Navio Gets Raw
Navio.

Navio Gets Raw

It's why I did raw... I'm competing with the big boys now... Goodbye!

By Peter Allen Kigonya
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First published: July 21, 2010

I remember the first time we interviewed Klear Kut here on UGPulse... one of the first Entertainment interviews on UGPulse - and definitely the most ambitious article for our young site at the time. I remember when Jane came to me to publish the interview. A lot of the musicians we were interviewing were unknown to us in the Diaspora but this one interview was an interesting challenge because it consisted of an exciting group of Ugandan college kids on different continents. Papito in Kampala, Langman (or the several names he called himself) in Malta, The Mith in India, JB in the United States and Navio in South Africa.


It is sometimes a nightmare dealing with one Ugandan artist on the Internet, or/and on the phone, especially back then in 2006, but Jane handled it skillfully. Jane was excited because it was one of those indepth interviews that had everything we asked for in an interview. The photos were plentiful and answers were indepth, full of substance and funny at times. For my part, I remember thinking how I could possibly have 6 people talking in a Question/Answer interview... a concern Jane shared. Till I decided to use photo thumbnails at times before a one of them spoke... to keep the reader on track with who was speaking... since no one knew these crazy ambitious kids. Sounds like small stuff now but back then we were patting ourselves on our backs. We never did this hard type of interview for any other group on UGPulse since then.

This by the way was the interview that introduced me to Juliana who at the time had a ground breaking hit with Klear Kut. When I heard of All I Wanna Know, and when I realised "Juliana Kanyomozi" searches were hitting the Klear Kut article in large numbers because of the mention of the song, I went on the hunt for a Juliana interview which I finally got a year later and asked Jane to help me there as well. The Juliana interview went on to become the most viewed article on UGPulse for a couple of years.

Right now these names are pretty much well known for those who follow Ugandan music. The boys are now men and there is no longer need for thumbnails to know names like Navio.

Navio
Navio.

After Navio's recent release of hits like Respect, Nawulira and now Raw, I got this feeling that the spark (internationally) had now become a flame and I reached out to him to know what was going on... I also felt the need to understand his distractions in the Ugandan Hip Hop scene which at times seemed not to be ready for him. I needed to understand the crazy unending drama between himself and GNL, and between himself and Canada based Babaluku.

Navio was not lost for words...


Peter: You know Navio, I was interviewed by Ladybrille Magazine a couple of months ago and they asked us who we thought was the next big thing in Ugandan music. Now you know that our answer was UGPulse's own Nick Nola... But seriously, next on our list, we were quick to add your name...
Navio: Well, thank God there's more than one of us eligible for "the next big thing"!

Peter: Over the years many of us... probably especially those of us in the Diaspora, have always thought that you are so close to crossing borders with your game... to a market that would probably appreciate your talent more. What do you think has been that missing element that has kept you from being a more superior force when it comes to hip hop in Uganda?
Navio: School. Truth be told I started with Klear Kut in a gap year... then I was back in school for another 6 years. This means that I actually haven't had a chance to jump on the celebrity I had. If I added up the amount of time I've actually been doing music, it would be hard to give me over 3 years.

KLEAR KUT with Mon Coeur Murder of Crows





 

If you're talking about being a superior force in Hip Hop specifically, not even being away from school could've stopped me from being that. Klear Kut... a crew I was in. GNL... was in the industry for 5 years before I got him recognized. Bataka... I was the first one to promote Lugaflow and make it credible. All of these elements make up a force in UG hip hop that I helped shape. Me not being around didn't mean I wasn't a force. Damn near feels Illuminati sometimes!

Peter: Now the pressure of rapping in Luganda... Did you feel that this was a missing element? Was there a point in time where you felt lost with the need to conform? Perhaps to get a fan base in Uganda?
Navio: In terms of gaining a fan base, I'm still building towards the following I had in the Klear Kut/Rukus days. And even then I was using Luganda on every album. I think that "knock out the biggest dude on the block" to get respect, is a thing artists get off on. Even when I wasn't around I had people trying to pick at any flaw they could find.

I'm a graduate. So I'm under no illusions about what my role is. It's kind of a pity really. In Nigeria, Fela Kuti, Dbanj and M.I will stand on the same stage with no issues. All mostly doing songs in English, but still keeping some of their heritage. They still get support from the local fans. They have 190 million people but are bound together when promoting "one of their boys".

My fans know my skill level, and it goes past language, skin tone and bling!! A good artist can't be denied. The media is doing more to mislead the fans than anyone.

