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Nakai: Rising rap queen

In Zimbabwe for an interview on the Arthur C Evans Show recently, IndependentXtra’s Admire Kudita (AK) caught up with Nadia Nakai Dhlamini (born May 18 1990), who plies her trade as Nadia Nakai (NN). She is a South African rapper and songwriter with Zimbabwean roots, who discovered her passion for hip hop and rap music at the age of 16, before recording her first studio song at 18. She changed her name to her mother’s maiden surname Kandava. Likened to United States female artiste Nicki Minaj, she is a rapper who elicits both love and hate from hip hop followers.

Nadia Nakai
Nadia Nakai

With her jaw-dropping looks and rap game, she is one to watch on the African hip hop scene, having done critical collaborations (Saka Wena) with the likes of Nigerian star Ice Prince. Notably, Nakai has a double major in marketing and media studies, which means that every time you see her image, she is an artiste, who quite possibly takes pains to cultivate her vixen image. She is signed to South African hip hop giant Cassper Nyovest’s Family Tree Records.

AK: Can you run us through your Zimbabwean links?

NN: My gran is Zimbabwean from Chinhoyi.

AK: Tell me about your creative process and musical influences?

NN: When I am in studio, I am influenced a lot by the people I will be working with and the vibe they have that I can feed off, which is part of my creative process. I normally write in the studio because I love working when there is the right vibe in studio. Musically I am inspired by people like Travis Scott, Kanye, Riky, Jay Z, Rihanna, Cardi B, Nicki (Minaj) people like that.

AK: There is no African in your list of influences. Is that an anomaly?

NN: Riky is African

AK: Oh okay. What do you consider your strongest suit?

NN: I am very patient.

AK: When will you consider yourself to have made it?

NN: I don’t think I ever will, every time I reach a milestone I always find another one.

AK: Yah but surely you have milestones you are reaching for…Do you have a muse?

NN: Lol Na

AK: Why did you choose the genre you trade in? Was there a moment when you decided this was gonna be the music you would do?

NN: I gravitated to this genre, growing up my mom always used to listen to people like Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, very soulful music that told stories so that how I found myself going into rap. But my sound keeps evolving as I grow.

AK: What are you working on right now?

NN: I’m working on my merchandise at the moment called Bragga, which will be available at the Family Tree Store. I am also wrapping up my new single to be released soon and finishing off my album to be released this year.

l Interestingly, rapping in both Shona and Xhosa, word on the street is that Nadia Nakai is set to do a collaboration with Zimbabwean award-winning hip hop head Calvin who was recently nominated for the outstanding hip hop artiste in the forthcoming Bulawayo Arts Awards to be held on June 30 at the Large City Hall.

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