Founder and CEO of Blu Ink, Khaligraph Jones started his music career from nothing. In 2004 he made his debut in a studio as a duo with gospel singer Hopekid.
He tells Word Is all about it.
“I came from something but it was nothing compared to the standards that I’ve set right now. The perception people have is that I come from a very well-off background-but that’s not the case”
“I started rapping when I was a kid. I started with gospel music around 2004 when I recorded my very first song. Hopekid and I had formed a group in Kayole because we were in the same school. We didn’t have a name for the group, we all had our own individual names. The producer really rushed me, I was 13-years old when I first hit the studio. At the time there weren’t many studios. I was with Hopekid but it was a memorable moment.”
Four years later, he went solo and chose to get into the secular world.
“I officially got onto the stage as Khaligraph Jones in 2008 at a function called (WAP) Words And Pictures. That’s where I launched my career as a rapper and I was no longer doing gospel music. I wanted to create my own path. At the time I felt like everyone was doing gospel music. I wasn’t comfortable and I didn’t want to lead a life that I am not living. I didn’t want to preach water and drink wine.”
“In 2009 I took part in the channel O MC Africa competitions, they were seeking to find the best rapper to represent Kenya on the international map and I emerged the winner. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a passport and ID and I was still in high school, so I didn’t proceed. I used that as a stepping stone to launch my career professionally in 2012.”
Back in the day, he was a young man with only dreams of the next meal he was going to put in the table “We didn’t have money for food or transport, so our dreams were limited. I’d say to myself, ‘dream that I eat chips and chicken tomorrow’ until time progressed and our perspective broadened. Then I began to live life. But we didn’t have dreams, we just wanted to eat.”
“My purpose for doing music is not the fame or money that comes with it, it’s because I’m passionate about it. So even when I was going through these trials and tribulations, I tried harder, I was passionate about it. I am talented so irrespective of whatever situation, I’m still gonna be vocal with my music.”
Rapper Kristoff was one of the first people who collaborated with Khaligraph who later introduced him to rapper STL and blew up in the remix to the song Biashara.
“I was introduced to STL by Kristoff, we used to be very close. I bumped to him on Facebook and we started communicating. Then I featured him on the song We Be Happening,which was a banger and was received well. At the time, I didn’t know anybody. So STL wanted to do the remix of the track Biashara a year later, she came back from Norway and we did the video. In 2012 he was 22 years old.”
The hitmaker says he wouldn’t change a thin given a chance to go back in time
“I wouldn’t try to change anything. God has elevated me to a position where I’m a person of influence. I’d tell myself to keep on grinding, be on your hustle and God is gonna open doors.”
Unlike other artistes, Jones describes his coming into the industry as “rebellious”
“I was dissing people and I’m an upcoming artiste. I didn’t come into the industry as everyone did. I was different. I was vocal and that’s how I made my name. I’m the best at what I do. I came in as a rebel. Because of the talent that I had, they had no option but to accept me. I made my way through the industry. I never packed my self to fit into people’s expectations. I was the OG when I started and I am the OG now.
Until now, Jones maintains that he will continue to be vocal in his day-to-day life “People call me asking me to address issues on their behalf. I play a very big role in the industry. People who are afraid of speaking out and have issues that make sense.
Out of all the artistes in Kenya, if there is an artist that has worked with many upcoming artistes it is me. I don’t discriminate and I work with people on the basis of talent and not money and if I am in a position to put you in the spotlight, I will do that. But as much as I want to, I can’t help everybody. If you are doing music, be patient, do more music and things will work out.”
He campaigned on the #PlayKe a revolution that came to be, thanks to the rapper who was willing to save the industry
“I believe we’ve made strides into achieving success and of the debate #PlayKe, Gengertone cam, We have all these kids from Sailors, Ethic, Rico Gang, Ochngungulo family, Zzero Sufuri. We have a lot of them who are coming up and it shows that the campaign was successful. Kenyan music is on another level right now. In Kenya, people release a video and it hits one legit million views in a few days.”
Although he got into the industry vocal about what he believes in, Jones says he is the most dissed artiste so far in the country
“I have been dissed. I have been dissed the most. Khaligraph disses are so many. I never take these things personally. People who don’t know me think I’m arrogant but it’s what I went through. I had to undergo a lot in the industry so that upcoming artistes have less struggle. You can’t compare where the industry is now and where it was a few years ago. I do music for a living and everything I have, I got it off the music. I built a brand and it attracts people, so they put money on the table.”The struggles of his life have been put into many of his tracks, especially one that he holds especially dear.
