Fikra Kweli

Born on 22 February 1985 in Nyeri Kenya, Fikra Kweli grew up in Kibera until 1998 and from there moved to Upperhill. He went to Nyeri Primary School between 1991-1998 and then Tala High School from 1999-2002, (Hana Mixed Schoo,l Uganda) 2003-2004 and then Makerere University from 2005-2009  where he graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism. He is currently managing Wana Cleaning Services, a waste management company in Zambia.

From 2004 he was in a duo called M22 (Mtu Mbili) with O.K.O and part of the U.H.F (Upper Hills Finnest collective) and is currently recording in Zambia under DJ Vyro's Certified Music. In 2017, he managed to drop his first solo project… Being Me -The Mixtape.

His legal name is Francis Nderitu better known artistically as F.K (Fikra Kweli) and he is currently working on his second solo project which shall drop in June (more info to follow on his socials whose handle is Fikra Kweli).

Welcome to Micshariki Africa kaka. Kindly tell us briefly, who is Fikra Kweli?

Fikra Kweli (F.K) was born in 1985 in Nyeri, Kenya where I also attended primary school (Nyeri Primary School) while living with my grandparents and going to Nairobi to live with mum during holidays while she was still staying in Kibera Namba 8, Karanja road. I went to secondary school in Tala High School 99-2002 then proceeded to Uganda for my A levels and later joined Makerere University. 2013 I relocated to Solwezi, Zambia where I work as a manager for a waste management company partly owned by my aunty.

Which hood do you represent and where are you currently residing?

I have grown up in Upper hill, Nairobi but I’m currently based and work in Solwezi, Zambia

A brief history on when you did start music?

I wrote my 1st verse in ‘96 when I was in class 6 together with my friend Steven Githendu (I wonder where he is right now) who we would listen to music with. We would cut music lyrics from newspapers and then perform them in class and together we started trying to write our own music and come up with something fresh.

How has the journey been like so far?

My journey so far has been great because I am doing music part-time; I have still managed to build a fan base that is loyal to the point of sponsoring my music projects and various other forms of support e.g. new ideas and constructive criticism.

Challenges that you have faced in this industry so far?

  1. Finances to pay for studio time
  2. Lack of proper guidance on how to go about the music business.

What is that one unique thing that sets you apart from your peers?

I try to learn from different people and artists from diverse genres. I fuse this to come up with my own work inspired by my previous work and not by any trends. However, I wish to leave it to my fans to toot the horn for me.

Since you started doing music, what is that crucial lesson you have learnt?

The greatest things are to push but be patient enough to not settle for what does not fall within your goals. Persistence and always putting effort into improving your craft and following up on your dreams. Good music will always have an audience.

You were part of the group called M22 (Mtu Mbili) with O.K.O and part of the U.H.F (Upper Hills Finnest collective). Are you guys still working together?

The various challenges I mentioned earlier meant we did not pursue music together as careers plus all of us relocated, as we grew older, moved out of our parent’s houses and Upperhill became a commercial hub. However, we have never broke up but our different life responsibilities and localities means we don’t connect as much but we try to stay in-touch and we have some collaborative works in the pipeline featuring each other.

You are currently residing in Zambia. What is the difference in Zambian music industry and Kenyan industry, what have learned?

Zambians play their music everywhere you go most of the time and more so on radio as opposed to Kenyans.

As much as the Zambian scene is more grown, Kenyan music is more competitive.

With the above in mind, artists should incorporate more of the earlier music, influenced by traditional sounds, which resonates better with especially older generations who constitute the bulk of policy makers and who have the capacity to promote the growth of the industry.

How do you describe your creative process?

I keep an eye and ear open to everything happening around me and also read widely, this helps to broaden my perspective on things and topics which ensures I have a variety of words, means and ways I can express any Idea or topic. I get inspired by things happening around me, which can lead me to research and take time to write lyrics. I can also here an instrumental at the studio in which case I will just sit down and write.

What is the type of music that you typically create?

Socially conscious Hip-Hop music.

Your take on the current state of Kenyan Hiphop?

I feel it is looking better than ever before. There is a lot of people making a decent living off it and this will go a long way to inspire others to take their craft to the next level. This has largely been due to social media (availability of diverse music to the masses and option to choose).

You have an upcoming album, what should fans expect?

Better music than what they have previously heard from me since I have used the lessons from my previous works to make this album.

Your top 5 emcees in Kenya, and the reason why?

Kamah: edutainment and a spectacular choice of words.

 Vigeti: intricate delivery and the God father of techniques when talking Kenyan Hip Hop.

Abbas: witty and able to fuse hardcore concepts into commercial pieces.

Romi Swahili: This generation’s version of a proper old school emcee. Techniques, concepts and all

Nyashinski: Even though he may not be considered everyone’s definition of an emcee but to me Shinski is up there especially when it comes to professionalism, delivery and sticking with topics in very relatable ways.

Where can our audience get you on social media and music platforms?

Facebook: Fikra Kweli
Twitter: Fikra Kweli
Soundcloud: Fikra Kweli

If given a chance to improve Hip-Hop, what will you do?

Sponsor classes to have artists taught how to be professional, stay relevant and how to maneuver the music business.

Word to your believers?

We are still here and making steps no matter the size. Thank you for believing in me and never shy away from making me better through sharing your thoughts and constructive criticism on my craft. I am because of you.

Anyone you wanna shout out?  

My mother (Mama Ndech’), Nderitu family, my wife, my kids and the whole UHF members out there.

Parting shot?

No one owes you anything so when someone supports/helps you do not feel entitled but be thankful.