Kenyan Multi – talented Rapper Muthoni Drummer Queen Speaks To African Voices

On this week’s episode of African Voices, CNN International meets a multi-talented rapper from Kenya who is making a comeback at a festival she created ten years ago. Through Blankets & Wine concerts, Muthoni Drummer Queen (MDQ) hopes to continue to give a platform to both upcoming and established musicians in Kenya and East Africa.

MDQ explains how growing up in Nairobi taught her how to continue to try until she succeeded, she explains: “I think coming from Nairobi, the thing that is ingrained in everyone in this city is hustling, right, and just figuring things out… Nairobi is not very kind, you are just not going to get things, you’re really gonna need to figure it out… So, I have always sang, I sang…my earliest memories were of just me occupying the toilet for hour on end and belting out tunes and really being in a studio environment and performing concerts for the trees outside… Just hustle and figure it out.”

During the programme, MDQ speaks about the artists who inspired her: “Whitney Houston was just like life and I was like, yes absolutely, this was going to be my future. But I guess I was just ahead curve and my parents were like, that’s cute, absolutely not… There was no, and continues to be barely any, infrastructure for music but there was even less at that time, there were no real successes [for] also a woman in music.”

Yet in 2008, MDQ made a big reach for her dreams by recording her politically charged debut single: Cool Waters. The artist explains her feelings when she recorded the song: “I was just reflecting on what was happening in Kenya at that time, we were in the thick of post-election violence… my heart was so heavy… Kenyans lived through [the] really intense and stressful days where it wasn’t clear where we were going and I think for me, the frustration that so many lives were just on the balance because some people had decided that they have to be the ones in power, I was so just frustrated with the whole experience because the loser is always, us, the regular Kenyan… So, I wrote a song about that.”

MDQ has gone on the create the Blankets & Wine concerts. She describes to African Voices the importance of the festival in Kenya. She says: “I had to create a space for myself to exist and I had create[d] the space for other artists like myself to exist… In figuring the space out for myself, I ended up inventing this thing called Blankets & Wine, which is a music festival, that is actually turning 10 and I think it has been really instrumental in creating space for live music here in Kenya and for mainstreaming what has been considered alternative music for many years.”

Every year the Blankets & Wine festival continues to grow and be a success as MDQ explains: “When Blankets & Wines sold out it’s first time and we had like 300 tickets, it was like yooooh, we have crossed over to the other side… Every month it happened, and every month people came, and they were like, wow, this is so cool and it’s growing and people felt like affinity to it and brought more friends and it really, it really felt good.”

Through the Blankets & Wines festival MDQ hopes to continue celebrating Kenyan music and musicians: “I think, more than anything else I really want the people who leave, who come, these audiences to leave with a sense that Kenyan music and Kenyan performances is this maturity that has happened here.”

African Voices airs Friday 8th February at 1230 EAT on CNN International.

African Voices airs Friday 8th February at 1230 EAT on CNN International.

The show also airs at the following times:

Saturday 9th February at 0230 EAT, 1430 EAT and 1830 EAT
Sunday 10th February at 0700 EAT, 1130 EAT and 2200 EAT
Monday 11th February at 0730 EAT