Artists To Watch: Afamefuna

 

Afamefuna is a producer from Nairobi, Kenya who releases nothing but saucy beats and I bet you’ve bopped your head to some of them. He’s worked with some of Nu Nairobi’s most promising musicians and is set on making a global mark with his sound through both local and international efforts in collaboration.

He has worked with artists such as Wangechi, Kahvinya, Dai and Bahati Bookings. If you’re eager to find out which songs he produced himself then read on!

Afam the artist & Afam the person, are they the same person?
Yeah, for sure. I don’t think I portray myself differently through my music or any other art form that I do. I just try to keep it genuine in art especially. If you’re different in person it becomes so tiring trying to keep up with your artist persona because that’s where it becomes a job. So I just try to be the same Afam I’ve always been, even when I’m making music.

How would you describe your sound and what inspires it?

To be honest, I cannot describe my sound yet. People who listen to my music or that I have collaborated with say I have a distinct sound but I myself do not know what that is. But I do try to be as versatile as I can; I can usually go from Trap music, to R&B sounds and other times I can move towards dance and electronic feels. I really enjoy people who push the boundaries of rap music such as Monte Booker (Smino’s producer) who is one of my biggest inspirations and Nick Mira who produces for a collective called Internet Money who make emo trap music that sounds like Juice WRLD and lil skies. I’ve also been getting inspiration from a lot of Kenyan music such as “Make Believe” by Karun, Sichangi and Blinky Bill, which is genius and Be Nice” by Fuzzkill and Janice Iche.

At the core of it all though is my mother. She’s an artist and a painter, and has really helped me tap into my artistic values and strengths. She encouraged me to start out drawing and graphic design which further helped me explore other creative outlets for myself and led me to music.

Have you always been interested in music?

Yes, I’ve been interested in music since I was about 8 years old. I’ve always wanted to know how people make music and how they made one thing sound the way it did. I’ve always thought people who make music are the coolest because of that. It’s one of the reasons that made me download FL Studio and start making beats. Listening to people like Beyoncé and songs like “Baby Boy” alongside artists like Sean Paul really inspired my ear.

How & when did you start?

It’s kind of a funny story. In 2012 I was listening to “I don’t like” by Chief Keef and that beat is crazy! The bells on it are just crazy. I listened to that song many times, I fucked with the energy and that’s when I decided I wanted to make trap music and had to start making beats. So I did some research on the song and found the guy who produced the song, a guy called Young Chop that I really fucked with. I connected with him because he was around my age at the time and he was huge! If he could make it using such music, then so could I! I owe my real start to Young Chop. He inspired me to make an all trap beats album which I uploaded and removed from Soundcloud. Eventually, I started listening to lots of other different sounds that inspired my first collaboration with Kahvinya and Harawa called “We Ascend” which was on a whole other spectrum of music from Trap. I can’t even describe it. This made me realise that I could be versatile with my sound, although Trap beats are what I enjoy making the most.

 
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What's your favourite thing about making music?
My favourite thing about music is the fact that I can create something out of nothing. Today morning I made a really dope beat, a beat that didn’t exist yesterday until today. That energy from that beat and today will exist for as long as people listen to it, you know? And it’s such a beautiful gift to be able to create something. Obviously we can create things from more than just music, but for me music is one of those ways that I was just able to learn as a creative outlet.

If I'm not wrong, you study in the US but live in Kenya. How's it like being a musician from Kenya staying abroad? Do you feel a difference?
I moved to the US about 2 years ago, my dad is based here, so I live with him. But I’m more grounded at home in Kenya and I love coming back for the holidays. Nairobi has my heart and I feel complete there surrounded by my friends and family.

I haven’t really felt a difference in terms of how I make music between the two places, because I’m really not that social, so I’m doing the same thing I do at home in Nairobi, which is make beats in my room. Most people who know me and my music have never actually met me. However, that is going to change. I definitely need to get out there more and work with more people. So I think I still have a few more years to develop that difference between the two. I am looking to working with people from here but I will never stop working with people from home. For me, the scene in Nairobi is something special and the talent is immense!

In your bio, it's says you're part of a collective, Benzonit. Take us through that.

Benzonit is a collective of artists, producers and rappers, founded by a guy called Wamae - we call him Benz. He is such a good producer and consider him a genius, I genuinely look up to him. Then there’s our managers Sifuna and Arnold who bring us and all our artistic ideas to fruition. The other producers are myself, Marky McFly, Zenchkiid, and a good friend called Peter Sidai. Then finally there’s Kane and Nate who are the rappers. Right now we’re working on something that I’m not in liberty to speak about just yet, but I do think that we’re quite lucky to collaborate and work with each other the way we do. So it's an honour to make waves together. There’s a special chemistry in working on a beat or melody with friends who share vision in the collaborative process, and because of that our goal is to be the biggest collective of producers and artists in Kenya. We are wavy and we believe we an do it.   

What has been your favourite project to work on so far?

There have been so many. The first time I sent a beat to someone and they actually rapped on it - that was crazy to me. But if I have to point to a few songs I’ve worked on with people, they would be:

Minimal fucks + art - Dai x Tan
Trap - Kerby
Holy Water - Ekumbo x Baraka

Each of those collaborations has a story behind it, but all in all they mean something special to me.

What are you most excited about for the future?

I’m just excited to keep making music, to keep progressing and to work with a lot more artists. Recently, I started working with some 15 year old rappers from Seattle and to be honest I’ve been blown away since we exchanged ideas. They both call themselves Fathomed and the music that we have made together are all certified bangers! So I’m excited to work on more projects like that.

 
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Other than music, what else do you do/interested in?

Drawing is one of my other passions. I actually started around the same time I started making beats and I’ve loved it ever since. There’s something really cathartic and peaceful about it. I also recently started writing courtesy of a creative writing class that I took in school and it’s been an interesting journey. I really respect writers because writing is really an art of its own. It’s a very recent interest but I think I’ll start taking it more seriously as well.

The greatest challenge many artists face are several cases of self doubt and anxiety. Have you ever faced these challenges and how do you overcome them?

Bruh, I face those challenges all the time. Self comparison has been my biggest vice and it would take a serious toll on me. I even stopped listening to other people’s music for some time because of that. I left Med school to pursue music and that gets to me sometimes. But later on, I changed my perspective in that everyone can learn something from the other and that I don’t have to be too hard on myself. Everyone is unique in their own way. I am Afam and I can only make what I can make. Comparison can only go so far, so it’s better to gain inspiration from others. Dig deep, ask questions and stay inspired!


Is there any particular work that you are most excited about in the coming future that we should keep an eye out for?

Yes! Upcoming projects with the group I mentioned earlier called FATHOMED (they can be found on Soundcloud) and also a couple of songs did with RU.BY for her soon to be released EP. As Benzonit we’re looking forward to the release of “Pengs In The City” music video. It’s going to be big moment for us.

“If you chase a dream and give it up, getting back is nearly impossible”

- Afamefuna