Peter: And then comes GNL, who you helped expose, and before you know it he takes the Hip Hop game to a level unseen before in Uganda. This was something not only you, but others in the Hip Hop game... including Lugaflow artists like Babaluku, Sylvester and Abramz, had contributed to without reaching as far as he did in a short time... Was there ever a sense of not being appreciated by fans and the industry? I mean there have been so many people, before the current Ugandan hip hop artists, that have paved the way for hip hop in Uganda. Some of us remember not-publicly known hip hop artists performing on stage in the year 1990 at Saint Mary's, Kisubi, only to get tomatoes thrown at them... I mean this literally. All of a sudden this one guy GNL comes in 15 to 18 years later and takes the credit of a couple of generations of build up... Could this have hurt a few?
Navio: Just to clarify... Baba wasn't here until a few years ago so don't even put him into the movers and shakers column. He came and released battle songs for all of us then apologized and became an activist. He didn't shape anything apart from activism. Just because you're old doesn't mean you were there to shape anything but the way your crew flows. Talk about P-Tech, D&D slam, Sylv & Abrams, Urban Life, Mc Afrique...these people shaped it and I knew these people! Shit, call out DJ Berry before Baba... and I'm not even hating. Respect to his community work but that's about it.

But just to clarify, there are people who "move" the game forward, then there are people who "talk" about it.

If anyone has ever talked to a Navio fan, you'd know that they aren't going anywhere. These are people who appreciate real mcs! I've done hits here and competed to win at the hardest battle circuit in Africa. There are reporters who finished school then got into media all of a sudden have no clue about our history but act like they're speaking for a nation. Take me to Namboole... I kill it. DV8... killed it. Europe... killed it. Africa... killed it. And so on... and so on. But maybe if I was a student seeing us back then, I'd hate on it too!

The Mith feat Navio and Eko with Boss Vaawo





 

The whole purpose of GNL was to stir up the industry. The Mith shaped his flow and I put him out there on 3 of my songs. But please, don't compare what Klear Kut did to GNL. We were at the Kora Awards off our first single. It didn't take us five years like him. Any issue me and GNL had, turned out to be with kinks in his management and personal issues that I didn't know about till later.

Ernest is my boy but I'll call him out some times when I hear a false truth. When he'll say, "I enjoy playing basketball with my friends after studio," I'm like... that's what I do. You still bounce the ball with two hands. When he'll say, "I used to battle at DV8," I'm like... no you didn't... I was there! So when the beef started it was hard to over look some issues. Even though he was my student, I think he bought into the media and started telling a combination of me and Rocky's lives! But that's all over now, he's his own man, so much respect and the best for him.

Peter: Were you appreciated by GNL for the push you gave him?
Navio: He's definitely shown that appreciation to me personally. But when the media started comparing him to others and he didn't show any respect, I was surprised. I guess they say all respect is earned... If he felt like I didn't earn it after all I did then so be it. I'm making too much ground to give a damn right now. My market stays unaffected by all of it so whats the point?!!

Peter: Back to the Luganda thing... this definitely has served GNL well. Lugaflow... or rapping in Luganda. I don't get what your problem is with the term "Lugaflow". Your term "Ugaflow - or rapping in Uganda (well I believe it's your term) is okay too. Why should we drop "Lugaflow" and replace it with "Ugaflow". Why can't the terms co-exist such that one is the subset of the other? Clearly they mean two different things... For each of them, it is what it is. Why is there a need to get rid of the term "Lugaflow"? Or do we get the story wrong here?
Navio: I don't know!!!!!!! I've been saying they can co-exist but some Lugaflow cats wont listen. You've got it exactly right with the definition. There is Nyanki flow, Soga flow etc, but they only have a problem with us. Meaning the problem is now with me personally? That I'd understand better. Lugaflow doesn't need to be gotten rid of, the definition just needs to stay in place for more than 6 months at a time! Lugaflow was "Luganda" flow... This is undeniable. Then it switched to Swahili "Lugha" for all vernacular languages. Then Bunny Mc told me, you can use English but in a way that represents. I mean to start with, it's spelt wrong if it's supposed to be in Swahili... Clowns!

