Nameless (whose real name is David Mathenge) is a popular Kenyan artiste, who was once signed to the Ogopa Deejay’s record label. He came to fame in 1999 through a star search contest on Kenya’s urban music station 98.4 Capital FM, which he won with his original song “Megarider.”
The song was about a penniless young man who is trying to seduce a woman but only has enough money for a Kenya bus ticket and not for the life she desires. He later recorded a track with a producer called Tedd Josiah and it went on to top the charts for weeks in a row. This started out his musical career.
Now, with many accolades to his name, I had a quick chat with him to know what makes him such a music legend in Africa, his fatherhood duties, his architectural skills and being the director of PRISK and this is what he had to say:
How do you manage to stay so humble and relevant in this Kenyan Music Industry?
I consider music as normal work that I’ve taken up to connect with fans. I’m really humbled by this.
How does it feel to be married to a fellow musician?
We hooked up before music. She is the girl I liked in campus in our 20s.We have lots in common, we support each other, we go through challenges together, understand and face them.
What lessons have you learnt from being a father of two beautiful daughters?
I’ve learnt that being in their lives, they need my presence for self-esteem and confidence as there is this new generation of kids. I help them believe in their talents as parenting is very instrumental. I want them to live a fulfilled life especially when it comes to relating to men in Adulthood. They really watch us and look at how we’re living. Im very careful with what I preach to them.
How were your university days at University of Nairobi?
I was in Campus for six years. I was a party guy in 1st year then I cooled down in 3rd year. I had to find a way to merge my music and student life. When I was in my final year, the song ‘Ninanoki’ was gaining popularity. That is now when I met Wahu, so I had to balance everything somehow.
How did your parents react when you said you wanted to do music?
My family was very supportive as music paid my school fees so they encouraged me to go ahead with it.
Do you still practice your architecture?
I do it in partnership with friends. I get interested in homes and hotels. I keep in touch with it and want to get back into it fully but I won’t be as active in music as I am now.
But you’ve been doing it for many years?
Ill prepare for those transitions that will come at a certain stage of my life. So ill push it for as long as I can.
How do you feel about the current Kenyan music scene?
The industry is fine. It should be in a better place as the vibrancy isn’t the same as back then. We’re off season, we’re not badly off. We’re not at the top of our league. Take it to a higher level, dig deeper, DJs need to play our hits, media needs to get our music out there. Fans need to be entertained. 60% is where we are now. We should target 90%.
What was going through your mind when you performed in Meru recently?
I was there earlier in the year and was called back due to public demand. I have a good relationship with Meru. I felt obligated to give them a good show. The fans really wanted me there. It was a nice vibe and nice energy this time round especially when Mr.Lenny came to join me onstage. It was a good line up.
Are you the brains behind the Hub Mall structure in Karen?
I have a company called Jengoz who do Audiovisual Documentation and deal with construction projects. I am not the designer or architect of the Hub.
You were a judge on a talent show sometime back with the likes of Eric Wainaina, AY, Jose Chameleone and King Kaka. How did that go?
I was actually a mentor and I liked it. It was a show where established artists mentored upcoming artists. It didn’t get good or enough viewership.
How does it feel to be the director of PRISK? What does it stand for and what are your duties?
It deals with Performance rights. We collect royalties from artists and instrumentalists. Artists get voted by members/right holders to represent them in decision making to entrust you to make decisions on their behalf. The new society is a challenge. We are five years now and I love it. We usually have board meetings with MCSK and committees take up our time.
There are times when you have been referred to as a sex symbol. How does this make you feel?
It’s all part of showbiz as it targets both males and females. I sing about love and relationship music as I try to be all round, laid back, high energy, patriotic and hustling side.
How do you handle scandals?
I manage the people I deal with. People have tried to set me up and so I’ve had to protect my family. I don’t focus on negative vibes.
Advice to the youth?
It is time to be focused, it’s time to be serious, sometimes you let go, live a responsible life. Nothing good comes easy. Live this place better than we found it. Work to your fullest and be positive.
Any last words?
Thank you my fans for supporting me for the past 18 years in the music industry. I’m here because of my fans, Thanks for keeping up with me. Keep it locked. There’s a lot more in store.