With a fresh mix of Kiswahili and English vocals and a blend of Hip Hop[e] beats and Reggae-conscious lyrics, GWAII’s sound is as eclectic as his personality. His upbringing in various parts of East Africa has influenced his music as well as his personal outlook on life. The name GWAII, an acronym for “God With All I and I”, stems from his deep spiritual beliefs and faith in God.
He grew up listening to Gospel, Soul, Hip Hop, Bongoflava, Reggae and Jazz music and credits Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur among his main musical inspirations. At age 18, after graduating from high school in Dar Es Salaam, GWAII moved to Malawi with his parents. With little access to his old classmates and having to adjust to a new social environment, GWAII spent many days alone in Malawi. It was during this time in solitude where he became heavily involved in martial arts and music. As he reflected on his days in boarding school in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya, he began writing down his thoughts and developing them into lyrics.
In his first song, “Bling Bling Shwaide,” GWAII reminisces about his youth and a connection he shared with a group of friends in Tanzania who called themselves “One Brain Squade.” The title “bling bling” references hand-made African jewelry made from beads and wood, unlike the American Hip Hop use of the term describing diamonds. Several months later, GWAII relocated once again to Zambia, where he met a local producer and recorded the music and lyrics for “Bling Bling Shwaide.”
It was at the studio in Zambia where he learned how to create music bars and nurtured his song writing skills. His next move would come in 2004 on a student visa to the United States. While enrolled in a Michigan college, GWAII studied philosophy and was a member of the soccer team. However, as he continued to write music between classes, his passion for his cause grew even stronger. He left the college after just one year and immersed himself in his music by networking with local producers in Detroit and Chicago.
GWAII released his self-titled EP in March 2010. The album features four original songs and two bonus tracks. He describes his music as “energetic, positive, and conscious” and doesn’t shy aware from unpopular topics such as crime, government “poli-tricks,” spiritual redemption, respect for women, his love for music, and appreciation for his family. At the forefront of nearly all of his songs, GWAII pays homage and celebrates African culture and history such as the case on the anthem “Afrikan Man,” which references leaders of black consciousness and thought such as Nelson Mandela, Frederick Douglas, Kwame Nkrumah, Steve Biko, Haile Selassie and Marcus Garvey. His passion for Black African History has been able to flourish as a frequent music and culture workshop presenter to youth and families at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
A true artist and never one to turn down opportunities to display his talent, GWAII has also been featured in several independent movie projects including the award-winning short film The Divine Macchiato, Pasipo, and Baby Powder/Jake Productions, along with several commercials and music videos. Fans are keeping their fingers crossed in expectation of seeing GWAII as an extra on the silver screen in the film REEL STEEL, starring Hugh Jackman due for release in summer 2011.The movie was filmed in Detroit.
GWAII performing “Afrikan Man” at Wayne State University:
GWAII performing “Bling Bling Shwaide” the acoustic version with a live band. featuring a detroit artist, Agile :
GWAII performing “Kaza Kamua” with a detroit artist, Kodac :
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