The Majirani Interview: Groovy Jo opens up about her music journey, upcoming EP and more

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Touted as one of the firebrand emcees in Kenya’s contemporary class of rap, multi-nominated rapper Groovy Jo is a unicorn. Having churned out two dogged EP’s that have stuck her name in every relevant rap conversation in Kenya at the moment. ‘Bundini’ as her core fans refer to her as has already served up records with well-respected names in the industry including Boutross, Asum Garvey, Vallerie Muthoni, Thayu Mwas, and more just to name a few. Groovy Jo’s capacity to slither on diverse genres including Shrap, Pop, Afro Swing, and Shrap – yet still be authentic and deliver her zany punchlines makes her an erudite of Kenya’s musical offerings at this stage. Speaking to Hip Hop Africa, she makes it clear that despite the deficiency of support from native Kenya, she will keep making music that is unbounded by geography.

“I honestly do music ’cause I am passionate and I’m not making music for just the Kenyan population but for the entire world in general” Groovy Jo mentions.

In one of her most candid sit-downs, she lets us in on new music, tentative dates, the growth of womens’ deposition in Kenyan music from her eyes, and the impact she wants to make outside of making bops for the baddies.

Exclusive Groovy Jo Interview

Hello Groovy, tell us about yourself and what music you make?

I’m a Kenyan performing and recording artist, my main genres are Hip Hop, Shrap and Pop. I have been making music professionally since 2018 with two EP’s, out and a third coming out May 2024.

Can you share your music journey with us from as far back as you recall until now? 

Wow, I started rapping when I was young, heavily influenced by Nicki Minaj I think when I was 11. I first heard “Itty Bitty Piggy” and I immediately looked for her tape, downloaded it online, and I will never forget – I think it was the first body of work I downloaded and listened to religiously. It’s crazy how it inspired me and how she plays a huge role in my music journey. Now 14 years later I’m living my dream! I get to do it every time I hit the studio and every time I’m on stage so I’m not complaining.

What are some of your greatest milestones so far?

I got to perform at Nyege Nyege in 2023 back in November and it was incredible. The crowd I pulled, my whole team was there it was quite electrifying for me ’cause of the reception. 

Also one of my tracks got featured in a Kenyan film which is a huge milestone for me cause I think that’s every artists’ dream to be featured in their own country’s body of work.

What would you say has been your most significant setback? 

I think myself I tend to overthink a lot about my music and how I want it to be. I am my biggest critic but it’s a work in progress.

What motivates you the most?

My desire to inspire anyone who listens to my music to go for what they love and chase their dreams no matter the odds – corny but true.

What about the music industry triggers you glaringly?

How artists act towards each other; we’re all in this space and we need to support each other. Kenyan artists be snooty as hell like they in Cali or something.

Let’s talk about your latest single “Majirani”. Tell us about it i.e. the inspiration, creative process, collaborators, and the concept.

Majirani is a feel good trap song; I wrote it just chilling in my house. It just came off that vibe. My producer sent the beat and we locked it in.

Word is, you have a project in the works?

Yes my third EP is dropping in May. I am so stoked cause it’s heavy on the rap. ‘Pressure’ is a sweet feel good tape. We go harder on the bars for this new EP and surprise features.

What can we expect from the forthcoming EP?

New features, heavy trap and some feels lol. This tape is special ’cause I wrote it at my lowest I feel but it came out beautifully.

In your legacy, what does this era of Groovy Jo define? 

It’s unapologetically accepting one self and loving oneself’s flaws and all. Its about accepting growth and change no matter who has to be left behind. This new era is like a rebirth and it’s quite exciting.

Talk about being a woman in the contemporary music industry today ie how is the treatment, what are your challenges, and what do you love about being a woman? It’s been hella welcoming lately, when I started off not so much. Sometimes us women are our own biggest enemies. Female artists do not support each other and its quite tragic. Across arts, not just music which is a part of the problem. The plus side is that the mindset has changed; women also receive a lot of support that wasn’t really felt. But we need more shows headlined by women.

Is the Kenyan music industry rewarding as a woman? 

Not seeing the rewards yet I must say. I honestly do music ’cause I am passionate and I’m not making music for just the Kenyan population but for the entire world in general.

The rewarding for me is making an impact that sticks so until I attain that I can’t answer.

What is your parting shot? 

To my fans i love you so much. Thanks for the continuous support