I Am Relentless – Kao Denero
Sierra Leone’s hip-hop artist, Kao Denero, has carved a niche for himself in the music world and put his country on the map yet again with his music that is based on life experience and the obstacles people face in achieving success. The man also known as the King of Freetown is currently working on his international début. And as a CEO he is put out a few albums for his group, Black-Leo. But he says he is just basically working hard towards growth and becoming the best he can be. He was SLMTV.COM 2009 hip hop award winner along with countless of more awards in and around the world, and has opened shows for acts such as AKON, 2 FACE Idibia and P SQUARE of Nigeria and a 2006 collaboration with Grammy award winning artist SHABA RANKS.
Kao Denero is back again with another Album which many in the entertainment business say will take Freetown by storm. It is called “Blood Diamond kid story”. He breaks his silence in this interview with Politico’s Ishmael Bayoh. It’s a telling stuff!
Politico: You’re a rap hip hop artiste, why did you choose hip hop?
Kao: Hip hop is the brand of music that allows the artist to express views usually that’s not accepted in other genre of art or music. I mean just like reggae is, hip hop presently is the voice of the youths of the world. Also I am a very poetic individual and can describe myself as an artistic individual. Meaning I grew up loving art, painting pics, storytelling and creatively expressing of oneself. Hip hop allows all these aspects of life.
Politico: You started with the name Snoop Kao, how did it come about
Kao: Truthfully I was a big fan of Snoop Dogg, still luv his music. We had a crew back in the days commonly known as the Poison Clan which later transformed into Da Cow Pound, then into Black Leo. My friends were just used to calling me Snoop Cow till I realized that I had to be original so I decided to flip the cow to Kao and replace the Snoop to Denero which means “money” in Italian; something we all crave for.
Politico: Hip hop is now getting a hold in Sierra Leone, can you share some of your experiences from its cradle
Kao: I feel so good when people accept the domination of hip hop music in the heart of West Africa; it was not easy in the beginning stages. First of all I will like to thank a dude like Jimmy B who casually introduced us or who was the first Sierra Leonean who made us believe that it is possible to come from where we’re from and still rap good. My story will be remembered as someone who persevered against all odds to represent and do what he truly believes in, when I started hip hop was frowned upon until I kept on making the youths believe and realize the creativity that is involved in being a dope hip hop artist especially doing songs that they can relate to as emonah/die u yai open/leff badhat/i pledge/anything/baby/warrior and now watasai stone. lol.
Politico: How was it like coming back and forth from the states to host your shows?
Kao: I luv coming to Sierra Leone not to wrongfully influence the youths into gangsterism but to contribute in the development of my country in the field of entertainment. I learnt a lot residing in Guinea before traveling to the States and watching Ghana and Nigeria take it to the next level. I realized that charity begins at home and no-one would believe in you if your own people don’t. I believe I have achieved that part of my career now it’s about time making the world believe the vision. Also doing anything in Sierra Leone can be frustrating sometimes especially dealing with brothers who tend to look @ you sometimes as an outsider just cus you’re coming from the States. But once you get over those huddles and learn how to play their game you should be fine.
Politico: Things have not been rosy with other groups like Dry Yai, Noble squad and now RFM – Can you tell the genesis of all that
Kao: My relationship with Dry Yai is fantastic, expect some shocking collaborations on my album and theirs cus we realise that it’s bigger than us. We have a responsibility to entertain and be great role models to the young ones and the best way to exhibit such behavior is by showing unity. I can’t elaborate with the others but I wish them all no harm.
Politico: Who started the beefing in Sierra Leonean hip hop?
Kao: I mean I can never point any finger to a particular person saying they started beefing and most importantly I believe that term is being misused at times. We had disagreements amongst each other due to the competitive nature of what we do but I believe I never had the intention to hurt or kill no one or involve myself in actions that will bring harm to innocent individuals. There was mutual respect on both sides, ask dry yai if they don’t respect Kao. I believe they do likewise I respect them in what they do.
Politico: What went wrong between you and LAJ as you created an impact on his Moni Na Bank track
Kao: I wish the brother well, I felt betrayed and used. That’s all. I’m a clean-hearted individual but sometimes I don’t get back the same in return. The position I find myself in makes me a target for unwanted drama so now I just shake it off and ignore. No more free promotion for cats. LOL.
Politico: Do you see him (LAJ) as a threat to your music career
Kao: People recognize the real and know true talent so they support me; and the excitement I bring to this game is well needed that’s why it’s funny when you have individuals who are bent on bringing me down unknowingly failing to realise they are destroying the whole industry altogether.
Politico: What is your comment about his involvement with Big Fish and him being charged for the alleged illegal possession of firearms. Do you see it as a blot on hip hop.
Kao: I have enemies brother, unfortunately. I would rather make more friends than such. But I guess it comes with the territory of fame and music. I have learnt the hard way.
Politico: Also you had issues with the entertainment wing of the 50th Independence Anniversary Committee, how was that settled?
Kao: My money was paid. It’s embarrassing to realise that our government is being sued by Nigerians due to the selfish nature of one individual. The truth shall come out one day no matter how long it takes cus like our people say [monkey nor dae leff hin black hand lol]. I almost lost my record deal coming to Salone for the celebration just to show how I care about my country whiles these guys were busy planning how they could destroy me for no reason. It’s pathetic.
Politico: At present, the hip hop artistes are being accused of creating violence in the music industry, what is your reaction to that
Kao: Hip Hop is innocent as charged, maybe some individuals who claim to do hiphop are guilty and trying to destroy what we have struggled to bring up. I’m planning on creating a hiphop union soon that will have guidelines.
Politico: Why did the “King of Freetown” create discomfort for others?
Kao: Because he is relentless and continues to be break new ground – one of the best rappers Africa can boast of.
Politico: How did the issue of King of Freetown or hip hop come about?
Kao: If you open a line of bizzness I believe you will tend to name it the most attractive way to get attention right. That’s what I did. Presently I’m working diligently in at least making sure Africa – if not the world – recognizes my work. I hear most people most times tend to make the sierra Leone and Nigeria comparison which is crazy to me it’s like comparing a cat to an elephant lol. Music is about numbers and unfortunately Sierra Leone is such a small country with less buying power. Nigeria has a populace of [about] 200million people ready to support their artistes whenever they go on tour, putting their numbers on YouTube into the millions and in the path of international music. These are the things dat count, not how many great songs you have done, sadly.
Politico: You have a deal with Creative Factory in Atlanta Georgia how is that going?
Kao: My relationship with creative is still existing and mutual, it was
my first ever experience in dealing with labels in America which means I had a lot to learn. I’m thankful for the opportunity which enabled me to make some great relationships with great people. I’m working on moving forward into bigger things like Bad Boy/Def Jam/inters cope or the rest.
Political: There is a video on You Tube where Isaiah Washington was hosted by VOA journalists where he likened you to Notorious B.I.G and even said that you are better. And he also thought you should have a deal with P Diddy’s Bad Boy. Can you elaborate further?
Kao: I’m currently not yet signed to Bad Boy Records but I deal with people on the regular bases who work for Puff and are part of bad boy records who respect my talent so much. I believe the sky is the limit with the music I’m working on right now [check tracks like moonlit dancing feat RJ]. Isaiah Washington is like a brother to me. We hang out and kick it like friends will do whenever he comes thru to Atlanta. For him to compare me to one of the best emcees ever to touch the mic is a concern that is priceless. My objective presently is to not fail important people like him and my fans. Also it is for me to keep working and creating epic music that will make my people proud.
In the next issue Kao talks about his forthcoming album, Da Blood Diamond Kid story. Stay here.