Hip hop artiste Julius Owino popularly known as Juliani has been enjoying a quiet life away from the limelight for some time now.
The Dandora born and raised musician is a former member of the celebrated Ukoo Flani Mau Mau hip hop group known for highlighting socio-political issues affecting the society in hard hitting lyrics.
Thomas Matiko spoke to him about his prolonged silence in the industry
What’s good man?
Everything is great, we thank God.
You have been silent for quite some time, why?
I have been doing other things away from music. Actually I took a two-year break from actively doing music. I recorded seven videos, uploaded them online then went AWOL. During that period I was involved in so many community projects like Hip Hop City, Customer Bora and My Msanii.
So what do these projects entail?
For instance with the Hip Hop City, we provide resources and tools to help empower the disadvantaged youth out there, be it upcoming artistes, small scale business entrepreneurs or any other person looking for an opportunity to make a? living.?
You must have lacked, financially that is, for those two years then
Why is that?
You weren’t doing any shows, hence no money from concerts
(Laughs) You are wrong. I was doing shows but selectively, I did a few. But then again, I don’t depend on shows to make money, to feed myself and take care of my young family. I’m a very creative guy with so many ideas that help me make my money in many ways.
So you don’t entirely depend on music?
Everything about me is music, I mean everything that I do trickles down to music. But what I’m saying is that I don’t depend on shows to make money. Music is not all about shows you know, it’s just a fraction of it when it comes to matters earning.
Do you have sponsors who are funding these community projects you talk about?
I actually fund them.
Really, isn’t that a very expensive venture? And what do you get out of them?
I’m one guy who never fears taking risks. Right now I’m not making a profit, all I’m doing is pumping money in, but with time these projects will pay back handsomely, I’m certain about that.
You are one of the few artistes in the country who don’t seem to embrace the beef culture in hip hop, but for some reason back in 2015, you went on a social rant claiming the only rapper between Khaligraph Jones, Octoppizo and Rabbit that has got more bars than the three is you. What was that all about?
I did that because our industry is boring, there is no excitement. There is nothing that the artistes are doing to excite the masses, at least not anything that I have seen.
So that particular time I felt I should do something to cheer people up and that’s how it started.
I was more than ready to pay for a venue so we could showcase our prowess but no one turned up or showed interest for the would-be rap battle royale.
You address social political injustices in your music, and your lyrics are different from other hip hop artistes who show off in videos, rap about money and women. Why?
You know music is music. But by and large it’s an extension of oneself. If you are a ladies man, you will sing about them. For me, my lyrics are the way they are because of my upbringing.
Musically, I have been raised by Ukoo Flani and Kalamashaka and what they used to sing about, are things I grew up seeing, taking place in Dandora. I can easily sing about such happenings than I would about money and fame.
So what are you planning now that you are back in to the music scene?
I’m gearing up to launch my new album in April (next year) and then come August 25, God willingly I will have the biggest hip hop concert ever in the country.
I’m thinking of doing it in a stadium, if it’s successful it would be one of a kind here in Kenya.
You invest heavily in your music. We don’t get to see such big risks from? local artistes
Growing up in Dandora, I never thought, even for a second that someday I would be in a position to do such kinds of things.
This is among the biggest dreams I have ever had and now that God is sufficient I think it’s about time I chase it, I have had it for very many years.
There have been reports that your relationship with actress Brenda Wairimu is on again-off again, what have you learnt from the whole experience as celebrity couple?
I’m a very private person when it comes to my personal life, I never exposed anything concerning my relationships, ilikuwa ni watu tu na stori zao.
Are you implying that all those stories were fabricated?
I’m not denying anything, but all I’m saying is how would one know what’s happening in my relationship and write about it if I never talk about it in the first place?
Did those reports ever bother you or affect you in anyway?
Not at all, I always say never feed the demon.
How would you describe your life as a father and husband to be?
It’s been a good experience, nothing much has changed except for the priorities.