Douglas Munyendo aka Lal Daggy a Deaf Rap artist/musician, an artist with passion, dreams, and a certain kind of fire that lights up, when you get to see him and get his message. He believes that ‘In Life you never stop dreaming.’
He says he’s not a Deaf musician but a musician who happens to be Deaf.
Lal Daggy as his fans call him, was not born deaf, but became Deaf due to illness when he was five years old. As a result, his mother and father separated and his father remarried however his step mother did not accept him due to his impairment. His father who he considers to be his hero, took him to Bondo special school for the deaf.
Due to his impairment he grew up detached from his family. It was something he detested for just like any other kid, he missed staying with his family. While in school he frequently talked to his dad who was very supportive as he went through school.
As young as ten, he was already dreaming of becoming a musician but never knew how that would work out. During his primary and secondary school years at Fr. Ouderra School for the Deaf in Bondo, he was fascinated by musicians like Lil Wayne, 50 Cents; he always went to the shopping center to watch their music videos. Even though he could not hear the lyrics he would watch their moves on stage and how they did their music.His teachers discouraged him saying how could a Deaf person rap? He had never participated in any of the school’s music clubs or music festivals. Their sister school gave him a lot of inspiration and motivation to do music. They always came to their school regularly to perform and won most of the competitions.
Five years after secondary school, he came to Nairobi and enrolled at a local college for IT lessons; he did that for a year and then left for a job as a sales person for a bottled water company. He did this as he saved money so that one day his dream to record his music would come to pass. Later on he left his job as a sales person for the bottled water company and joined the car washing business with a few of his friends in Dandora. While working he saved a small amount of money and started looking for a studio to record his music. He got an opportunity at a private school in Dandora to teach the students dancing. Through this opportunity he reunited with some of his former school mates who introduced him to Sarakasi Dome in Ngara.
He appreciates Faith of Sarakasi who trained him how to train dancers and made him believe in himself and now does his best. Though with the skills he got he feels disappointed that most deaf trainees are only limited to yoga, wishing they were given more chances.
Through the contacts at Sarakasi Dome he was able to learn more about music, performance and dance. We were also taught Yoga for exercise and got opportunities to learn many things. At the church, he met two gentlemen Kizito and Jared who had a company – Signs Media Kenya Ltd. They had a dream to nature Deaf musicians and create an entertainment company for the Deaf. They took him in and shared their music and further went on to introduce him and a couple of his friends to various musicians and events happening in Nairobi.
This seemed like an opportunity to them but to their disappointment they realized it was still very challenging to launch a music career, since most of the studios they went to turned them down. For most of the music producers their questions reflected their attitudes, some of the attitudes they were asked were like, “how can you rap and you are deaf? How will we sell your music and who will buy it?” That’s when they realized that they had a negative attitude towards their disability and never at any moment looked at their possibilities.
Soon enough Signs Media Kenya ltd in collaboration with the Finish Embassy organized an event to mark the UN Day for Persons with Disabilities. They invited a Finish Deaf rapper – Sign Mark – who turned out to be a great inspiration to Lal Daggy for him to follow his dream. Seeing him perform and sharing a stage with him at Nairobi lifestyle Nakumatt made him see how he could make it as a rap artiste in Africa. He shared a lot of tips with him and the group that left them confident that things would work out for him and Signs Media. He later took his little savings of 6,000 shillings and went to Dandora and Kariobangi to look for a studio to record his music.
By this time he had written three singles – Proudly Kenyan, Make it and Born Life. The studio he found recorded his songs the audio version, though they were of very poor quality. Despite their poor quality he still performed them at various events around town. At one particular time, he went to Mombasa and was introduced to a studio called Rabbizle Half Note – they were very interested in his music but never got a chance to work with them. However in Nairobi with the support from Jaguar, he got an opportunity to re-record the track Proudly Kenyan at Wide Concepts Africa – with producer Max. Even though he tried taking it to most media houses, it never got a lot of air play.
Ever since he released the song he has had several radio and television interviews. He performed it at Churchill Live the comedy show. He thereafter had many performances where when he started his shows at Sarit Centre Westlands, Ngong race course, KICC, and at the school deaf Centre in partnership with CBM. He has also rewritten the song Born Life – and did a collaboration with Nonini. In his search for good studios and support to produce more music, he went to the youth fund and met the chairman – Bruce Odhiambo who was surprised to meet a Deaf musician.
His first question was, “How would it work, how do you take a deaf and mute guy to be a rapper?
They argued about the word mute, and he explained to him that the term was derogatory and demeaning, since they call themselves Deaf, a socio linguistically minority that identifies itself by the use of Sign Language for everyday communication. So to Bruce and all the people out there wondering what name to use – call them Deaf – it is not offensive like other stereotype labels such as mute, dumb, hearing impaired or bubu.
Later on, Bruce agreed to record his collaboration with Nonini and the story of a champion was born.
They then sat side by side with Nonini at Johari Cleff and wrote the lyrics, and later on started thinking about the beat. In about two weeks they had a song. He’s thankful to Nonini for accepting to work on this song with him; since this will change the perceptions of many producers and musicians out there and they will give a little more attention to musicians with disabilities.
Lal Daggy looks forward to doing more collaborations with other great musicians. He wants to extend his invitations to Rabbit and Octopizzo and also go beyond Kenya and work with Wiz Khalifa from the US.
Versatile photographers the best video and photo company that does creative and storytelling photos and videos with a touch of an artistic feel.It is one of the companies Lal Daggy desires to work with. The company was started by David Macharia, the best skilled photographer in the country, and is involved in projects such as weddings, corporate events, family shoots, wildlife projects aimed at saving wildlife and events.
Lal Daggy happened to have met David Macharia, the CEO of versatile photographers, who agreed to help him record some of his music.Versatile photographers is also involved in different corporate social responsibilities aiming at helping the society.
For Lal Daggy this would widen his platform and give him more fan base, when he gets the kind of quality videos that versatile photographers does.
In future he want to go to schools for the Deaf in Kenya and Youth. Where he will scout for talents in Music, Dance and Comedy. He hopes to host a final national Deaf artist’s festival in Nairobi sometime anywhere. With this he appeals to parents with Deaf children not to hide their children or deny them the opportunity to be what they want to be. With their support they can change the destiny of their children, believe in them, support them and let them excel in their chosen fields. He says,“The public out there supports our local talent, buy Kenyan music, support Kenyans, support our initiative and like our Facebook page and follow us on twitter. @KingDeafRapper, Lal Daggy-Deaf Musician page FB.”
To Lal Daggy, being deaf is not a curse but a blessing from God,