Interview: Meet Azawi, Uganda's Rising Star

We chat with Azawi about her breakout single and not wanting to be boxed in by genres.

"Quinamino," the track that catapulted Azawi to fame, was written in 40 minutes at a studio in Kampala, Uganda. She had written the love song not as a musician but as a songwriter intending to sell it to another artist.

"I wanted to sing good vibes because that is what sells," she says. "I was looking at it from a business perspective." Swangz Avenue, the Ugandan based record label she planned to sell it to had other ideas; they wanted to sign her as an artist.

"A few people that work at Swangz Avenue told me that [the CEO] played the track I don't know how many, like a couple of times, he loved the track," she says. "And that moment after sending him the song, I remember he told me, 'Do you have other tracks that you can send to us?'"

Today, "Quinamino" has gained over 1.2 million combined views on Youtube and is part of an EP which has received nearly 500,000 organic streams on Apple Music and Spotify.

I meet Azawi in her Kampala home. When she walks into her living room, where I have been waiting for almost an hour, she is in the company of friends, clutching a cup of ice cream, and wearing the biggest smile. She is barely in the room when she starts to apologize for being late and when I reach out for a handshake, she embraces me instead.

Later, she says to me, "Being an artist has to start from character. How do you treat yourself? How do you treat the people you work with? I want to be the artist that respects people." But first, she goes to change into another shirt, very colorful and nothing like the black she had come in with. Her dreadlocks are tied in a bun, she sits by me on the couch and says she is ready, when in fact the truth is the 26-year-old has been ready her whole life.

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