When you think of music, does it make you smile? Does a particular song that sparks a particular memory start to play in your head? The song you walked down the aisle to, perhaps? Whatever the memory, there's no denying that music is a part of who we are and it represents our culture, style, opinions, and a number of other things.
I had an opportunity to interview Wake, a 28-year-old Ugandan rapper, producer, and spoken word artist who is creating music that represents his heritage, something he playfully terms as afro hip-hop. Wake is also making giant strides as a young entrepreneur, with his brand of merchandise called Mwana Weika which means, Child of Home.
Even before he gets onto the third floor, Wake is making leaps that many struggle to achieve in their twenties. If you think back to a twenty something year old you, did or do you have this much confidence in yourself? Were you or are you teaching yourself skills to better your God given gifts and talents? Did or do you have a brand of fly looking merchandise to make some money off and support your art? Here is what Wake had to say.
Andariya: Who is Wake?
Wake: I am a musician, rapper, an award winning spoken word artist, and an audio producer who is very passionate about African heritage. My music is a fusion of the past and present. I also run a small side business where I sell merchandise such as hoodies and t-shirts for my brand as an artist.
Andariya: Why the name Wake?
Wake: Wake is my stage name. Honestly, the name just came to me. I basically just had an epiphany and woke up to who I am as an African and a person of faith. My real name is Mugoda Gordons Good.
Andariya: What kind of music do you create and why?
Wake: Afro-fusion that is blended with rap. If I could use one word to describe it, it would be afro hip-hop or afro-rap. I really just fuse the old with the new. I like to say that my music is an embodiment of the past meeting the present to have a discussion about the future. My music has components of the past in terms of where I come from as a Mugwere, one of the native tribes in Uganda, who I am in my ancestral lineage, my language, rhythms and culture infused with my own interpretation of the present day rap.
A portrait of rapper Wake. Source: Wake
Andariya: How did your musical journey begin?
Wake: My passion for music started out as a child. I grew up around music. My mother was a music teacher and my dad is a music lover. I used to do karaoke and miming other people’s songs as a child. That is when it all began.
Andariya: How did your passion for music start?
Wake: I am very passionate about society and social justice and most of my work is around social commentary. I try as much as possible to see society through my perspective and what it would be like. I also draw a lot of inspiration generally from life, the things that happen to me and other people. I listen to a lot of music. I also draw inspiration from other peoples’ music. I like kadongo kamu (Ugandan folklore music) and Lingala. I like the sound of Fela Kuti as well, and all these give me the inspiration to create my own interpretation.
Andariya: What are your high points as an artist?
Wake: in 2022, I had two of my highest points. The first was in May 2022 winning the Vine Award for Spoken Word Act of the year. The second was the release of my second album, MWOTTY that I released in June. I will be holding my first ever concert in October and so I would say, this year has been a really good year because of these things.
Wake poses with his Spoken Word Act 2022 Award. Source: Wake
Andariya: What challenges have you faced?
Wake: It is mainly resources. I have these big visions and big ideas that I would love to implement, but I am constrained by the resource envelope and I am not able to pull off certain things to the desired magnitude.
Andariya: Any notable collaborations? Tell us about your concert.
Wake: My latest album MWOTTY is a highly collaborative album with a number of Ugandan artists. My concert, The Mwana Weika Experience is really a celebration point for me as an artist, just to gather with my people, fans, and supporters to celebrate the journey so far and enjoy music, poetry, vibes, connect and grow together. The concert was exciting because it is a faith step for me. I collaborated with other Ugandan artists such as Kenneth Mugabi, Price Love, DJ Victor 256, and Coopy Bly on the 8th of October at Alliance Francais.
Wake performing at a concert. Source: Wake
Andariya: What does the future look like for you?
Wake: I like where I am going. The future looks like I am going to learn and discover certain things about myself that I did not know. I am currently taking keyboard lessons so I am expectant that in the future I am going to be able to create at a much higher level. I also look forward to growing spiritually because I believe this is where all things stem. I am excited about where God is taking me in the future. I am really excited about the next phase of where Wake is going, and I am working on much more music and recording poetry that will hopefully be released in 2023. I m also doing more collaborations.
Hip-hop is one of the newer genres to be widely practiced in Uganda. Mainstream acceptance for the music genre was almost non-existent in the late 1990s when the two music groups, Klear Kut and Bataka Squad were the first musical acts to do commercial hip hop.
Other groups and individuals have over the years risen through the ranks to acclaim national recognition and contributed to the growth of the music genre. The trade has spread across the country and influenced young artists like Wake to rap in their local languages.
If there is one thing we can all learn from Wake, it is that you do not have to be one thing in life. As a self-taught audio producer, rapper, and spoken word artist who runs his own brand of merchandise, nothing is too hard or out of reach for this young man. Neither should it be for you.