What you need to know:
- There’s a lot of work to be done by artists, especially independent ones.
- Not only do I have to produce the art, I also must ensure that the product reaches the intended audience.
- This requires identifying and contacting blogs, websites, journalists, influencers, DJs, and event organisers to ensure my songs get to a wider audience.
Lucian Basil Ouma, better known as LB, is a hip-hop artist, song writer and video director. At 25, he has just completed his Master’s degree in economic development at UCT. His music journey began six years ago when he was in first year at the Nelson Mandela University in South Africa.
1. What made you get into music? It's quite a diversion from economic development.
That’s an interesting question. I guess I have always had a passion for music. Growing up, I used to watch The Beat, a music show that played both local and international music. This exposed me to artists such as the late E-Sir, Nameless, Octopizzo as well as international acts such as 50 Cent and Lil Wayne. These artists really inspired me to try my hand in music and I started writing songs when I was about 11 years old together with my childhood friend and fellow artist, Dazz. After a short hiatus in high school, I began taking music seriously again when I left to pursue my undergraduate degree, recording my first ever song in 2015. On the other hand, economics was one of my favourite subjects in high school. I felt like it was one of the subjects that provided me with a greater understanding of the world and the systems that govern our everyday life.
2. It is quite a feat to get your music played on national radio. What has the feedback been like about your single, Roll One?
Thanks. The feedback has been amazing. I did not expect that kind of recognition. Roll One was my first song to be featured on Spotify, receiving over 700 plays in the first week and to date it has over 1,500 plays on all streaming platforms.
A fan tagged me on a tweet by Matthew Wakhungu aka Taio Tripper, asking for new music submissions to play on Homeboyz. I sent the song, together with a bunch of others and to my surprise, I received a response the next day from Taio telling me they really like my work and that they would add it onto their playlists. A few weeks later I was at home when I randomly decided to tune in to Homeboyz. That’s when I heard Roll One play on air for the first time. I was thrilled to hear the song on radio, and I felt like the hard work and sacrifices I made were starting to pay off.
There’s a lot of work to be done by artists, especially independent ones. Not only do I have to produce the art, I also must ensure that the product reaches the intended audience. This requires identifying and contacting blogs, websites, journalists, influencers, DJs, and event organisers to ensure my songs get to a wider audience. This can be very demanding and requires someone with incredible persistence as sometimes messages go unanswered, and promises are unfulfilled.
3. What other music videos have you directed?
So far, I have released seven videos from my own discography, and directed all of them. I also had the chance to shoot and co-direct a video for Dazz, a Kenyan artist I regularly collaborate with, for the song Bopp Interlude.
4. What are you planning to do with your degree? Has it helped you in your music?
Having a degree allows me to be self-sufficient while I try make inroads in music. The degree affords me job opportunities which in turn generates the income which I invest on studio equipment, music videos and promotion and marketing.
The music experience is different in Kenya compared to South Africa. Being from Kenya, I find it easier to network and make connections here. On the other hand, it is harder as a foreigner to gain traction in the South African music industry. However, I noted that locally produced music in South Africa was greatly appreciated, and once established, artists can generate a reasonable income from music compared to Kenya.
5. What projects can we expect from you?
For the remainder of the year, I will be dropping singles, with the first one scheduled to come out next month. The song is called Paradise featuring Malawian artists Bennotbenjamin and Rose Frank. Furthermore, I am currently working on my first studio album which I hope to release sometime in 2022. I am also working on a joint mixtape with Mervyn Obiero which will also drop sometime next year.