- From gospel hip- hop to Nyambo
About two decades ago, Stix was a household name in urban hip hop circles as the youngest member of pioneering hip hop group Real Elements.
Initially called Linguistix, Jerome Kalirani shortened his stage name to Stix, but this did not trim the dexterity in his witty lyrical delivery.
Together with Denmark born Kimba Mutanda Andersen aka Plan B, Qabaniso Malewezi alias Q and Lewis Chikuni aka Marvel, the pioneering hip hop group revolutionised the hitherto unacknowledged genre.
In 2004, at the apex of his career and when he had three lucrative deals with top record labels in the UK and USA pending, the metamorphosis of his life took a sweeping change after he embraced Jesus Christ and decided to pursue gospel hip hop which saw him eventually dropping the name Jerome and replacing it with David.
To demonstrate his resolve in his new-fangled life, the man from Mponela and a cousin to hip hop musician Tay Grin, enrolled with The African Bible College (ABC) in Lilongwe where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies in 2012.
“For the longest time, nobody accepted that hip hop could carry gospel, but we are past that time now and after some of us started this around 2005, it is being accepted. By God’s grace and because our lives were grounded, people recognised it and even the creativity side of it grew such that we started to be heard on radios,” he told On the Arts.
According to the musician, it has a maturing process that has made him realise that there is a lot in life than he previously thought.
“The reception from my fans has been amazing even though my fans criticised me for giving up secular hip hop when I was on the brink of something big, but they didn’t realise that I had found something greater than anything anyone can offer me.
“I used to think that being famous globally and having a lot of money I would find a great fulfilment, I realised that I was chasing a dream when I should have been chasing the one who creates dreams. When I found Christ I had found in Him all I wanted before as is written in Matthew 6:33,” he testifies.
Meanwhile Kalirani has partnered with Marvel, who is also now a born again Christian and is resident in the USA, on a new project titled Lost Tapes, whose first single Imago Dei was released early this month.
Last year, Kalirani won the Rap Artists of the Year award at the African Gospel Music Award.
He, however, states that he is taking a break from gospel hip hop and has embraced a new phenomenon termed Nyambo Movement.
“Right now as the Lost Tapes project is coming out, I am distancing myself from being known as a gospel hip hop artist and I have started a new platform group called Nyambo Movement which I launched after realising that most gospel hip hop artists now are not genuine Christians or serious with Christianity.
“I want to be identified with the Nyambo Movement and will no longer be defending hip hop at all because I feel there are a lot of things going wrong in gospel hip hop now which need to be sorted out.
“Basically Imago Dei is the heart of the movement and is based on Romans 8:29,” he said.
Kalirani says he had seen that people are focusing on other things and no longer focusing on being like Jesus.
“The country has lost touch with real Christianity instead of craving or desiring to be like Him; people today come to God for what he can give them.
“This is the same with most gospel artists who are doing music for fame and money and their passion is not to be like Jesus. So, this movement is for those who want to go back to real Christianity—it’s like a bait,” stresses Kalirani.
Currently Kalirani is working as a youth pastor at Word Alive Church in Blantyre where, apart from preaching the gospel through hip hop he disciples to the youth.
Kalirani reveals that he is putting the Lost Papes Project on DVD and is planning to publish a lot of literature.
“I am putting out Lost Tapes Special Edition and Lost Tapes Season 2 and early next year I am planning a tour throughout the country and beyond. I have also written books about my new movement Nyambo and people should be on the lookout,” said Kalirani. n