deejays, radio and TV presenters should change their mentality that they have to be paid first to play Kenyan music. Play 90% percent Kenyan music, pay Kenyan artists well and the whole industry will grow and everyone will get a share from the growth. Mkosa mila ni mtumwa. We have to free the next generation and let them be the best version of themselves.