INTERVIEW: Muranji speaks on growth, goals and exploring new sounds
Updated: Jan 18
Sharing his soulful and captivating music from Perth, Muranji is certainly making his own lane into the Australian R&B and rap music industry. In addition to being an immensely talented and insightful rapper and songwriter, Muranji is warm and down to earth. He opens up to me about his journey to Australia and then subsequently into music, revealing the obstacles he has faced and overcome along the way.
“I’m from Tanzania, grew up there and came here in 2015 to study,” he says. “The name Muranji is my middle name, my tribal name. It was easy for me to choose a stage name.” After completing a bridging course in Kenya, Muranji was eligible to move to Perth to study a degree in marketing. Although he wasn’t involved in music at the time, he accidentally met fellow musician Mula who encouraged him to give making music a try.
“At the ECU campus in Mount Lawley, he saw me with earphones in and was like ‘Are you a rapper?’. I said ‘nah’, but fast forward to a year after that, we’re still friends and he’s making grunge music and playing guitar, so I learnt a lot about Nirvana and a versatile range of other artists I had never heard back home.”
Muranji spent most of 2016 writing spoken word poetry before moving on to experiment with making music, attending studio sessions, and having a play with rapping.
“This one night, I was with a group of boys listening to some track and they were like ‘We will never be as good as them’. That was my starting point. That was when I decided to try prove them wrong.” He found that as time passed and he was continuously fighting to prove himself, he was really falling in love with making music.
“That was when the main motive changed from trying to prove myself to simply being able to create something I can leave behind. Making music for me has begun moving away from being a hobby to being pivotal, I would say.”
Muranji released his debut EP ‘halfway’, in July last year, but despite this project receiving efficacious feedback from his listeners, he’s persistent to pinpoint the specific style of music he wants to create before wholeheartedly attempting to establish himself in the music industry. He released ‘halfway’ with hesitation and uncertainty about whether the six songs fit the genre of music he yearns to create.
“I need to understand what type of music I want to create; I’m still exploring,” Muranji says. “So, I can’t even explain to a producer what I want, you know? I would just tell them ‘Any vibe goes.’” The primary obstacle Muranji is currently faced with in his musical career is his struggle with settling for nothing less than perfection. He describes ‘halfway’ as something he was still not completely satisfied with.
“I think if it was my choice, I’d still have it [unreleased],” he admits. “It’s good that it was released, so with that I realised I shouldn’t really care. I needed to release my music. I needed to realise I’m not a top sound engineer, I graduated from YouTube tutorials.”
Despite Muranji’s eagerness to uncover exactly what sound and style he wants to commit to, ‘halfway’ conveys his undeniable talent as a lyricist and his versatility of sound within the genres of rap and contemporary R&B. The story within each song of his EP varies, but they all explore the shared themes of self-discovery and deciding what kind of person he aspires to be, singing “I’m just trying to be a better me” (from the track ‘NO MO’) and “I ain’t trying to fake it” (‘PEACE OF MIND’). In his lyrics, he also touches upon the obstacles he has faced in his music creation and his personal life, saying “I’m just trying to write about these beasts I’m battling” (from the track ‘WILD BEAST’).
“It’s really about putting in the work. The talent isn’t what’s going to help you to get where you want to be,” Muranji says. “Moral support is important. Having a team around so you can vibe off each other and feel motivated to keep going.”
In 2020, Muranji dropped the single ‘Immaculate’ with fellow Perth rapper YBR. The hype, high energy song laced with strong 808s and lyrical nous demonstrated the musical ability and potential of both artists.
“We recorded Immaculate out the back of the RoyAl’s [Chicken and Burgers] in Northbridge after a double shift, our fourth one in a row actually,” Muranji explained. “So, to put that energy in the song like that, it was spontaneous, and it was what started the whole belief of ‘[Making music] is possible, bro'. We can do it anywhere and it doesn’t have to be an insanely good quality mix.’”
Muranji’s goal for 2022 is to put as much work into his music as he can, striving to release quality tracks without overthinking his desire for perfection.
“My objective for 2022 is to drop 20 songs,” he says. “That will be five singles and a project.”
Muranji explains that working full time makes it difficult for him to make time for his music, but the new year brings him hope to achieve the goals he sets for the next step in his career.
“Growing a team is the objective, but I’d rather work with a team of individuals. Artists individually working on their own thing but growing with Muranji.”
Listeners, new and old, of the bright, up-and-coming Perth artist should be filled with excitement as they ready themselves for what Muranji is set to deliver for us in 2022.
Words by Liv Declerck