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INTERVIEW: Navio’s knack for hip hop

He started off his music career as part of the award-winning Hip hop group Klear Kut that introduced the term “Ugaflow” to describe Uganda’s hip hop scene. Daniel Lubwama Kigozi aka Navio is best known for his successful solo career with hits such as`Ngalo, Bugumu’, One & Only”, Njogereza’ and latest ‘Tumunonye’.

Navio is a nickname from his days as a basketball player.

“Every time I held the ball, the fans would shout ‘avio’ to mean flight or plane because I used to jump very high,” said Navio.

The song `Njogereza’ was a surprise to his fans as many of them could not relate Navio to a full Luganda song. But to him, it was more of a gift to his grandparent.

Although many take `Njogereza’ to be a tune in Bax raga (Bakisimba fused with Ragga), Navio thinks otherwise starting from traditional drums and fusing into hip hop.

Navio was born and schooled in Kenya for 11 years before coming home to Uganda. He flew to South Africa on a basket ball scholarship at International School of South Africa and later at University in South Africa from where he pursued a double major in International Relations and Mass Communication.

With such a versatile upbringing, Navio says he is comfortable in any setting, be it slums to the best hotels. That is the same reason his fans cut across all classes of people.

Navio is the last born of three children. He describes his mother, the business manager and former Uganda Investment Authority boss, Maggie Kigozi, as “very loving and direct”.

“She is very assertive especially when it comes to work,” says Navio.

Navio says his love for hip hop music was planted early, possibly at age three, after watching a Michael Jackson video. He recorded his first song at 13 years.

His first commercial song ‘Engalo’ in 2008 was a shock as it had mixes of a rock guitar. The song received massive listenership resulting in his first hip hop concert for ‘Half a legend’ album in 2009. This according to Navio remains the biggest concert for Hip Hop in Uganda with over 12,000 people. He later did the ‘Nawuliranga’ concert and ‘chosen’ which he launched in Kenya having attracted too many fans there. Navio has held four concerts rhyming with the four albums.

He rates Uganda’s music industry as having the best musicians in terms of live performances. This is witnessed in the energetic performances that Ugandan musicians stage.

“The video standards have improved and its only online that is taking us back because internet is still very expensive in Uganda as compared to elsewhere,” says Navio.

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