I never really doubted myself and I want this to be motivation for other youngsters out there. You don't have to be a city person to make it. I just had a passion for television and Hip Hop. If you have enough passion you will make it no matter what, it might take time but you always make it. Besides I come from a family of survivors.

Meet Steez

By The Voice (Francistown, April 10, 2007)

Vincent Mpho Tiro, commonly known as Steez, turns out to be a very down to earth brother who knows what he is about. With no pretenses whatsoever throughout his interview with Freelance Journalist, Naledi Mokgwathi ,he chatted about his life, music and other things in general. He does not display any attitude associated with the so-called American Wanna Be's.

Q. A lot of my girlfriends begged me to ask you this question, are you involved?

Yes I am. I'm not married though but I'm also not available.

Q. Your girl is special because....

One thing about my girlfriend is that she has a good sense of humour. When we are together there is always laughter in the air and in a relationship you want to be happy. Happiness comes before all the things like money and the rest. Another great quality about my girl is that she always puts other people before herself. I guess that explains her career path, she is a student of medicine. She is also caring, loving and most importantly she is understanding, considering that I'm in the public eye and she gets strange phone calls, SMSes and all that stuff.

Q. What's the difference between Steez and Vincent?

There isn't really much difference. I look at Steez as a product that's supposed to pay my bills. Steez is more business oriented. On the other hand Vincent Mpho Tiro is just a boy well groomed by his mum back in Mahalapye. Not to blow my own horn, but I'd say that I'm down to earth, cool and people should not fear to come and chat with me anytime because I'm very friendly. I really appreciate the love I get from people on the streets especially the kids; they always say "Ahh bona, ke motho wa Coca Cola." I find it funny because they never call me by name. Vincent grew up in Mahalapye in a family of three boys- I have two young brothers, Lekoko who works in Francistown and Mompati who is now doing form 3. We were raised by a strong woman who has always been the provider of our family.

Q. Have you ever doubted that you'd make it considering that you are from a village?

I never really doubted myself and I want this to be motivation for other youngsters out there. You don't have to be a city person to make it. I just had a passion for television and Hip Hop. If you have enough passion you will make it no matter what, it might take time but you always make it. Besides I come from a family of survivors.

Q. What influenced you to come up with the album?

I was influenced by the response I got from people after they heard my jingle on Emmax's show. I should make it clear that I'm not a TV presenter cum MC. I've always been an MC. I grew up listening to Biggie and 2PAC but I was influenced by NAS. I'm not trying to be him, nor am I living in his shadow. I get inspiration from him but I do get on to be myself.

My album has 18 tracks and it took me a year and a half to come up with the album. I didn't want to rush through the album. I wanted to put out something I won't regret. The mood also had to be right. It was released on the 1st of March. The response has been fabulous. I've already launched the album in Molepolole and Mochudi and the shows were great. GC peeps should be ready because I'm going to give them a great show in two weeks time and of course I'm saving the best for last, Mahalapye.

Q. Don't you think people will feel resentful towards your music because you keep stressing on being a Mahalapye person. It's Mahalapye this and that.

I don't look at it that way. Mahalapye is where I am from, my people, my blood, my sweat and roots. I guess it's because I'm fond of that place. I love it 'cause it's a multicultural place; it has a mixture of all our ethnic group. I'd say I'm from a unique place. When I talk about Mahalapye I will not be trying to leave anyone out. I also want people from other places to be supportive but I must point out that the album has already sold more copies in Mahalapye.

Q. You were once labeled as an American wanna be but the same people now have your back. How did you win them over?

It happens in life that you are misinterpreted. Time is the healing factor. Anyway I had long been expecting that considering that I was introducing something new. Things would have been much different had been standing in front of the cameras introducing traditional songs. But eventually people realized that I'm just a Motswana boy who was mistakenly seen as someone trying hard to be an American. Its not that I was doing anything different its just that most people view Hip Hop with a negative attitude.

