Where words fail music speaks but when blended with comedy becomes sweetly divine. Few artists in the industry have direly and tirelessly tried to achieve this. One successful artist is the multi-talented Philip Rono.
Philip Rono, popularly known as arap Laal is undoubtedly the pioneer and the King of Kalenjin comedy, musician and producer. Born and bred in Sigor, Laitich location in 1970, arap Laal grew up in what he referred to as a challenging background.
He attended a local primary school in his village and later joined Moi Minariet for his secondary school education. Things went well until when he was in Form Two. “I had to drop out of school due to lack of school fees, a thing that greatly hit my mother who loved education,” said arap Laal. He had to stay home for one year before his mother approached his uncle, the veteran musician Joel Kimeto to bail them out. Kimeto through his golden heart and love for education paid his entire school fees up to Form Four.
In an exclusive interview with Kalenjin Media, arap Laal said that he chose to stay with his uncle as he had already developed an interest in music. He could help him with his crusade functions. It is then that he decided to produce his songs that would be produced in tapes and taken to Kisumu a thing that gave birth to his ministry.
In 1992, the popular musician decided to look for greener pastures and it is then that he went to Kericho and produced gospel songs which includes his first volume dubbed “Igoigoi Jeiso Sobondonyun”. He would attend functions in his neighbourhood and would be given a chance to perform his songs. However, his songs were not greatly received by the audience a move that prompted him to venture into the then empty industry of comedy.
Music has been generational for him and as traced, it runs in the roots of the family. He told Kalenjin Media that his grandfather, arap Kalya was a veteran secular musician who would win people’s hearts and bring everything to a standstill. Humorously, women would even forget to breastfeed their babies at the sound of his melodious and attractive voice.
“Comedy has made me a brand in the industry,” he stated. Flashback to his career, arap Laal said that he greatly ambitioned to be a greater man and that is when he chose the name “arap” which in the Kalenjin community means a renowned great figure in the society.
His love for creative arts prompted him to start a show which was then aired by KBC Kisumu. The show won the hearts of many listeners. It featured his fellow celebrated comedians arap Nyabii, Taputany and Kunga.
Asked about juggling the two heavy talents (comedy and music), the popular artist said that it has never been a challenge to him.
“First, I always have to understand my fans and what they expect from me. When it comes to music, I do release heart-touching songs that will give faith and hope not only to me but also to them,” said the celebrated musician. He urged artists to heed God’s call and understand their talents and skills.
Despite being a gospel artist, in 2007, he joined the bandwagon of musicians composing songs for politicians after releasing a song in praise of William Samoei Ruto which endorsed him as the Kalenjin Kingpin.
He said that his music cuts across all genres and this is evident as he has produced motivational songs among them ‘Soman Oo’ which talks about the importance of education and ‘Pane Kigondit’ which he released in 1995 a song that speaks against helping another and saying it to people.
His humble beginning has seen him focused on life. As an established comedian, he has mentored others, Brobox and Ndugu Yangu being the latest beneficiaries of his experience in the industry.
In 2017, he came into the limelight when he performed during Raila Odinga’s rally, a move that saw him criticized. “ I have needs to cater for and to achieve this I need money. No one should crucify me and besides who would refuse that anyway?”
The artist who boasts of over seventy thousand subscribers on YouTube told Kalenjin Media that he has a lot in store for his fans as he is planning to release more songs and comedies as well.
He, however, advises his fellow artists to go for what they are good at. “Passion, creativity and confidence is the key to success to avoid addressing the wrong audience, it is good to help, motivate and correct one another. It will not cost a thing” he added.
The fact that artists nowadays shift from gospel to secular and vice versa is also a concern to him. The strong performing arap Laal says that no matter what music brings to the table, being self-aware is also important. “Fate matters a lot and if one sings for money then disappointments will lead the way,” he stated.
Click on the link below to watch the exclusive interview KalenjinMedia.