Exit: Trading the pen for a mic
Windhoek – “I enrolled at the University of Namibia after I matriculated for a Bachelors Degree in Media Studies, but did not complete it as I could not juggle both school and music. Although I am very passionate about both I chose to do music, but I will return to school in two years' time, that’s a promise I made to myself,” says David Shakalepo well-known as Exit.
Exit says his music goes way back, while he was still in school. “That’s when I started feeling it in a way that I wanted to do it, that’s why I say education has to be the key in every industry you find yourself in because that way you will understand what you do better.”
TST: What inspired you?
Exit: The streets inspired me – the people’s hustle. I have listened to legends like 2-Pac and Bob Marley and the power and influence they have over people is just phenomenal. They are icons as well as role models to many and that’s truly amazing. Surprisingly, I have become that to many young Namibians. Basically, what inspired me before still inspires me to date. I say one should not lose the inspiration because without it you will lose the legacy of what you want to leave behind.
TST: What is the genre of your music?
Exit: When I first started, I used to focus on things around me like men selling kapana, hustling to survive. But now, I do music in every genre. I sing what I feel at the moment and time, as I don’t limit myself. However, my fans call my music kwaito, but I call myself a jack of all trades. I look at what the fans want to hear and give them exactly that.
TST: How many albums have you released?
Exit: Five studio albums namely: “Industry 911”, “Coup’ D’ tat” (I featured Mushe in both), “Alpha and Omega”, “Am Rockaz” and “Judgment Day”, which I all did solo.
The idea behind “Judgment Day”, which is my current album, is to give my fans and the country at large a platform to judge me because I feel I am the most underrated artiste in the country at times. At the end of the day, I look at the reality – which is that the fan base is bigger and I judge this by the way they go on on my cyberspace, their attendance at my functions and the pace at which my CDs sell out. I am going to release an album in July, titled “Go Hard or Go Home”.
TST: How is your experience with the Namibia Annual Music Awards?
Exit: It’s funny that I took part in all the Awards since the very first Awards but I have never won anything, they (judges) just don’t recognize my work, but there will be a bigger celebration and I will have better days. I have won four awards in the albums I have featured Mushe; I have written all songs on my albums. I was recently awarded as the Most Disciplined Artist at the NAMAs and I must say I am privileged because they don’t really know how I behave.
TST: How is your music doing abroad?
Exit: It’s doing fine, I get responses from Namibians schooling abroad. People from South Africa, Malawi and Botswana enjoy my music very much. My song titled “Go to Malawi” is very big there and the idea behind it was very small but the song came out very big. I also have a music video “Molokasi”, which plays on Chanel O to date. I am actually inspired by Donald Trump’s saying, “Think small and things just go big.”
TST: Why did you and Mushe split?
Exit: We were solo artistes from the very start, but we clicked so well and we knew we could achieve too much together. Only reason we split was because being in a duo has its ups and downs and it was also about realising our dreams.
TST: Can one solely survive on music in Namibia?
Exit: I have survived from it since I was 18 years old. You need to have business ethics, you need to know when to spend and when to save and one should not do music for fun because it’s more of a career. One should not want to do music alongside other things like studying or working because you surely won’t cope. You need to give music your all and you have to know how to market yourself exclusively, by this I mean don’t have the same marketing strategy as everyone else, you have to be unique.
TST: Way forward?
Exit: I have a two-year plan before I go back to school, which I call go big or go home, and it inspires a lot of things in my life. I am busy building a music empire called Rockaz Entertainment. We have signed two great young musicians Tuko, Koxa and Neslo.
The greatest thing about this is that it is our household names and with this empire we are going to be releasing three albums yearly.