Ugandan Musicians: Meet Rah P
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First published: March 20, 2006
Fredinah F. Peyton a.k.a Rah P, one of the most notorious female East African hip-hop artists was born in Mwanza-Tanzania on June 28th 1986. She is the sweetheart of the East African hip-hop movement and many other African musicians in the industry speak of her with awe and respect. When you see her, think of an Africanized MC Lyte, Queen Latifah and Queen Pen who she incidentally grew up listening to and watching.
She has the looks, the brains, the rapping talent and she loves hip-hop music. Rah P is a revolutionary artist. You can tell from her Che Guevara t-shirts. Despite her stunning looks, and the fact that she could ride on the whole 'sex sells wave', she is the type of musician who rocks t-shirts, jeans and flat shoes. She is a tomboy who raps with her hands swinging in the air and enough aggressiveness to give the other testosterone-driven hip-hop artists a run for their money. She is the type of hip-hop artist who you love to love.
Rah P was educated in Kenya and Uganda. She just completed her S.6 at St. Lawrence London College School in Uganda. She was a Mathematics, Economics and Geography student who is looking forward to going to university. Her interest in music started when she was very young. Because her parents disapproved of hip-hop music, she would lock herself up in her room and rap in front of her mirror. But once her parents realized how serious she was about it, they permitted her to follow her passion.
While still residing in Mwanza, Tanzania, Rah P landed a radio presentation slot at Kiss 89.8fm where she hosted the AFRICAN BEAT Show. Her first break and contact with a recording studio came in January 2004. She went to Bongo records in Dar es Salaam and blew away the resident producer P-funk with her raw talent. Impressed by the lyrical prowess and delivery sounds of this young and talented female artist, he began to work on her first record- Hayakuhusu (Swahili for it is none of your business!) In December of 2004 she also released her first video which featured Tanzanian Big Brother Africa representative Mwisho Mwampamba. It was directed by Adam Gile and Anua from 2 eyes production.
Hayakuhusu was popularized by East African radio stations including the Sanyu FM in Kampala and Clouds FM in Dar es Salaam. Rah P is working on her ten track album which she plans to release by March 2006. Five of her tracks are already complete. Rah P has plans of making an East African tour once her album is completed. She also took part and was interviewed as a hip-hop artist in the Diamonds In The Rough Documentary which the American documentary-maker 3rdI describes as a beautiful story about the struggle of the youth finding a voice with music. It's the story of people like Rah P.
Jane: Your real name is Fredinah F. Peyton. How did you come up with the alias Rah P? What does it mean?
Rah P: I picked out letters from my name as you can see there is an R A H in Fredinah and I got the P from the surname. I am simply proud of the name that's why I didn't want to go outside the Diaspora of my name. (Laughs)
You looked mixed? What is your background?
Yes, I am mixed. Though I was born in Tanzania, I have no tribe in Tanzania. That is because my father is Greek and my mum is Rwandese.
What caused your move to do some of your schooling in Uganda?
Basically when I was young, my parents thought it was cheaper for me to study in Uganda where there was higher level of education. Uganda is known in East Africa for that. They also wanted me to learn to be independent and that's why I went to boarding school in 1995 from St. Peter's Nsambya. I did my Primary Leaving Education (PLE) Certificate and then I went to London College of St. Lawrence where I did both O and A levels.
At which point in your life did you know that you wanted to be a hip-hop artist?
Ever since I set eyes on females like Queen Latifah, Mc Lyte, Missy, Rah Digga, Nonchalant, Queen Pen etc. These were the only ladies enjoying their true femininity in the hip-hop game. I knew I wanted to be one of them even though I felt I should reach some level of education... you know? But one day I would like to work with Eve (Ruff Ryders first lady) because I respect her music and capabilities.
So how did you really get into the hip-hop game?
