I was just here on the internets; surfing through new records, perusing emails to see if I might have missed that response from M.anifest or better yet, if Ammara Brown had yielded to my marriage proposals. Pretty much minding my own biz. Then my SoundCloud player spinned this record and I started booging. The raps were decent, the vocals clearly audible. I was loving the production too. Then out of the fucking blues, I hear a hook resembling Charusha by the fam over at IBD. I flipped the tabs to check who was this cat, hit replay and listened again, the artist credited was one GBO alias Golden Boy Odongo. I should have guessed. The song was titled East African Girl. That was 3 weeks ago and it lead to us writing this article about the crop of artists to watch in 2016. A week later, I revisited that particular song and listened some more. Having followed GBO and his Miagi movement for a second, I decided to hit him up on twitter and inquired if he ever noticed any similarity between his single and IBN Cash’ one. He responded diligently and stated that indeed, he got a little bit of the hook idea off Charusha. And that, dear brothers is how you build a reputation – Honesty. I devour candor and veracity. On seeing how self-effacing the brother was, I invited him for an interview so that you, the good people of our motherland can get to know one or two things about this Golden Boy and what Miagi is really all about.
You just stepped into a courtroom to answer charges of assulting a fan for calling you an ‘unknown’ rapper. How would you introduce yourself to the prosecutor?
My real name is Noah Odongo, but as a rapper I’m known as GBO (Golden Boy Odongo) which was given to me by my late Uncle. I’m born and raised in Kenya.
RIP to your late Uncle, at least he left your something to remember him with. You been making music for a minute?
Well I started writing raps when I was 10, and been writing almost everyday since, but would only say I started taking it seriously a couple years ago.
Seems like we can have so many rhyme books to publish should we manage to raid your house! So after all those years of just writing, how did you finally decide to step in the booth?
Well, I was initially inspired to start writing after listening to the Marshall Mathers LP, and although it just started as fun, I found myself getting quite good at it and after a while thought why not? People liked what I was doing and not only was I incredibly passionate but music kinda became my release or therapy, so I took it more serious.
A hobby growing into a passionate love affair, how sweet. By serious, you mean you can play a couple of instruments?
I played drums for like 7 years when I was younger and due to dipping in and out of production every now and then I also kinda play the piano. Not professionally though.
Ooh, you’re a producer too… Hmm, can you say there’s anything new you’re bringing to the game?
Good question. Maybe someone else that knows me should answer this. Haha. I know it sounds bad but I really don’t know. Theres so many artists all trying to be unique, It’s hard to know what new thing I bring to it, but I’m just trying to be myself. Authentic. And hopefully people will like it.
1% authenticity is still way better than 99% fakeness and for that we say keep doing you. Talking about authenticity, how did you build your style?
It just developed over time from different artist that inspired me. Which would include Eminem, Jay-Z, Pac, Dre and a few others. I think my style is most definitely still developing to be honest. Every song I try do something new, whether its flow or the topic or the style or whatever.
Which is great because they say growth is a process, but would you say the music has evolved?
Well apart from it no longer sounding like it was recorded in a bathroom, I feel its become more honest. When starting out I was just trying to emulate the rappers I liked, but as I grew and developed, my songs became more personal and inspired by real emotion. For example one of the last songs I released “Memory Of Love” was a dedication to my mom that passed away and the emotions I went through during that time.
Our condolences on that, brother. They say each tear makes us stronger. Would a random search on your playlist show us any mbarrassing song?
Hmm… Probably Adele, or Beyonce. And most recently Justin Bieber, the intro on his latest album was great.
Who knew by the turn of 2016 we would all be Beliebers? Those are pretty decent artists though, how about a genre you can’t stand?
EDM. I know it’s the big thing these days but I’m not a fan of about 98% of it. I need words and emotion I just don’t feel it provides me with that.
Now that you’ve mentioned the current status quo, how do you view the Kenyan scene at the moment?
Its growing for sure. Theres a lot of new exciting Kenyan artists and it’s a great thing to hear what new stuff they come up with.
And with that comes competition and chest thumping! Who do you consider the King of rap?
Eminem. When it comes to just rap and lyrics and technical ability theres no one better in my books. Put him and your favourite rapper in a room to just rap and I’m positive he’d eat them up.
Thats a cue for us to play some Medicine Man, hehee. Skills aside, what do you consider determines who gets to the top?
To quote Mayweather, Hardwork! Dedication!
But some are talking about illuminati and the sort. Do you believe in such?
Well I don’t know too much about that, nor do I believe in it. But if you happen to know whats going on, let them know I’m willing to sell my soul.
We gatchu, there is a Facebook group for registration fam, we will submit your request Lol. Is GBO looking to collaborate with any artist?
I think it would be pretty interesting to do something with Sauti Sol or on the other hand Khaligraph do some sort of back and forth speed rap record.
Those are not only big brands but huge talent pool too. It’s nice seeing how you’re positioning yourself. Do you have any memorable performance so far?
Probably my first professional performance ever which was in Brighton UK at a fashion show. Just being given a chance on a professional level for the first time meant a lot to me.
You’ve been out here performing in the UK bruh! You really have surprises, what other hidden talents are we yet to find out?
Don’t know if it’s a talent but I can eat a lot.
Unless you come from Western Kenya, that in itself is a talent sir! Let’s talk about Miagi…
Miagi is a brand me and my friends created. Orignially started out as a clothing company, it soon became a studio, and record label ontop of still being a clothing line. It kind of became a way of life. How we do things and encourage our artists to do things, differently but still to the highest quality. Wax On Wax Off.
Hope we are welcome to this lifestyle, sounds interesting so far. Would GBO date a fellow celebrity?
If we get along and you’re cool then I wouldn’t really care what you do or who you are.
Which country in Africa do you think has the hottest ladies?
I gotta support my East African girls, song out now haha and especially my home country women.
That was smart indeed, we shall not press further. What of a favourite chillspot?
Swahili Beach, Diani. Easy!!
You really are a patriot. Has GBO ever been busted doing crazy stuff?
Umm.. I can’t remember, haha.
You mean it was that bad you forgot? Anyway, what’s that single wish have for Africa as a whole?
This means you have to quit eating more as well, remember your hidden talent? 😂😂😂 What will give you satisfaction at the end of your career?
To leave a legacy and get respect from those I respect.
For that, we hope your idols never become rivals. It’s been entirely fantastic chopping it with you man. Great moves, great spirit and you are a funny fella. It’s always a pleasure hearing from you again and we look forward to seeing more project from you and the entire Miagi team. Who would you like to shout out as we wrap this?
5 Layers, Flat 13, Miagi and my Family.