When Coke Studio Africa concluded last year, Wyclef Jean came calling. I don’t mean to brag, but this year, I met NE-YO. I was at the press conference where he was unveiled to the rest of Africa as the guest star for Coke Studio Africa Season III.
I love this show for bringing together acts from Africa and the rest of the world to collaborate. NE-YO will be performing a song with Ice Prince (Nigeria), Wangechi (Kenya), Alikiba (Tanzania) and Dama Do Bling (Mozambique), in what you can call a hotbed of musical genius.
I think this is important; the more collaborations between African and international artistes, the better our music scene becomes. And as we strive to build our own continent, the fusion and mash ups are indeed a revolution.
The African artistes selected to work with NE-YO are revolutionaries in their own right. Wangechi is trailblazing as one of the youngest and most talented female rappers in the Kenyan rap game. Alikiba is one of the key shapers of Tanzania’s bongoflava scene with mega hits such as Cinderella and Nakshi Mrembo. Nigeria’s Ice Prince has staying power and relevance evident across the continent.
Now, back to meeting NE-YO…
As soon as he landed on Kenyan soil, the pictures started. I was following his feed on Instagram and Kenyans were trying to hide how excited they were that he was in the country. I knew I was going to meet him at the press conference, but I still stalked him – just a little – to find out how he felt about being on Coke Studio, and being in Africa.
The press conference attracted hundreds of celebrities, media and of course screaming women. Ok, they were not screaming, but you could see that they wanted to. A journalist from the Nairobian asked him to tell us what he did ‘last night’. No surprise there. The superstar said he had been to Tamasha (a local club) but wouldn’t disclose where he would be spending the night.
After the press conference, he went around taking selfies and then – check this – he came up to me and said, “Stay classy.” Then he shook my hand. I still haven’t washed my hands since… You know what I mean.