Q. What do you intend to do as a Hip Hop artist to change this negative attitude?

I'm going to get people to see Hip Hop for what it is. There is a lot more to Hip Hop. It's not all about the bubble gum music that we see on MTV. There is conscious Hip Hop with a lot of positive sides. What people hold are just stereotypes, typical views. Right now I'm holding an interview and I hope that it reaches someone.

Q. How do you intend to make your mark in the industry?

All I'm going to be is me, Steez is different and unique, and my style is also different from all the others. Being myself is going to make me different from someone else.

Q. You always seem to be dancing when presenting Flavour Dome. Is there any music that's being played that we the viewers don't get to hear?

Actually I'm still maintaining the rhythm of the song we used to play during the show before all the changes. I do it just to keep my mood high so that I don't start the show on a low note. If I start on a low note the whole show will go down all the way and we don't want that. My job is the hardest job ever. Imagine that you come to work with a lot of stress from home, and unlike someone in an office you can't lower your head on your desk and stress. You have to keep smiling cause you have signed a contract agreeing to entertain. When I bounce my head like that I'll be thinking, "So what if I had a bad day at home, Flavour Dome is here."

Q. How did you get discovered by BTV?

I auditioned like everybody else. I was hired during the second auditions though. On the first ones I had been on male top three, Kago came out first, then Bonnie second and then I was on third place. Chawa was the very first person to be hired, but they had to find a guy, they tried the chemistry between the three of us. Kago came out first but they realized that he was still in school. So they had to take Bonnie. The problem with me is that I couldn't pump out enough Setswana. You know the Setswana that we speak nowadays is not really straight. Chawa had already established that she will be presenting in English so they had to find someone who could pump out more Setswana. I must point out that no one called me for the second auditions. With the second auditions I knew that I was going to make it because I had perfected the mistakes I had made in the first.

Q. Why then did you decide to take a detour and follow a career in hospitality?

I'm no longer with The Braai Place. I used to work there as a shift manager to try out my leadership capability. I got to learn a lot from there, and I also got to appreciate working in a team. I used to be a head boy in junior school, so I intend to explore the idea of my leadership skills in the near future maybe in a corporate setting considering that I have a degree in Economics and Environmental Science.

Q. Any other projects that you are working on at the moment?

I'm currently working on something called "Power in the Voice" in collaboration with the British Council. My role is to be a mentor, act as a platform in young people lives in Junior and Senior Secondary schools in the Hip Hop discipline.

Q. We have just been though the Month of Youth against HIV/AIDS. Your word?

The youth should look at this month as symbolic. In fact they should look at every month as symbolic, its just that at this point in time we come out with guns blazing, a lot more is said about the disease. It all goes down to the individual- it's your own life. Try to be faithful, or try condomising and or just commit to a zero transmittance and keep the promise. Together we'll realize a big change in all that we've been working towards.

Q. Any last words?

You know they say that you are only as good as the company you keep. Since junior school I've been hanging with the same people, there is Tumelo Madala, Thuto Letlotla and Tumelo Jackson. These are people who have always been there for me. I want to tell them that I 'm grateful for what they have done for me, I do appreciate it. Especially Tumelo Madala, he has always been there for me like no other brother would. He's always there to assist me. Then there is Karabo Tlhabiwe, the producer of Flavour Dome. He helped me adjust after my move from late night TV to where I am now. I'm the presenter that I am because of him. To Batswana, my album is out, we'll finish our nationwide distribution in a week's time, but for now you can find it at Game City, and DT's stall by the main mall and all the Thebe records shops. Otherwise you can holla at me on this number 71825700 if you need a copy.

Name: Vincent Mpho Tiro

D O B: 05 September 198 something

P O B: Mahalapye, definitely my roots

F. Food: Anything that goes down good I'm not really particular

Mentor: Greg Losibe and My Moms

Motto: Gotta be best of the best, if not be amongst the best

Originally appeared in Allafrica.com

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