UGAFLOW HAS NEVER CHANGED its DEFINITION!! I made Lugaflow credible here and that's a fact. It was sidelined at first and that's a fact. To show support to me "Krayzie Native" who is one of the two founding Bataka members appeared in Nekoleera Gyange. He couldn't come to terms with the fact that they were beginning to say you have to speak in venac, because he raps in Luganda but he's from the West! He's known me too long to want to go head-to-head. HE probably made the rules on the "revolution" change. So peace to Krayzie (currently known as Saba Saba) if he's being real.

Despite what you say, my crew doesn't have "classes on Navio". That's whats been happening at their camps. "We only have verses against you cause it was homework" (Bunny MC). I'm flattered that y'all punks are up at 4am writing verses for me? I'll still be looking down at you from my billboards!

I'll quote one of my new songs, "How can you say that the ghetto is what you're repping (representing) for, when more ghetto kids feel my records instead of yours?"

Navio ft GNL with Salooni





 

Peter: Before we get further with your is dealing with Luganda... Are there any other unresolved negative issues between you and GNL... and between you and Babaluku? Apparently there is some name calling and from most accounts the fingers seem to be pointing at you. Do you want to use UGPulse to clear up anything?
Navio: I have never said a bad word against anyone that wasn't prompted by what someone said. I was in SA for 6 years battling and never got into any lyrical beefs. Are you kidding? People are saying I started that bull? I think the public knows me better than that. My Jaja was watching the first time they talked about me. I was at a friends and she even told me to tune in, so lets not even go there. Don't you think MY family would have told me to cool it by now if I was the igniter? C'mon UG, lets stay focused!

As for finger pointing these are the facts: Babaluku came back from Canada with 4 songs mentioning Klear Kut, Lyrical G etc. SO PLEASE EVERYBODY GET YOUR FACTS. He had these songs before I had heard of a guy called Baba.

In the end his excuse is he did it when he was younger: "Like in 98". Kind of peculiar since I wasn't rapping until 2000.

I don't have any beef tho. If I did cats would've been hospitalized by now. Lyrically or otherwise. I'm done with it.

Navio ft Charles and Frida Ssonko with Nawuliranga





 

Peter: You have found a good balance of rapping in clean English while keeping it very Ugandan... Like the duet with Nawuliranga. Whose brilliant idea was that?
Navio: Mine. But I have to show credit to the way Aethan chopped up that beat tho. It was amazing!

Navio & Jua Kali with Respect





 

Peter: How about the song with Jua Kali? Tell us about the collaboration. Are you reaching out more to markets outside of Uganda?
Navio: That's the whole plan. People always wondered why I stuck with perfecting my English. It's because I don't want to be spitting 18 verses in a language that nobody understands out there. Don't get it twisted, I think language is important but K'naan, Wale, 2Face, Mode 9, P-Square, D'banj and so on... aren't being forced into it. I'm comfortably one of the illest on the continent right now. If I wasn't in school I would've been out there sooner, but I had to finish. It was always going to happen. I just had to show respect to my UG fans first, by releasing here first. With this album I'm having a launch in August, then hitting Europe and the States on tours I've already been paid for! I'm on another thought process right now and I OWE IT ALL TO THE UG FANS that supported me. It's why I did raw... I'm competing with the big boys now... Goodbye!

Navio with Akon
Navio with Akon.

Peter: Yes... Raw. Tell us about Raw?
Navio: No... you tell me about Raw. (laughs) I shot it for y'all!!! It's produced by Allan for AO records then goes into a song produced by Bassik from Malawi. Dempa and Palese feature on the songs.

Navio with Raw





 

Peter: Who shot the video and where did you shoot it?
Navio: It was shot thru Navcorp. We just took a team to SA and got it on and popping. I was there for a while so I know my way around.

Peter: What else are you working right now?
Navio: Got my album coming out on August 15th with the launch. It's gonna be sick. Got production from everywhere and Swangz mastering it! There is also another video with Benon coming out from SA and songs on the project that tackle everything from child sacrifice, to motivation, to the club.

Peter: Was I right in my Ladybrille Magazine interview prediction?

Navio
Navio.

Navio: You better be!! Lol. Time will tell. But when you've got fans that'll do anything for the music, and a musician who would do anything for the fans- that's a winning combination.
Much respect to the Kabaka and the Nabagereka. Wangale!
Much respect to all my FANS, I LOVE Y'ALL!
Much respect to the PULSE!!!!!
Peace. Lets push Unity.

Navio UGPulse.com Playlist




By Peter Allen Kigonya
more from author >>
First published: July 21, 2010
Peter Allen Kigonya is the founder and owner of UGPulse.com,. He can be reached at letters@ugpulse.com.

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