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Daniel Kigozi Jr, the artist better known as Navio is widely regarded as one of the most prolific East-African Artistes of all time. He is a talented musician who has transcended Genre, having been one of the pioneers of the Hip Hop scene in Uganda. Navio has spent nearly a decade in the industry and his growth to become a star has mirrored the growth of Hip Hop in Africa. He has performed in cities all over the world such as: Antwerp, Nairobi, London, Boston, Lagos, Bangkok, Pattaya, Kuala Lumpur, Dar es Salaam, Chicago, Johannesburg, Atlanta, Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, Berlin, Bobodiolasso, Kigali, Cotonou and Washington DC but to name a few.
Having shared the booth with hit makers Rkelly, Wyclef Jean, Kieth Sweat, Fefe Dobson, Kat Dahlia and a host of African talent, he remains humble and focused on his music and aiding his community. The issues closest to him being Refugees, Poverty and the new threat to Uganda’s way of life- human trafficking.
Navio dwells on both the Commercial and Underground Charts, this year winning a “Best Male” Act and well as “Best Album” 2016-2017 for his critically acclaimed Album “The Chosen”. His gift is to be able to blend seamlessly from an Urban sound into African Rhythms that shock and awe the most astute music listener.
As he gets ready to release his latest feature, Navio has performed in over 40 shows in the last year, whilst being a constant feature on the airwaves and releasing some incredible singles. It is easy to see how this hip-hop superstar stays above the fray and somehow finds a way to Aid his community. He has been branded as the hardest workingman in Uganda’s Music industry.
He has been involved in Unicef Refugee Campaigns, UN Maternal Health Campaigns, set up his own Wheel Chair giveaway called “Off The Ground”, thrown the biggest AIDS awareness concert with RAHU and battled Gender Based Violence (GBVs) in Rural Areas with the Organization “AHA”.
Among his many achievements Navio was the first Ugandan artist to ever be nominated for 3 Channel O Awards in the same calendar year in 2011. Making him the most nominated artist in Africa at that point. In 2012 he won Best East African Artist at the AEA (African Entertainment Awards). He was also nominated for Best East African Artist at the Channel O Awards in 2012 and the Nigerian Entertainment Awards 2013 and won the latter. In addition to being a 5 time Pearl of Africa Music (PAM) award winner including the 2011 Hip Hop Artist of the Year he has also won or been nominated for over 30 local and international awards and performed in over 20 cities worldwide. Accumulating 5 Awards just this year.
He is well known across Africa for his quality music, outstanding videos and powerful performances. Demographically, Navio’s strongest appeal is to the youth particularly from the ages of 13-35 plus. He is considered a role model and a strong peer influencer who is able to tailor messages to diverse urban and rural audiences.
Navio’s Rise to Fame: The Early Years
Right from the beginning, Navio showed a knack for musical and lyrical composition far beyond his years. At the age of 16, he formed the hip hop group, Klear Kut, with four of his closest friends: The Mith, J-Baller, Langman and Papito. Little did they know that from humble origins, it was to be the beginning of a musical journey that would take them to uncharted heights of success and popularity.
Hip hop was a much maligned “foreign import” and, despite the best efforts of Ugandan rap pioneers like MC Afrique, Prim n’ Propa and D&D Slam, had yet to find a mass audience. That all changed when Klear Kut dropped their debut album “Mind, Body and Soul” in 2001. With five explosive MC’s in fine form, radio friendly production from legendary local producers, Dawoo and Steve Jean and collaborations with numerous local R&B stars, the album was a smash generating several hit singles including “All I Wanna Know” with Julianna, “Remember” and “Let’s Get It On”.
The album had the good fortune to arrive at a time when commercial FM stations were mushrooming across the country and it received wide airplay across the country. It also marked the first time that Ugandan hip hop began to receive positive mention and award recognition across Africa.
In 2002, Klear Kut was nominated for two Kora Awards, the continent wide awards known as the “African Grammies”, for Best Single and Video for “All I Wanna Know”. On the back of their debut album success, Klear Kut were the first Ugandan group to ever appear on MTV Africa with several of their hits enjoying regular airplay and notoriety.
In 2003, the group released their second album, K2, which had a harder, less commercial edge than their first album. It enjoyed similar success however, mainly off the back of two giant hit singles “Mon Coeur ‘Murder of Crows’” featuring Rania and the remix of the crowd pleasing “Superstar” featuring Bebe Cool. They then picked up their first major awards in 2004 at the PAM Awards, Uganda’s leading music industry awards, where they walked away with Best Hip Hop Group.
At around the same time, Navio started to take his first steps towards a solo career. Having started out so young, there were still a number of steps the group members needed to take and after great early success, they made a decision to complete their education before resuming their careers. The group went in different directions: Langman went to Germany, J-Baller to the U.S, The Mith to India, Papito to Rwanda and Burundi and Navio to South Africa.
Just before he left for South Africa, Navio wrote and recorded a song that would become one of the most popular of his career. “Rukus” with Peter Miles was such a generational anthem that four years after its release, it was featured in the finale of Big Brother Africa in 2008. During his hiatus from music, he occasionally collaborated with other artists as he did with all girl group, Blu 3, on their hit song “Burn” in 2007.After several years of studying, Navio officially returned to the music scene in 2008, with a degree in communications from Monash University in South Africa and a new company, Navcorp, an entertainment company set up to manage his affairs.
Now a fully fledged solo artist, he got to work on his debut album, “Half the Legend”. Throughout 2008, he released several songs that would form the basis of the album: “Bugumu, “Salooni” featuring GNL, “Ngalo”, “Badman from Kamwokya” featuring Bobi Wine and “Respect” featuring Jua Kali. These hits brought him numerous accolades including: winning Best Hip Hop Artist at the PAM awards and nominations at Kenya’s Kisima Awards for Best Male Artist, Best Music Video and Best Hip Hop Artist.
In between working on his debut album, Navio also found time to work on a unique concept album with Klear Kut: Traditional African music fused with a hip hop sensibility. It was an idea he had been considering for years and in 2006, he had found the perfect partners in the group, Percussion Discussion. One of the finest folk music groups to ever come out of the African continent, Percussion Discussion, have performed across the globe bringing their blend of socially conscious African rhythms to an international audience. With three members of the original Klear Kut crew: Navio, Tha Mith and Papito, the two groups came together on a two year journey to form a once in a lifetime concept album: Klear Discussion. Fusing the lyrical hip hop flow of Klear Kut with the soulful African instrumentation of Percussion Discussion, the unique album received rave reviews from both hip hop fans and traditional music purists.
While preparing for his first Album“Half the Legend” Navio also received the rare honour of becoming the first artist to ever be nominated twice in the same category at the Kora Awards. Both Klear Discussion’s “Klear Discussion” and Blu 3’s “Burn” featuring Navio were nominated for best song at the Kora Awards in 2008. In May 2009, Navio launched “Half the Legend” at a star-studded concert in Kampala supported by local stars like Bobi Wine and Julianna. It was the early chapters of what would become an epic story.