FRESH KID: Last month, seven-year-old rapper Patrick Ssenyonjo emerged out of nowhere and took the music industry by storm under the alias Fresh Kid. What this new kid brings to the industry is in the name…fresh vibes. In the short time he has been around, Fresh Kid has become the talk of town, even catching the attention of the Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi.
The minister cautioned the rapper and even threatened to arrest him for various alleged crimes, causing public uproar. Lawrence Ogwal talked to a few people about what they think of Fresh Kid and the minister’s concerns.
Phiona Munezero, Geoinformation officer, Ubos
I hear about Fresh Kid, I read about him in the papers and I think it is a great thing that he is making money at just seven years, especially in this Uganda where many people are jobless. I heard that at just a tender age, he provides for his father and mother, which is no harm. He should continue doing music but also he has to be guided by his management. The minister intervening in his career is not so good because there are many children even younger than Fresh Kid who are doing other kinds of odd jobs such as selling maize and eggs even late into the night. However, he should be at shows during the day or evening, not at night, and the language he uses also is too much.
Dauda Kavuma, Founder Triplet, Ghetto Kids
I do not have a problem with Fresh Kid singing but he should be under guidance. The minister intervened because of the fact that the boy sings in bars late in the night, the way he answers questions during media interviews and his heavy lyrics, which are not supposed to be sung by a boy of his age. Such lyrics from Fresh Kid cannot inspire fellow young ones because the lyrics are meant for old people like me. He should be singing about topics that inspire his agemates.
I have been with the Ghetto Kids for years now and they have grown. When I am supposed to perform at night, I make sure it is not a bar but rather places such as Freedom City, Cricket Oval and Kyadondo. While at the events, I make sure my group performs latest 10pm and we leave. It is what Fresh Kid should be doing because bars will create a bad image for him.
The other thing I distance myself from are events posters that are sponsored by alcohol brands. However much they are willing to pay, I tell them off because my group is made up of young members.
The minister was right to question whether Fresh Kid goes to school. If he wants to succeed in Uganda, he should stay in school and also learn English because his management should be looking beyond Uganda. I can give you an example of ManKing, one of our members who did not want to go to school but when I told him the group was going to travel abroad and we would not travel with someone who did not know English, he joined school. Today, he is in the US on a bursary and still raps.
I cannot consider taking Fresh Kid under my management because I only work with dancers. I believe his management understands him and he also understands them, but I love his dresscode because I have never seen him with sagging pants. The ministry should support young talent and also create a foundation that can nurture talent because young people do not sign agreements but rather guardianship. The minister should set up platforms such as America Has Got Talent then draft rules that will govern young performers.
George Wabweyo, PR
Rap music can be a great avenue for learning and acquiring knowledge. So even as he pursues his career, there are things he will learn through his interactions with people in studio and at performances. Values such as patience, humility, hardwork, and perseverance. It also sharpens his social skills. As far as his attitude is concerned, I believe that he has cultivated a winning attitude and that will take him far. His attitude fits the type of music he is doing.
Dimiter Kushy, Brand Manager Purple Party Events
I was among the first people to know about this boy before he even became Fresh Kid. It was while we were preparing for the Luweero Purple Party. I received a video on WhatsApp. The young boy in the video was rapping so well, so I shared the video with my boss, Douglas Lwanga and he invited him for an interview. At the time, he was with DJ Fikie, who along the way handed him to Francis Kamoga, who is now his manager and caretaker.
I think the boy is talented and blocking his career as the minister tried to, is wrong. The minister rushed to the media to say they have to take the boy for drug tests and block him from performing in bars, basing on information from people on social media.
Fresh Kid is a trendsetter and I think he is on the right truck. Many people’s concern was that he did not go to school and that he always ignored the question but after he took them to his school, the media followed him to the school, something his manager never wanted.
Daniel Angulu, Education programme officer
Fresh Kid is talented but his management should give him time to grow up normally. I support talent but at that age, I think he should be doing music as a by the way because from the look of things, music is Fresh Kid’s priority right now.
They should keep him away from nightlife because what everyone is focusing on is him being young, not him being talented. Like international young stars, I believe he should be groomed. I do not want to rub shoulders with him in night clubs or at 18+ events. About the minister tagging Fresh Kid to drugs, I think she was just being dramatic.
Stephen Don Kafeero, Journalist
I strongly support the decision by the Ministry of Gender to intervene and ask some questions of Fresh Kid’s career. The questions should, however, not stop on him but cut across. In that regard, legislators should use Fresh Kid’s star to support the ministry’s intervention as they raise questions of its failure to help other children and groups covered in its mandate. Irrespective of his unique talent, the seven-year-old is still governed by the laws of Uganda, including those specific to children and must be obeyed.
The minister’s concern in respect to Fresh Kid being abused as a child are valid. Whatever happens to his music career, he needs to be allowed to grow like any other child. He, for example, needs to play and associate with his peers and if possible progress well through school. You do not want an adult celebrity obsessed with things he should have done as a child. The late great Micheal Jackson is a perfect example.
Fresh Kid is, obviously, very talented with a rare gift that can change the fortunes of his family and make Uganda and perhaps the world proud. I am not an expert on music but as a consumer, I think he needs to focus and get out of the usual banter with other artistes. What message does his music send? What value does he add to the industry? I hope his managers are able to figure that out. I think it is fine for him to do music for as long as the music does not take precedence over other activities in his life, for example formal education and extra co-curricular activities.
The ministry of Gender, working with the parents and with their consent should subject Fresh Kid to a comprehensive medical checkup. This would allay any fears and concerns that the child has been subjected to some form of drug abuse. Also, a social worker should be dispatched to carry out an investigation at his home, studio and school to determine that he is living and treated in acceptable minimum standards.
Then a schedule should be drawn up in concert with the authorities, his parents and managers. This schedule must be enforced by authorities and strictly followed to ensure that Fresh Kid’s interests supersede any other, including the commercial returns from his talent.
Yvonne Chepsikor, Security Personnel at Civil Aviation Authority
I know Fresh Kid. He is that little ninja that raps and everyone is talking about him. The first time I learnt about him was from a video comedian Alex Muhangi posted on his Facebook timeline. His music is good but I think the content is not appropriate for his age and it is the reason I think he will fade away very fast. I totally agree with the minister’s intentions to block him from doing music because there is no way he will balance school and music.