BYZZO THE BADDEST - MY STORY
My name is Johnson Bakari. I’m coming from a family of six. That’s two parents and four children. I have two sisters and two brothers. I was born and raised in Kibera, Laini Saba. I stayed with my parents until I grew up and knew how to tackle things on my own. I went to Soweto Primary school. That’s where I completed my class eight exams and then went to Soweto High school. completed my high school in the year 2017.
I’m coming from a humble background. Putting food on the table was difficult sometimes. There were days where my mom and dad would go outside to find something to put on the table and it was not possible. We would sleep without putting anything into our stomachs. The most embarrassing moments were on Christmas days when most of your friends received new things from their parents and you come out that day and just look the same. Friends would ask you: “What, you don’t have anything new to put on?”. It was embarrassing.
There were some little challenges while growing up, but mostly I remember having fun and playing with my friends. By the time I think I didn’t realize I was an artist. I loved playing football and watching movies.
In highschool, I think in form three, that was when I realized I was an artist and I have the ability to do rap music. I discovered it in class. We formed a group called Maskas group. We wanted to try and see if we could do it. We sat down, wrote some music. It was flowing, and many people liked it. From then on I knew I can do rap music. I can do it, and I can perform it on my own. I’m still part of the group, but I also like doing things on my own. So, even if the group is not available and I have a platform, I just do my things.
I’m a humble guy. I love doing my things and making friends. I take my own responsibility. I love the place where I’m staying, I love my career, and I love myself.
Important people in my life
My parents are the most important people to me. They will never give up on me, no matter what I do. They will stand firm and protect me. They will always push me until I reach my goals. And of course, the most important thing in the world is God. Number one, God first. If you want to be successful, you need to believe in God. Other people that are important are my family at large. And then, the society. They support me when I perform. They come and tell me: “Just go, never give up.” The society encourages you, then you go home and pray to God. He gives you wisdom, and you just keep moving.
Mostly I depend on my music. When there is somebody having an event, the office of Kica can contact me and we organize what I can do. When there are no shows, I do some little works, like building works. I just do things instead of sitting idle. That’s how I survive.
I always write songs. Whenever I’m walking, or anything I do, I write songs. There are always papers in my pocket with my newest writings. Right now, I’m writing to my haters. I’m telling them to stop talking about me. I don’t have so many haters. But you know, when you progress there will always be some that like you, that love you, and some that will hate you. For no reason.
I’ve written a lot of music now. I’ve also performed in many platforms. Kica reaches me whenever they have an event. I joined them through my friend Edward. I’m enjoying the free time to rehearse, the sound system and the team that helps me improve.
I thank God Almighty for being with me throughout all my music career up to where I am now. Thanks to other people I was able to learn so much. Thanks to them telling me what they thought was good or what they thought was bad. I’ll always take the advice and keep on moving.
In the future, I just want to have a good life. I’d like to record my songs and make a video. Earning money for my arts would be great. I’d love to make my living this way. My biggest dream is to make it, and then help other upcoming artists do the same. Just like my role model did to me.
My biggest dream is to wake up one day and find that my songs are on the billboard.
I get inspiration from my surrounding, from where I live. I wish that through my music, people can transform the environment they live in. What I’d like to change most is the young people who get engaged in criminal activities. They are my biggest target. I wouldn’t tell them directly “stop doing this or that”. I would use other words. For example, I would compose my song telling that we need to work hard. A criminal might listen to my song and understand that good things come when you work hard, and that everything will be okay.
A great role model to me is Octopizzo. He’s a Kenyan rapper, and he’s known everywhere. I joined his workshop, where he tought upcoming artists how to conduct themselves, how to write good music and how to brand themselves. I’d say he’s my very first role model. His music makes you move, even though you don’t feel like moving. You’re just carried away. The most important thing about his music is that he always talks about his community where he was raised. He’s from Kibera. And he tells people to reform. If you do bad things, just reform.
My music is inspired by hip hop. What inspires me when I rap is seeing the crowd moving, singing along with me. I love these moments. I think my style is unique. Sometimes I lower my voice, then I rise it. That makes my rapping unique.
Life as an artist
A good memory I can recall was when one day, I performed on the same stage where my role model was performing later. We performed on one stage! And after performing there, I was given some little thing to put into my pocket. That was the most memorable moment in my life.
The worst experience in music is when you put everything in and you go to a music studio, and then the producer doesn’t give you the quality you need. Another thing is that you might do good music, but it can not get air played. It’s impossible to reach the media. You need money to get your music played. It makes it hard for people like us to get our music heard.
Making a change in Kibera
Life in Kibera is enjoyable. It’s a good life. If you take me to another place, I don’t think I would feel comfortable. The noise of people on the street, children playing, you come to eat some chapati, you go there, you meet friends and socializing. That makes it an amazing home for me.
If I could change anything in Kibera, I think I would change the youths. From negativity to positivity. That’s what I’m trying to do with my music.
Art is transforming the community, from the way it is to a higher level. As we say in Swahili: “Sanaa ni kioo cha jamii.” Art is the reflection of the community.
When an upcoming artist has for example a good voice but doesn’t know how to write a song, I could do that for them. And I would like them to know that they are loved.
My message to the community
Never give up on what you are doing. There is no one on this earth who was born doing something perfectly. Whether it is playing football, doing music or whatever talent you have. Never give up, and one day God will open doors for you.