Things you should know about Eddy Kenzo | Kwesé

Things you should know about Eddy Kenzo

Things you should know about Eddy Kenzo

17:15 SAST | 28 Mar 2017

Eddy Kenzo took the world by storm with his track ‘Sitya Loss’, the video of which features street-kids dancing. Catch Eddy on Trace Africa in the show Focus (Ch 615, 8 April at 14:00 CAT), which celebrates his life and music. And here are a few things you probably didn’t know about the man who was born in Masaka, Uganda, and grew up on the streets.

  1. His real name is Edrisa Musuuza. He was born in Masaka, central Uganda 
  2. His mother died when he was five, after which he mainly grew up on the streets, spending almost 13 years as a street kid. He was fostered by caring adults at one point in his childhood. On street life: “I was the mother, father, grandfather of myself. I was the boss of my own life.”
  3. At one stage, while growing up, he squatted at the Nakivubo Stadium in Kampala, getting by selling water and doing odd-jobs. 
  4. Up till 2012 he spoke virtually no English; on becoming famous he began teaching himself the language.  Luganda is his home language, one he is proud of and wants to promote.
  5. He believes he was born to be a musician: “Music is everything to me; music is my passion, music keeps me alive.”
  6. He attributes his success to discipline: “Success goes to those who are humble and disciplined in what they do.”
  7. He composes his music ‘free-style’, working experimentally and spontaneously in the studio to beats that he likes, similar to Jay Z’s technique.
  8. He believes in putting God first: “Keep chasing your dreams, if God wishes, everything is possible.”
  9. As for his music, which has gone viral, he says: “These are no longer my songs, but our songs. They belong to everyone.” He refers to his genre as ‘Kenzo-style’.
  10. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni used his song ‘Stamina’ in the 2011 election campaign. As Kenzo put it: “I worked with him for two months in the campaign, and he won.” He is, however, ambivalent about going into politics himself: “I don’t think I could be President. I never went to school; I’m not qualified.”
  11. His message to his fans: “Thank you so much for loving my kids. It was my idea to put these kids in front of you. It makes me feel special that you love what they do.”
  12. When his self-directed ‘Sitya Loss’ music video of dancing street children went viral some questioned its authenticity. His response: “Some people don’t believe they’re from the ghetto, but they are ghetto kids. They’re poor kids…they have nothing. Some have parents, and some don’t have parents.”
  13. He credits Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs with helping ‘Sitya Loss’ go viral by sharing the video on social media. After that many others shared it, including Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho. (Catch Sean Combs’s Revolt channel on Kwesé TV, Ch 605)
  14. Pop music legend Akon wanted to sign him, but he turned down the offer because he didn’t need the extra publicity a record label could give him.
  15. He only did a year of primary school. He got into high school for his football talent, but he had to lie about having completed primary school. He later confessed to the headmaster that he didn’t know what was going on in class; the headmaster encouraged him to keep going to class and keep playing football.
  16. His father was a retired soldier: “He was an askari, these people that open people’s gates, he didn’t care about us because he had nothing.” He has a brother and a sister, but doesn’t know any relatives from his mother’s side, or his father’s side.
  17. His mother is Rwandan. She came with her father to Uganda, fleeing the Rwandan genocide.
  18. He won the 2015 BET Award for ‘Viewer’s Choice Best New International Artist’, presented in Los Angeles. ‘BET’ stands for Black Entertainment Television network, and the awards are to celebrate and recognise entertainment and sporting excellence among African Americans and other minorities.

As far as awards go, his only remaining ambition is to win a Grammy. As for music in general, he believes he has lots more to offer. His advice to up-and-coming artists: “Originality, you have to be yourself no matter what. You are here to create, not copy from other people.”

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