Ugandan rapper “Fresh Kid” has racked up hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube, won a U.S. music award and emerged victorious from a tussle with the government – all before his eighth birthday.
The rapper, real name Patrick Ssenyonjo, has become a household name in Uganda.
Fresh Kid discovered his talent while growing up in Luwero, a coffee-growing area 60 km (37 miles) north of the capital Kampala.
“He could listen to a song on radio and immediately memorise it and start singing it,” said his father, Paul Mutabaazi, 40, an illiterate manicurist.
One day a singer he idolized held a show near their home. Fresh Kid asked to perform as a warm-up act, earning 500,000 shillings ($136) for his efforts – a month’s salary for a teacher in Uganda.
Mutabaazi approached a talent spotter who started booking performances and producing his songs.
Ironically, the boy’s career really took off when Uganda’s minister for children’s affairs sought to bar him last year from singing under laws prohibiting child labour.
Fresh Kid then wrote “Bambi”, his plea to be allowed to sing. It became ubiquitous on the radio and in bars, and won the Best International Video from the U.S.-based Carolina Music Video Awards.
“Don’t send me back to the village where there’s no help, I remember a time when money was scarce, Getting fees and food was so difficult,” he sings in his hit single “Bambi”, which means “Please” in the Luganda language and has had more than 200,000 YouTube views.
“Children should work hard. If you have a talent, use it,” Fresh Kid told Reuters.
Eventually his parents, his manager and the government struck a deal.
Fresh Kid now lives in Kampala with his family in an apartment he bought and he attends an elite school on a full bursary. His father has opened a beauty salon in Kampala.