MASERU — Nine-year-old Keneuoe Ntlhoki (pictured) admits to falling deeper in love with her hip-hop music and schoolwork with each passing day.
The only child to popular gospel artiste Francis Ntlhoki and wife Maphokeng, Keneuoe has already recorded her 12-track debut album, Ayoyo Kenysto, alongside two cousins and two distant relatives.
The album was released in January this year and Keneuoe is promising even more productions in the near future.
Vivacious and full of confidence, Keneuoe — a Standard Four pupil at New Millennium English Medium School in Maseru — boldly declares that one day she would be a bigger star than her father.
She told Xpress People in an interview on Tuesday that three years to the day she would be a megastar.
“I used to listen to my father rehearsing his songs and practising from the time I was just a little baby,” Keneuoe said, with a maturity that belies her tender age.
“I would listen and tell myself that one day, by the time I reach 12 years of age, I would be an even better musician and bigger star than my father.”
Keneuoe said she had wanted to be a gospel musician — just like her father — but a shift in tradition last year introduced her to hip-hop music.
“My dream has always been to follow in my father’s footsteps,” she said.
“He is my inspiration; he motivated me with his music.
“But I also started listening to hip-hop music last year and became very interested.
“I am now proudly a hip-hop artiste.
“I compose and sing my own songs.”
Yet Keneuoe said it was only a matter of time before she embarked on a journey to fulfil her original dream.
“I intend to change from hip-hop to gospel because I would want to pass the message of God to other people,” she said.
“My hip-hop music does not pass those messages.
“On my album, there is only one song titled We Believe in Jesus that has God’s message.”
The album, she said, was enjoyable for people who like dancing.
“I like dancing and, believe me, I can dance,” Keneuoe said.
“My album has some danceable songs, and is mostly for those who like dancing.”
She added that she usually listened to her own music for enjoyment.
“I would laugh and sometimes ask myself stupid questions and answer them,” she said.
“I would go like: Am I really the one who is singing? Yes, it’s me. Who else can it be if not me?”
Her favourite track on her album, she revealed, was Ayoyo Kenysto.
“I dance until I sweat whenever I play it,” she said.
Keneuoe said she always sings for her friends, much to their enjoyment.
“They say I sing well and they enjoy my music,” she said.
“This makes me happy and proud of myself.”
She said she was also proud of her parents and grateful for their support.
“They helped me with funds to record my CD and I am proud of them,” she said.
So how is she balancing her music and school commitments?
“I always have time for my schoolwork and my music,” Keneuoe said.
“I spend most of my time studying when at school and do my singing practice in my spare time and during holidays,” she said.
She claimed she was a whiz-kid at school.
“I do well at school and am always position five or better,” she said.
In addition to dreaming of becoming Lesotho’s biggest music star, Keneuoe would also want to be a schoolteacher.
And after performing at the Lesotho College of Education before a sizeable audience early this year, Keneuoe said she realised crowds made her even livelier.
Meanwhile, Keneuoe’s father told Xpress People he first realised his daughter had a singing talent when she was only seven.
“She would imitate me whenever I practised and at times she would sing for us when she returned from school,” Ntlhoki said.
He said some of the challenges his daughter faced included not being able to fully commit to her music because she was still at school.
“Sometimes she is unable to perform when events occur because she would be at school,” he said.
Thuto Moshoeshoe, one of Keneuoe’s friends, said she was happy for her schoolmate.
“I really enjoy her music,” she said.
“My friend sings beautifully.”
Thuto said Keneuoe had inspired her to consider music as a career.
She also said Keneuoe never mixed schoolwork with her pastime.
“I’m proud of Keneuoe because she never talks about her music when we are in class,” Thuto said.
“During lessons, we talk about our schoolwork and when outside classes, we talk about music.”
Keneuoe said she was a big fan of US R&B/hip-hop artiste Chris Brown.