How A 19-Year-Old Kenyan Producer Got Willow Smith On His Track

Nairobi underground producer Ukweli tells us how he got Willow Smith and JABS on his track "Get Lost."

Photo by Nu Fvnk. Edited by Ukweli.

We first came across 19-year-old producer Brendern Denousse aka Ukweli when he cold e-mailed us a bootleg ’Swahili trap’ remix of Ibeyi.

The Nairobi-based producer is a member of the East African Wave collective, who recently dropped a collaboration with Jojo Abot.

At the start of the year, “Get Lost,” a hazy Ukweli-produced track, quietly popped up on young US-based singer JABS’ soundcloud page. Built on minimalist synths and laidback beats, the song features vocals from none other than frequent JABS collaborator Willow Smith (Wilough).

“I got in touch with JABS through her soundcloud, I was a big fan of hers and Willow’s from randomly listening online,” Ukweli tells us from Nairobi.

“I made the beat to ‘Get Lost’ at about 3 in the morning one night when I couldn’t sleep and was in a melancholic mood. It’s a really spacey beat and I felt that it had enough room for a vocalist to lay something down.”

“So I got in touch with JABS and sent her the song. She said she loved it and wanted to lay something on it. Fast forward to two months later and the song was done. I was unaware that she did the song with Willow Smith, but I was happily surprised.”

Hear the wavy East African-crafted "Get Lost" above.


Interview: Wavy The Creator Is Ready to See You Now

The multidisciplinary Nigerian-American artist on tapping into all her creative outlets, creating interesting things, releasing a new single and life during quarantine.

A trip canceled, plans interrupted, projects stalled. It is six months now since Wavy the Creator has had to make a stop at an undisclosed location to go into quarantine and get away from the eye of the pandemic.

The professional recording artist, photographer, writer, fashion artist, designer, and evolving creative has been spending all of this time in a house occupied by other creatives. This situation is ideal. At least for an artist like Wavy who is always in a rapid motion of creating and bringing interesting things to life. The energy around the house is robust enough to tap from and infuse into any of her numerous creative outlets. Sometimes, they also inspire trips into new creative territories. Most recently, for Wavy, are self-taught lessons on a bass guitar.

Wavy's days in this house are not without a pattern, of course. But some of the rituals and personal rules she drew up for herself, like many of us did for internal direction, at the beginning of the pandemic have been rewritten, adjusted, and sometimes ditched altogether. Some days start early and end late. Some find her at her sewing machine fixing up thrift clothes to fit her taste, a skill she picked up to earn extra cash while in college, others find her hard at work in the studio, writing or recording music.

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