“To say something is impossible is to fear. I have no space for the word impossible. I don’t tolerate it. Sometimes it gets me in trouble, but whatever it is, I will face it.”
STL, aka Stella Mwangi, was at her lowest in 2010. There was zero money coming in and her dreams almost meant nothing because the only thing they seemed to do at that point was drain her.
With the broke-ness came the questions; is she doing the right thing? Is the music really her future? Should she shove aside the lyrics and hip hop that have kept her blood flowing since she was a young girl? Should she?
“It was crazy. I was trying to make things work in Norway, and at the same time I was trying to get my music out in Kenya. That requires a lot of money, traveling to and fro. There were so many things that needed to be done, had to be done…”
When your dreams seem to collide with reality, the questions can rob you of your confidence, but STL who slowly wants to influence the use of her full name more, would not back down. And her tenacity paid off.
“When I called my mom to tell her that I had been picked to represent Norway at Eurovision, you’d think it was her who had won the competition! She celebrated so much! She knew it hadn’t been an easy road and had even suggested at one point that I should give up music.”
But Stella’s mum knew in her heart that her daughter would drown her soul into anything she loved, and she would not come up for air until she had achieved whatever it is she wanted.
Stella Mwangi’s mind is driven; so powerfully so, it seems almost easy to get to the same point – but attitudes take a lot of courage and persistence to cultivate.
“It could not be impossible, or we would have achieved nothing. What is happening now, all this success, it is humbling,” she told Capital Lifestyle in an interview.
Stella walks through Capital Centre with a smile on her face. Her sunglasses mask whether she notices the stares, but she does not hesitate as we head towards Java. Her confidence in herself and her resolve for the future is deep rooted.
“I started rapping at a very early age. It was my sister Jackline who taught me how to rap… she introduced me to Queen Latifah, and I was like women can also rap this good!!” says Stella. And that was where it all began.
After a dry 2010, the year after seemed almost larger than life. First there was Eurovision, where she represented Norway in a European only event with the song Haba Haba. And then came videos off her latest album Kinanda, including Lookie Lookie and Hula Hoop, which is a collabo with half Congolese musician Mohombi.
Her new album was released in June 2011 and in between tours and album sales, STL is not letting the signing autographs stop her from going through her next door.
“My success now, it doesn’t stop there. I look at it like a door to a new place. You have to keep moving. So I will keep opening doors to the next level… I start work on my new album in January, 2012. In fact, I got some tracks from Uganda and I will be changing things around a little bit,” she shares.
Fans who caught on to her for her hip hop need not be disappointed because Kinanda definitely has more hip-hop than the viral Haba Haba, Lookie Lookie and Hula Hoop.
“The hardest thing to keep focused on is who you are in music. There might be something that the fans want to but you have to stay true to you and not be swayed.”
Stella means Star. And to be one you have to believe in yourself, and push yourself.
“We are our own worst enemies. We don’t make the right choices and we don’t keep at it. We can’t take things personal; cause then you involve emotions and then you get afraid that someone will hurt your feelings. Fear is the biggest enemy of any dream.”
Stella will keep on working and doing her best in 2012. She doesn’t have pets and hopes to open a chain of African-food restaurants across Europe sometime in the future.
A stellar quote from one of her songs: “The storm will pass, so get your shoes while we wait let’s dance in the rain…”