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Rapper Rina back in the rap arena

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She is arguably the most respected femcee in Malawi and an artist who commands respect from both male and female peers in the urban music industry. However, it has been two years since Rina (real name Upile Malenga) released a record.


A massive Beatbox Music Entertainment exodus saw her leave the long-time affiliate before helping producer Manje set up Uhura Verified Management Group. MBC Online recently caught up with the ‘Ndikuzi Fila Fila’ star on a Q&A tip to get the 411 on her current status quo.


Q: You've been busy with Uhura Verified's inception, but what's up with Rina the artist? Is your music career indefinitely on hold?

Rina: Yes indeed I have been busy with Uhura Verified among other things, but Rina the artist is still there. I’ve been recording, trying to figure out how I'd like to be portrayed in the industry, working on my own unique sound and all. But my career is still a priority and I’m due to release a single this year.


Q: Zizayenda was your last solo record and that was a couple of years ago. Why the hiatus?

Rina: Yes it was, that was March 2013. After I released Zizayenda, i was offered a record deal that would’ve required me to relocate to Zimbabwe. I was in the process of doing that but the deal didn't go as I wanted. The company failed to hold up their end of the bargain after six months of serving as my management. This really disappointed me as I felt betrayed since I'd held up my end of the bargain and did more for their company than they did for me. I stopped recording after that and didn't want anything to do with music until I was invited by the Moving Africa Project to the Shoko Festival in September 2013 and that inspired me to try again. I didn't find myself immediately, like a wound I took time to heal and learnt to love music again, so that's why it's taken a while. Aside from that, industry observation, strategies and finding my identity are the things that have made me sit back.



Q: What triggered your love of music to be rekindled? Experience, competition or is it the current state of the local urban music industry?

Rina: Music is just something you can never let go of. I was still enjoying music at the time all that was happening, but I just couldn't create music. I didn't come back for anyone like competition or the industry. I did so because I saw what people were doing out there with music and it was inspiring. Aside from that, the feeling I get when I write, perform and record music is irreplaceable.


Q: During that absence, there were calls from certain quarters for you to come back and "reclaim your crown" as the country's foremost female rapper. What was your reaction to such calls?

Rina: I recently did an interview with 265 Vibe on that. I would say that it's motivating. I’ve always received positive vibes from people that follow my music and I appreciate the fact that they feel I’m a necessary artist.


Q: You've indicated that you're dropping new music this year. How soon should fans expect the new single plus who are you working with?

Rina: Yes indeed I am dropping new music this year. I can't really say a day but 2015 will definitely bring something new for me. I'll be working with my main producer Manje and we’re currently working on figuring out who else we want to work with.


Q: People know you can rap and sing effortlessly. What should they expect from the new sound you're developing?

Rina: What they can expect is a true representation of me as an artist. I honestly feel that most of the time I was trying hard to 'fit in' but now I’m just doing me. I can honestly say I have found myself and I’m happy with the sound Manje and I have created.



Q: You're now also getting to manage fellow artists through Uhura Verified Management Group. How can you describe the new challenge?

Rina: It's not really a new challenge per se. Now I have the opportunity to do what I could not with Beatbox (Music Entertainment). However, I’d say juggling between my artistry and my business side is the challenge in this situation. It's hard to play two roles.


Q: This somehow feels like Rina reloaded. In one word, how would you sum up Rina 2.0?

Rina: (Laughs) I like the sound of that. Rina reloaded. If I were to sum up this version of me in one word, it would be ‘untamable’.


Q: We always ask the mechanical questions about artists, forgetting they are human. On a lighter note, how do you recreate? Does a “free time” exist in your vocabulary?”

Rina: Yes, I think people do forget that artists are human. I’d say a free time does exist in my vocab. I try to take time off whenever I can. I have a part time job and my own personal business that keeps me busy from 8 to 5pm Monday to Friday, and I spend my weekends recording adverts and music. Sometimes, if need be, I go to the office, so yes free time is needed. I need to go to the lake (laughs).


Q: If Rina wasn't an artist, media liaison and all that she is, what would she have been?

Rina: If I wasn't an artist, I most likely would've still been involved in the arts. I'd probably be doing events and working with festivals. Aside from that, I’m a creative person. I work as a PR and creative director. Aside from, that my business is one where I work on branding stores, news ads etc. So I would've been the same person, doing the same things aside from music.

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