I started out recording tracks from the radio station where I worked. I would write them and sing along the tracks. This gave me confidence so that whenever I looked at myself in the mirror, locked up somewhere in my room I would practice. I had to do it secretly since by then my parents didn't like me doing music. Then after some time they noticed that my grades were good at school and I had discipline so they had no reason to refuse me to go ahead with my music. That's when I ventured into different activities such as karaoke's in clubs where I was escorted by my family. When I completed S.4 in 2003, I went into a studio and did my first track called Hayakuhusu under the incredible hands of Tanzania's best producer P-Funk.
What did your parents think when you decided to pursue it?
Just like I said they saw my grades and discipline were not being interfered by music and they let me do what I thought was best for me.
What inspires you?
Hard work. Period.
I have heard through the grapevines that other hip-hop artists call you East African hip-hop's First lady Rah P. Do other hip-hop artists treat you differently because you are a female?
Not first lady, I believe they call me East Africa's Queen of Bongo Hip-hop blah blah blah. I have received very proper treatment especially with the Ugandan MC's and the fans as well. I can honestly say that Uganda is where I have a bigger fan base. I think it's because I have been there longer and have related and identified with many Ugandans.
Some thing that many good-looking female artists have in common is they find that they have to constantly battle with people focusing more on their beauty rather than their talent. Do your good looks get in the way of your talents?
If we are referring to my talent no one can take that away. Therefore I don't have to convince or argue with people about how I look. I would rather concentrate on the messages I try to put across. Besides beauty is character to me, and not appearance.
What about your school. Did the students and teachers in your former school St. Lawrence London College School treat you any differently?
There was a way that they almost differentiated me from the others. But I refused to accept that and instead I have handled myself socially with my peers and teachers, though in their own way they respect me a lot and I appreciate that.
You had a radio presentation slot at Kiss 89.8fm where you hosted the AFRICAN BEAT show. What was that experience like for you?
I am naturally shy so I was trying to improve on my communication skills. You know someone could stand there and insult me and I am like whatever but someone could tell me to clean my nose and I would get very embarrassed. (Laughs)
How did it feel having your song Hayakuhusu being rotated on all those radio stations like Sanyu FM in Uganda and Clouds FM in Dar Salam?
Well, it was overwhelming because sometimes in the beginning when I heard it I would hide under my bed and was in denial that it was really me singing! It was surreal and exciting! But later on I accepted it when I felt the people liked it. (Laughs)
You did a video which featured Tanzanian Big brother Africa representative Mwisho Mwampamba. How did you come up with the concept for the video?
He was present at the time of the script and he didn't mind doing it. At that time he was being followed by newspapers here which were trying to put a negative image on him. So having him in the video was more of a positive message for those who were after him with bad intentions.
What about the rumours of you and Mwisho being a love item? Are they true?
Do you think we should be? Maybe, maybe not. (Laughs)
So what's your general message Rah P?
I will do what I have to do. I will keep communicating to my fans my people out there no matter which population or nationality it is. I am contented with the fans I have because without them I can only be Fredinah but not Rah P, you know what I mean?
What do you think of the state of hip-hop today?
Hip-hop is going up at the moment although there are those many fake Mc's who try to change the meaning of hip-hop and use it to be famous, get booty calls and things like that but Hip-hop to me is the message. It has to have depth and meaning.
How do you think that black women rappers can change the degrading, misogynic image that some hip-hop artists have portrayed of black women? You know the butt-shaking, breast jiggling...
I would have a four page letter just explaining how they can stop but nobody will listen so let them make their money out of their physical assets and not talents. We will see what's next for them when people are tired of seeing them.
What is next for you?
As for the album just be patient and it will be delivered. But I intend to go to university soon.
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First published: March 20, 2006
Jane won the Miss Africanada beauty pageant 2000 in Toronto where she was also named one of the new voices of Africa after reciting one of her poems. In 2004, she was published in T-Dot Griots-An Anthology of Toronto's Black storytellers and in February 2005, her art piece Namyenya was featured as the poster piece for the Human Rights through Art-Black History Month Exhibit.
She is the recipient of numerous awards for her poetry, art and playwriting and is becoming a household name in Toronto circles. Please visit her website at www.nteyafas.com.