Jay Maumau-the only rapper with a message

Jay Maumau: The Only Rapper With a Message

James Masai, popularly known as Jay Maumau, is a hip-hop rapper and activist from the coastal county of Mombasa. He considers himself a political advocate who uses music as a tool for non-violent social activism. As a conscious MC, he creates awareness and imparts knowledge about the community’s current affairs.

He coined the Maumau name from the African heroes who fought for the country’s independence. James pays homage to those heroes by mentioning them in his music too as a way of preserving our political history. The Mau Mau rebellion (1952–1960), also known as the Mau Mau uprising/ revolt, or Kenya Emergency, was a war in the British Kenya Colony (1920–1963) against the British settlers.

His sociopolitical path was birthed after the 2007/08 post-election violence. This unfortunate event triggered him and he found himself expressing his pain and anger about the divided nation in his music. This was a way to preach peace and wake up our collective consciousness.

Fun Facts About Jay Maumau

  • Jay is inspired by international artists like Common, NAS, and Immortal Techniques.
  • He performed for former Chief Justice, Dr Willy Mutunga, at the launch of the 2010 Constitution.
  •  A documentary he produced, Voice of Justice, was incorporated into the Judiciary Library portal and is still available on the site.
  • His political radio podcast hosted one of the first Hip Hop platforms, Last Word Standing at the Alliance Francaise.

The conscious rapper, father of two, has a foundation, Africa Is Now. He has traveled widely under the foundation and built a comprehensive network in Europe over the years.

Jay Maumau
Jay Maumau performing in Europe/Photo Courtesy

Eventually, he settled there and spread a proud, culture-rich image of Africa through hip-hop. He shuffles back and forth to keep in touch with the motherland. For him, music is a tool to actively take part in building a community towards unity, peace, and love. 

My inspiration does not come from the industry nor look up to anyone; I read about African history and culture from great authors and thinkers, which gives me a deep understanding of myself and the world,” he says.