Interrupt This Program

Muthoni Drummer Queen plays drums she's not supposed to play as a woman and raps against corruption

Muthoni Ndonga, known as Muthoni Drummer Queen, is a singer, hip hop artist and percussionist merging traditional Luo drums with rap.

'Kenyans grind, Kenyans work. We really make lemonade out here...from endless lemons'

Muthoni Ndonga, known as Muthoni Drummer Queen, is a singer, hip-hop artist and traditional drummer merging traditional Luo drums with rap. 1:58

"My music is a letter to Kenya." Muthoni Ndonga, known as Muthoni Drummer Queen, is a singer, hip hop artist and percussionist merging the traditional Luo drums with rap to create her own uniquely Kenyan sound.

While she draws on traditions, she doesn't follow all their rules. She plays drums from the Luo community that are supposed to be played by men only. "Technically I shouldn't be allowed to play these drums," she says. The drums are a crucial component of how she writes: "I hear patterns and so when I'm writing rap, the pattern is a driver."

What I like about hip hop is that you can rap about how hot your girlfriend is on one end and on the other end you can talk about real life stuff.- Muthoni Ndonga

Muthoni's music isn't usually political, but her recent song "Kenyan Message" tackles issues like government corruption and the 100 day doctors' strike which shut down public hospitals in Kenya. "I look at my society and think certain things shouldn't be happening or certain things should happen. I put that in my work. I share it with people to spark something."

For Muthoni, hip hop is an authentic way to talk about everything that happens in her life. "What I like about hip hop is that you can rap about how hot your girlfriend is on one end and on the other end you can talk about real life stuff." 

Check out more of Muthoni's story and the stories of other artists fighting corruption in this week's episode of Interrupt This Program from Nairobi, Friday October 27th at 8:30pm on CBC TV and online.

Art as political protest, as a means of survival, as an agent of change, as a display of courage and delight. Interrupt This Program explores art in cities under pressure and airs Fridays at 8:30pm. Watch episodes from Mexico City and Jakarta now.

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