“I source for useful advice from whoever. There is a song called For Life in my album Testimony 1990 that I put out n 2018. That’s my favourite track of all time. I highlight some of the stuff that I went through before I came up.”
Late this year, he hit the headlines for being accused of threatening a DJ, something he denies.
“Some people don’t understand that when an artiste is called to perform they have a responsibility of ensuring that fans are entertained. If anything is to go wrong, the fans won’t blame the DJ, they’ll say Khaligraph’s performance was boring. As a DJ, you need to do what you are supposed to do. Don’t be over-excited and play your drops that make the artiste look like a fool. The DJ’s reputation will be maintained but the artiste will go with bad press and there are corporates who watch me perform and they don’t want shoddy performance.”
He adds, “I have my own DJ but I can’t go with him to every event that I’m called for. Sometimes I work with in-house DJs.”Surprisingly, the rapper is one who has the simplest riders in town “I roll very simply. I keep time in events and I don’t ask for unthinkable things. Like in a club there are towels, energy drinks and thinks like that. My manger does most of the talking, I just need parking, water, security and it’s a wrap.”
He is a multi-award-winning artist who has been recognised more outside than at home.
“Awards mean that people are appreciating your efforts, it gives you the motivation to work even more. When I see that happen, I see God opening doors and people acknowledging my efforts. Until the other day, I had never been awarded in Kenya. I never complain I’m always grateful.
In 2012, I made a tweet that I will get to BET and I was laughed at. People made fun of me. I’m gonna win and I’m gonna go back to that tweet. I once said I’m gonna be the best rapper in East Africa, look at me now.”
But why does he use AKAs other than Khaligraph Jones?
“Both are my names, I went for a certain interview in 2013 and after I did my freestyle, the radio presenter called me Papa Jones, from then, that’s when the name stuck as one of my AKAs.”
He confesses that his recent mindblowing songs Ruby and Boni were not a result of his own life experience
“Ruby is not from my personal experience, this is the story of what one of my friends went through and before that, I had released Boni. I get these stories from people. I made it mine and spiced it up and made a song out of it.”For the first time ever, Khaligraph opens up about the deaths of Sagini, his former signee and the legendary rapper Kantai
“I never knew Kantai. I only knew him because I was a fan. I loved his music and I loved him as a fan. When we did Timbadimalo, I was still coming up. I looked for him and it wasn’t easy, did a song and media tour and that’s how it ended. After that he released some music. I never saw him since. When he passed away, I was told not to go to the funeral, that I led him into depression and took his style and ran with it. I met with him only twice. I didn’t know him personally and I believe he was going through personal issues. Kantai to me was like Jay Z. Where were these people who were saying that I didn’t help?”
“I wanted to attend, but the mum told me not to. The information was sent through some guy. So, we mobilised some money and sent it. Kanati inspired me and that will never change. The information was hurtful and because I didn’t go to the funeral, people spoke not knowing what was happening behind the scenes. ”
“With Sagini, people said I also never helped him. He left my label six months before his death. People were always looking for someone to blame. I don’t have everything. I have a family and many people are depending on me.I have sung with so many artistes and If anything happens to them, it doesn’t mean I have caused it.”
“The other day I was driving and I saw a video on YouTube written, “Khaligraph Jones Failed Me.” If someone approaches me to help, I can only give what I can. Sometimes people have big expectations. He came to my studio and he performed during my album launch, that was the deal. I decide to keep the kid close but music wants a lot of time before you get money. That’s a young kid who is coming up. I will help you where I can. Imagine, even my cousins wantt me to help them.”But what does music mean to this mogul?
“Music is everything to me. I am not driven by fame and money. Its is passion.”
The rapper wants to be remembered “for doing what most people thought wold be impossible. I started a revolution. It was possible. They stared playing Kenyan music. Right now you can also tell a person that you are an artiste and believe that ithttps://classic105.com/’s a good career, I want to be remembered for instilling that. ”
Also as you enjoy yourself this festive season, I’d like to inform you that the OG does not drink…At all!
In 2020, he says Mazishi ni ile ile!