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N.elo breaks barriers


…Meet Lesotho’s female hip-hip DJ

Chris Theko

Kananelo Malea is breaking the barriers of the male-dominated deejaying fraternity and is slowly nurturing into superstar female hip-hop DJ.

The rising star whose stage name is N.elo is one of the few females to take on the hip-hop decks in a field that has always been male dominated. 

Born and bred in Motimposo, Maseru some 21 years ago, N.elo defied the social odds of a hometown infamous for crime and gangs and anything but hip-hop to pursue her dream and standing out.

Currently studying public relations at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, N.elo describes herself as a very energetic, fashionable and eccentric young woman.

“I grew up around people who loved and listened to hip hop, it has always been a consistent and dominating factor in my life. It was a genre that spoke to me in every kind of way, not just musically but fashion as well as the trends,” N.elo said.

She said for her to get interested in becoming a DJ, she got fascinated by a close family friend and DJ, Mura. 

“He is also my mentor, so he invited me to his birthday bash and I can pretty much say that seeing him play on the decks gave me an urge to do more in the industry. I’d see him do his thing and would always wonder what’s stopping me from doing it. At the time it would come as a thought, but as time went on I started watching videos of DJ Do Up and decided that if other girls can do it then I can do it too,” she said.

She then went on got her first gig to play at DJ Mura’s birthday bash in December last year. The young DJ has also been inspired by South African female DJs among them Ms Cosmo and Ayanda MVP.

Now that she is in the trade, she wants to open doors for fellow females who want to venture into the trade.

“I want to mark an era of the rise of more female DJs in Lesotho. I want to let people know that not only men can become Djs more so hip-hop Djs. As young people we are visionaries. The future is ours, so we must embrace it,” she said.

N.elo said DJing should be respected as an art form while the practitioners must ensure that they put their country on the map. She said in the long run she wants to start producing beats that she can get artists to jump on. 

“I feel like I want to partake in both Club DJing and a producing Dj,” she said.

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