- DJ Malaika was a laboratory technician working at a mineral company before trading her skills for the wheels of steel in 2013.
- She says she was not fully happy at her previous job, and that is when she decided to enroll at a deejaying academy.
Ikibamba sana wapi nduru weweee’ (If you’re having fun, scream!) This is one of many famous phrases used by deejays to hype the crowds in clubs or outdoor parties, as they urge the revellers to let loose and dance to the music.
Being a deejay has become a lucrative business, going by the number of entertainment groups that have formed to increase their chances of earning a living.
While the majority of Kenyans are guided in the conservative way — go to school, get an education and find a well paying job — many youth are breaking away from that age-old norm to join the business of disc jockeying.
Known to be the life of the party, these men and women dedicate themselves to reading and directing the mood of the party.
Over the years, women have proved that they too can work well in this male-dominated field.
Deejays such as Pierra, Redbone, Novia, Lil Mo, Eel, Tabbz, Shock Africa are some of the women in the business. As Makena, aka DJ Pierra said: “It is not easy because people associate you with a loose life and all sorts of evil, yet this is a job just like any other.”
Deejays in Nairobi earn from Sh40,000 for a club gig to Sh200,000 for a corporate event.
More young people are sharing videos and pictures of themselves doing what is “lit” for them through the hashtag #Lit360.
We caught up with a few leading female deejays to learn how they were able to perfect these talents.
“I have been in this industry for almost a decade now and I can proudly say that I am happy to see more women taking up the challenge in this male-dominated industry,” says Pierra.
Starting out as a deejay in 2009 was not an easy feat for her. She says people were not yet ready to see a woman being a disc jockey.
“When people hear that a woman is working in a club they start thinking negative things about her. But that is not what is happening now, deejaying is no longer a club thing, there are corporate events and people have now come to respect the hustle and the job.”
“For me, the most exciting thing in being a deejay is of course the money. There is also the travelling and the fact that you are responsible for making people happy while dancing and having a good time,” says Pierra.
But being a deejay is not a matter of someone just waking up and thinking they can do it. There is a lot of practice and preparation. One has to do research for themselves; know the size of the crowd and its age groups, she notes.
“I believe female deejays are taking over. Having pioneered this industry I feel very proud to have been an inspiration,” says Pierra.
DJ Malaika was a laboratory technician working at a mineral company before trading her skills for the wheels of steel in 2013.
She says she was not fully happy at her previous job, and that is when she decided to enroll at a deejaying academy.
“I did not feel happy and satisfied as a lab technician and that is why I decided to go for what I love. So I enrolled at a deejay academy for three months and since it was my passion, it was easy for me to learn the basics. After this I started networking with influential people who helped me start building my brand,” says Malaika.
She started playing in club events before getting major gigs.
“I love what I do, it’s amazing. Of course, you will get some people who will try to bring you down by trying to ruin your reputation, but you just have to believe in yourself and trust in your talent,” she continues.
Another fast-rising female deejay is DJ Mellow. In a past interview she highlighted some of the challenges a female deejay faces on a daily basis.
She revealed how brutal it is in terms of demanding fair pay for a gig. She says most event organisers are more inclined to pay male deejays more than the female deejays.
“For instance, club owners have this notion that female deejays don’t have what it takes, thus they feel we should charge less — not close or equal to our male colleagues. It irritates me. Some of us do a better job than the men and, besides that, each of us has his or her rate card and standards,” said Dj Mellow.
But she believes that if a person stands their ground, it will help them conquer some of these battles. Because being a deejay is what is “lit” for her.