The Musical Mind of Meta
Metarere Tjiho, better known by his stage name Meta, is an up and coming hip hop artist making waves on the local music scene. He first stepped onto the stage in 2012 becoming regular at the popular Kapana Soul Sessions, which was his first experience with performing live and pushed him to further explore his art form.
Meta is an experimental vocalist that transcends the genre of hip hop by adding rhythm and poetry accompanied by live and electronic instruments. Taking listeners on a funky, neo-soul and afro-futuristic journey from the mind of a young man trying to find his place in the universe, his lyrics come from his personal experiences and the observations he makes of his surroundings.
We asked this Kanye West fan a few questions in anticipation of his Friday performance.
Tell us a bit about yourself; when did you realize that music was what interested you the most in life?
My name is Metarere Tjiho, but I go by the stage name of “META”. I am a 28 year old American-born, Namibian-raised singer/songwriter/rapper and entertainer. I moved back to Namibia during last year, after five years of studies in Virginia, where I studied criminal justice.
But it was during my time in the States, where I had a lot of time to myself, that my creative-mind took centre stage. From bus rides to classes or long runs in the woods, I started hearing music, but more importantly, my own voice in my head. I was then encouraged to start writing these ideas down, built a make-shift home-studio and started making songs for fun.
One of the songs I recorded was chosen in the Coors Light Search for the Coldest MC, which was a search for the best unknown hip-hop artist in America. My experience in the competition made it clear to me that music was the right choice. But to be honest, if you take away the glitz and the glamour, it’s the feeling I get deep in my being. I don’t get that feeling doing anything else. That makes it obvious to me without a shadow of doubt that I’m in the right place.
The last six months we’ve been looking at balance and cycles on MYD; how do you follow your dream, while not sacrificing on other parts of your life?
When it comes to balance, I have had to learn to prioritise and to develop the right habits. The key for me is to make the most of everyday. With me that’s waking up early, going to the gym, coming home to eat and shower, to accomplish my goals for the day and then go to bed early to get enough sleep. But even with this, there are not enough hours in the day to satisfy everything and everyone. But when it comes to my relationships with family members and friends, I like to use the weekends and any free time to catch up and just be that normal kid they all knew growing up.
Music is a difficult industry, especially in such a small market as Namibia; how do you make it work for you?
I think in this day and age it’s important to understand that with the advances in technology and the role the internet and social media plays. That no matter where you are, you are connected, on a global level.
I can record and release a song today and someone in Denmark can have it downloaded on their phone in an hour, for example. But the most important factor for me is that, even though I am based here and my music does speak to Namibians (which fills me with joy), I am not limiting myself to the Namibian market or any one market. Because the beauty about music is that it is universal. It can be shared with people all over the world. In a nutshell, myself and my music have a global appeal and reach.
What have been your carreer highs and carreer lows?
My career low was being booed on stage by six hundred people in New York. My career high will be Friday’s performance.
Who is the person or persons that have inspired you the most?
I have two major influences. The first is Michael Jackson, because he made me the entertainer I am today. I grew up mimicking his dance moves and also learning the importance of entertaining a crowd. Besides that, he was an incredible vocalist and a visionary, the likes of which come once in a couple of generations.
The second would have to be Tupac Shakur. Before him, I was not a big hip-hop fan. But when I heard his music for the first time in 1998, I heard hip-hop in a whole new way. Simple, direct and honest lyrics about issues that are still a major talking point right now in 2016. The biggest example of that is his song “Changes”, which can directly apply to the “Black Lives Matter” issue going on in America.
What is the life motto or mantra that you live by?
This motto is not mine; I actually got it from Lize Ehlers. Three simple words: “Just Show Up”. So simple, yet so effective. I have seen the difference it has had on my life. When a year ago I wouldn’t do something for some or other reason, like being tired, but now I just show up. And I have seen first-hand how that has changed and added value to my life.
Which international and which local artist would you love to work with and why?
Internationally, it would have to be Kanye West. I have always admired him for his vision, genius production and out-of-the-box thinking. This sentiment was sealed in concrete when I watched him live about three years ago.
Locally, I would love to work with Gazza. I have followed him since I was in high school (10 years ago) and I have seen the evolution. From an artist thriving in the local scene, to a business-minded individual, who wants to establish himself and his brand on an international level. I love that, because that is right up my alley, in terms of ambition and thinking.
How do you motivate yourself to keep going and not give up?
It’s simple. I chose this path after years of failure and wrong turns. So I don’t have another choice, but to succeed. And the fact that I love what I do does not hurt one bit.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I see myself traveling the world, performing at major festivals and writing acceptance speeches for awards. And hopefully, if my creative mind is still on the mission it is on now, I will be nominated for a Grammy. Besides the personal accomplishments, I will have established a music academy that will help our local artists develop their own artistry and take it worldwide.
With an eye on Friday’s show, what can we look forward to when you get on the stage?
I’m going to be presenting live hip-hop in a way that hasn’t been done before in Namibia…
Actually, I haven’t seen it done like this anywhere else, either. I almost hesitate to call it hip-hop, because it’s such a fusion. I am a blend of conscious afro-futurism, poetry and bars, rhythm, politics and the reality of the everyday Namibian.
What I’m going to present is a raw and unapologetic exploration of tribal rhythms fused with jazz and presented by an incredible collaboration of musicians. If you want something fresh and new that will get you on your feet, then come out and join us.
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