Hadiza Blell popularly known as Di’Ja is a songwriter and musician of Sierra Leone and Nigerian origin. She is one of Coke Studio Africa’s new acts on season III. Di’Ja describes her interaction with rapper Hernani da Silva (Mozambique) and producer Owuor Arunga (Kenya) on the mash-ups with for the Coke Studio Africa performances as a manifestation of music at its best and its power in bringing together different people with a common interest. She goes on to say that working with Hernani in a mash-up has been incredible as he is very patient, always willing to explain what he means in a song, which she can then translate to an appropriate delivery of the song.
She’s been in the music industry since 2007 but gained much recognition in 2014, after being featured in her record label’s hit song, Dorobucci alongside other artists. Breaking away and standing out as an individual artist from Marvin Dynasty according to Di’Ja has been about being true and expressing her unique personality through her music.
She walks into Coke Studio Africa’s Behind the Music room. Despite being petite, her large personality screams for attention. Her warm smile is one that puts everyone around at ease and changes the previously tense atmosphere to a warm and friendly environment. With a double degree in Biology and Psychology and the role that each has played in her life, Di’Ja talks about Biology being all about life, while Psychology helping her to interact better with others. She might not directly apply them in terms of working within related fields, but they have been beneficial and still apply to her everyday life.
When asked if she intends to work with any East African artistes, Di’Ja say that working with Owuor Arunga as her producer is already placing a foot into Kenya’s music industry. She talks of Kenyan music as very expressive and warm, just like the Kenyan people.
“Music is music and that we only categorize it as Kenyan or Nigerian for selfish interests, depending on our preferences,” she states.
Hernani is a Hip-Hop and R&B artiste from Mozambique, where Portuguese is the official language. While some may consider this to be a limitation to the reach of his music, he knows that music is a universal language and has worked it to his advantage. Notably, for an individual who speaks English as a second language, Hernani is very fluent.
Quite humble, Hernani is very easy to relate to. He says he loves his football and his outfits sometimes reveal his great interest in the sport. It is his first time in Kenya while recording Coke Studio Africa, and he loves the experience. One can however tell that this is a man of few words. The former member of 360 degrees has remained relevant even after his parent group broke off. He attributes this relevance as an artiste to hard work and consistency, which have been driven by his passion for music.
The Coke Studio Africa experience has offered Hernani a great and a rare learning platform, picking different lessons from different people and trying to fuse them to enrich his growth as an artiste. He also considers it an honour working with Di’Ja and Owuor Arunga, whom he both considers to be music giants.
“I urge people to watch out for my mash ups with Di’ja – judge for themselves.”