…My goal in the next decade is to launch a rehabilitation center in East Africa to help those with drug and alcohol addictions. Mainly alcohol, It’s a serious problem that I have seen affect to many lives and families.
As part of my series featuring the rising stars in the music industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing SEMU. SEMU is a rising hybrid artist encompassing what was and is to come in the future of the ever evolving hip hop art-form. Born in East Africa & raised in the Americas, the self proclaimed “Bandit Don” has already appeared on North American TV and has a growing fan base that spans from Rhythm and Blues to EDM audiences. His 2018 single “Pull Up” has garnered over 1 million listeners on Soundcloud and the accompanying video won 1st place on the national Coast 2 Coast Live competition. SEMU’s new record “Strangers” produced by long time friend Beneficial is themed around vices that fuel domestic violence and features Broadway performer Shoko Tamai & artist Ancient. The video is co directed by JAZ & rising director Zackiya Roberts of Panoramic Films who has shot videos for Roc Nation artist Jim Jones & Nas’ protege Dave East. The progressive outlook of SEMU’s vision for the next chapter in music has him positioned to be a stand out artist & a novelty addition to your 2020 playlist.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Without my full awareness & looking back on it, I was being groomed to become an artist.
When my family came to New York, there would be these live weekend parties and BBQ’s of a variety of music; some African, Techno, some Reggae, some Hip-hop.
I would always be asked to dance because I invented dances as a kid on the spot- I would get a few dollars for performing.
I took that energy and did talent shows. Than I sang Seal’s record “Kiss from a Rose”. It surprised my classmates and the teacher, Ms. O’Connor! I believe nature put this in me to do; I do not feel it was of my own doing.
I often move from a different spirit that I sometimes do not understand. Music was an allure to me early on because of its candid & true emotion it brought out of people.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?
I was heading to Uganda with 1 of my brothers, Seka! I told him, “I need to get in a studio, plug me in so I can make this trip productive.”
I was going actually to meet and choose some wives.
That did not work out, so my brother linked me with my cousin Kally Wid, a phenomenal producer who works with a lot of known artists in Africa. Our first song was Nungi, and when I went back the next year we did the hit “Million Girlz”. We finished the record that day and rode around Kampala and Mukono the rest of the day.
Before I left to come back to the states, my friend Abdul picked me up, so we rented out a pool house, got some friends together & threw a pool party to shoot the video. I get back to the states and It was amazing to see that people embraced the record.
My nieces in Uganda called me freaking out that the song was premiering on NTV and B24. I am actually going back to do the video again with some friends from South America.
The song “Million Girlz” is an ode to the beauty of all woman of all cultures. It brightens my heart and showed me God is gifting me a great opportunity to inspire and do something with this life. It’s a blessing to inspire family and those that never met me. It’s beautiful.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
At the end of 2018 early 2019, I got DJ V.I.P’s attention on instagram (@semumusic).
I posted a freestyle and a video I made remixing French Montana’s “No Stylist” .
French Montana actually shot the video of his world hit “Unforgettable” with Swae Lee around the corner from where we recorded “Million Girlz” in Uganda.
DJ V.I.P was Nipsey Hussle’s DJ (Rest in Peace Nip) and is an exec over at All Money In.
So after V.I.P liked and commented on the post, I told him I got something different I want to bring to the industry. He has been supportive & is hosting my new album coming out in 2020.
I also did some acting on a new HBO series starring Mark Rufallo.
There’s a few other projects including a sitcom I’m writing and an upcoming tour that will promote a lifestyle of health and financial competency.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Meeting 50 cent was very educational. We met at an Effen Vodka event. He asked who I sounded like, which was a trick question and a lesson learned.
I had a session in NY and brushed shoulders with DJ Khaled & Scarface from Texas.
Meeting Kanye West, DJ Red Alert, and performing for Grand Master flash was great. The experience of meeting these pioneers, that I studied and then
getting to talk with them was a transfer of energy and insightful to what is to come in my career.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
Idi Amin is one; he took his position in Uganda by force & is of great influence. I’m known as the Bandit and am here to take my position in this industry. Though Idi is a polarizing figure who created a divide with my Indian family, it is never an easy task when you are out to be of great influence and change the world. Your story will be painted with different colors depending who has the canvas.
Mr. Michael Jackson is an example of reinvention, innovation and great compassion.
And lastly the one they call Jesus. Jesus was a polarizing figure as well. I loved how he embraced the prostitutes, the sick, the outcasts and stood up against great odds.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have a business partner in Uganda, launching businesses in different sectors; including telecommunication, agriculture, and real estate.
I have a podcast I am growing named B.I.B.L.E on my SEMU Youtube channel, which stands for Bandit Insight Beyond Living Earthly. It’s a platform that helps me connect to fans & anyone looking to overcome struggles, addictions, and troubles of everyday life.
I also am a licensed cardiology tech and have helped many people with heart conditions.
Lastly, my goal in the next decade is to launch a rehabilitation center in East Africa to help those with drug and alcohol addictions. Mainly alcohol, It’s a serious problem that I have seen affect to many lives and families.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
There is a great calling on my life to connect those of all walks.
I had an epiphany and was brought a symbol 2 years ago. It's the “U”.
I invented this hand symbol. It is important for future generations to come to terms that we are of a stronger bond together.
It is a small gesture that will be of great influence & a symbol I am grateful to leave with the world once I transition and am gone.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
- Keeping in mind all events, good or bad are for your better self; for your future refined self.
- Watch the words that come out of your mouth.
- Lastly be aware of the content that you as a supervisor of your thoughts let enter your mind.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1) Do not let anyone rush you
2) Do not go against nature
3) Pray & sleep on any decision
4) Ask a woman
5) Be particular with who you congregate and share your energy with.
We are blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this, especially if we tag them :-)
I would love love love to do breakfast with Queen Latifah!
Have tea with Sylvester Stallone; I would be hard pressed to find someone who watched the Rocky movies more than me!
& do lunch with Akon. Those 3 are such great influences on my life.
They continue to inspire me to this day.
That would be a magical day.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Catch me on instagram @semumusic , subscribe to SEMU on youtube,