At age 9 Limbani Kalilani asserted he would be his own boss. At 14 he predicted two things; that he would own his own company and be a rap music sensation before he was 21. Both came true; Phone Yanu (Pvt) Ltd, one of the most successful companies and competitive wireless mobile public payphone company in Malawi is his brainchild, he is also the co-founder and Vice Chairman of a newly formed mobile company called G-mobile, he is also president of Black Rhyno Entertainment Malawi’s biggest events and management company and Tay Grin the hip-hop artist is his alter ego.
Tay Grins music targets the youth urging them to take pride in their nation and culture. To take responsibility, utilize their God given talents and find value in contributing to a positive and brighter future. Whilst emphasizing the need to eradicate negativity and low self-esteem.
Each step, each decision, each enterprise must be a positive one and one that will enable and empower at least one other person. In the words of legendary “edutainment” guru KRS-One “each one must teach one” Entertainment merged with education is a medium for speaking to the youth in a language they are most comfortable with, without feeling preached to or lectured at.
The first rap artist to make an impression on Tay was Jay-z. Impressed by the history and acuity of hip-hop in poetic diction, musicality, message and its influence on the world over the last 30 years, Tay knew he had found the appropriate medium for self-expression and influence. Honing his rap skills since his teens, Tay has been influenced by legendary rappers like Jay-z, KRS 1, B.I.G and Tupac. To find his individual and distinctive rap voice however, Tay looked inwards at his African soul and found that the roots of his African heritage and Malawian culture gave him his true and unique style that complemented the original American hip-hop template.
A chance meeting with Onree Gill, Alicia Keys manager, in 2005 on a Chicago-Atlanta flight confirmed that he had a hip-hop destiny. This was further emphasized in a brief meet with Craig a multi- platinum producer for the likes of Kanye West in Chicago at the Hinge Studios. On return to Malawi, Tay poured his energy into his first ever track and scored a number-one hit with ‘Break-Out’. The track was an underground and club hit, gearing the public up in expectation of an album. But not one to take things lightly, Tay spent the next 18 months in the lab creating a unique sound; a fusion of cultural music and hip hop. The highly anticipated debut album ‘Proudly African’ was launched on May 3, 2008 at the Ethel Mutharika Memorial Music Festival.
A ‘Proudly African’ features 12 tracks (incl. the hit singles Nyau music Featuring MTV AWARD winning artist Nameless from Kenya, 2 by 2, Kaliche featuring Kmillian of Zambia and Stand Up. The album was engineered & mastered by internationally recognized premier producer Tapuwa Bandawe.
Tay’s first single ‘Stand Up’ a wholly Malawian produced song and video, first aired on Channel O in March 2007 and has not stopped playing since. Tay’s conscious and positive music is popular both in Malawi and abroad. He has already gained respect and recognition as clearly evidenced by his Channel O Spirit of Africa nominations for ‘Stand Up’. Tay Grin’s Channel O music award nominations make him the first Malawian Musician to ever receive nominations for the Channel O Spirit of Africa Music awards. The Channel O Music award nominations are as follows:
In the year 2007
The music video for” stand up” received the following nominations:
• Best male
• Best Southern African Video
• Best hip hop Video
In the year 2008
The music video for “2by2” received the following nomination:
• Best Southern African Video
In the year 2009
The music video for” Moto” received the following nominations:
• Best Southern African video
• Best Male
The music video for “my type of guy” featuring Gal level (Namibia) and Buffalo Souljah (Zimbabwe) received the following nominations”
• Best Duo or Group (This video won the award)
This award makes Tay Grin the first and only Malawian artist to win an international music award.
Tay has performed at several high profile events including the New State house (2007) and twice on the hit show Big Brother Africa (2007/2008). Tay became the 1st and only Malawian to perform live for over a million viewers across Africa on this show. Due to his outstanding work over the past few years Tay was selected to represent the SADC Region on a live Channel O show for Africa Day on May 23, 2008. Furthermore, Tay Grin was chosen as the Coca-cola brand ambassador for a promotion campaign in Malawi in 2008.
Still in the year 2008, Tay Grin was selected as one of the few African musicians to re- record a song titled ‘young gifted and black’ originally composed by Nina Simone, which is currently used as channel O theme song. The song included legendary musicians such as Hugh Masekela and Yvonne Chaka Chaka. Tay Grin was chosen by UNICEF to be the face of their malaria campaign in Malawi. At the end of 2009 the British council asked Tay Grin, as one of Malawi’s well-known public figure, to speak on climate change to the youth of Malawi.
Tay is also a UN Women’s HeforShe campaigner.
Tay Grin is currently Malawi’s leading artist and has recorded a hit song with Jamaica’s global superstars Brick N Lace titled “Bad to de bone” (remix), Sway from the UK and MTV and Channel O award winning African artists such as:
Double HP (South Africa)
Lira (South Africa)
Buffalo Souljah (Zimbabwe)
Gal level (Namibia)
And other artist such as:
Slap Dee (Zambia)
And various Malawian artists.