Kenya’s Music Cake
Written by Issa Ramadhan on May 3, 2019
“And my time to shine is overdue,but they trynna play me”-(a caption quote that would suit Kenyan musicians with the #PlayKeMusic) swoons one of the most cultured & celebrated African songwriter, producer & singer-rapper “Blinky Bill” Sellanga on OVERTIME a track off the Greatness EP by another highly rated upcoming Sonic, musician & DJ Samuel Sichangi (who ‘wow’ed crowds at the redbull music festival in Berlin).This two acts are Kenyan but guess what *😥* you probably haven’t heard of them or their music;Perhaps this is the bigger picture of what self acclaimed and deservedly so ‘Thee OG’ Khaligraph Jones tried to paint over you when he started the #PlayKEMusic debate controversially-the best way he knows how(Killer Music Too King).
But who really has the say on this cake,that somewhat has harder split decisions not on who gets the bigger portion but SADLY who actually wants it at all & who’s fault is it that the latter happens….now lets break it down….
Khaligraph Jones sparked online amd media debate after calling out radio personalities for allowing major airplay to Tanzanian & Nigerian artist and not pushing growth of homegrown Kenyan acts.After a back and forth between the rapper local bigwig radio host Jalang’oo with hitmaker producer & artist Naiboi rallying behind Khaligraph-the trend was live and loud,The Kenyan artist needed more local content on air while Radio hosts opted to give fans good quality music that they demand for.
Kenyan Artists.They are the creatives they do the hardest part;As the debate raged on their quality of audio & video art,their content & their strategies and knowledge of the entertainment industries were largely put on blast. I as a music journalist feel we lack a sense of style,what sets as aside-Afrobeats,a genre taking over is always credited to Africa but mostly profited by the Nigerians-Bongo/Swahili Afrobeats always represented “watu wangu wa Tanzania” despite our very own Arrowbwoy & Otile Brown excelling in that same sound-GQOM & Kwaito have always belonged downsouth while its slowly creeping into Lagos street with the infectious Shaku/Zanku music…we lack a certain niche that indentifies as our own but that seems to be changing.Emergence of “Ghetto Trappin'” or new school Kapuka acts well represented by boy crew Ethic,Nellythegoon,34 Gvng and more offer a sense of freshness,young blood & ‘UNIQUENESS’ but with that also comes the general question of content with their highly sexually depicted lyrics & videos highly critisced.
Sharing bloodlines in both Kenya & Tanzania,I write this with an appreciation for TZ music and songs like Katika,Iokote & recently banned Mwanza are some of the monster hits to have dominated Kenyan airwaves in both radio & clubs but all depict sexual lyrics-Something local acts seem to be bugged about.
Jalang’o called out Kenyan artist to also up their marketing strategies to match their Nigerian and Wasafi artistes from Tanzania.While marketing mainly plays to promotion of projects released,content traction,buzz,the power of connections with your peers is too.Bigwigs like Sauti Sol & Nyashinski have been blamed to not put on new acts or support local acts in regards to features & an online push for music by our own.
One drink I hope quenches the Kenyan artists is their international presence-crossing borders & collaborating rather than to some extent bullying off other African artist airplay goes into growing your fanbase-CASE POINT Diamond Platnumz from Tanzania crept into the Nigerian scene with glorious chart toppers featuring Naija’s top acts and in South Africa through Rap Icon AKA and Kwaito royalty Mafikizolo-wait actually should have reached for the tomato paste rather than ask the neighbour for tomatoes-Sauti Sol’s album AFRIKAN SAUCE has features on all songs from different African artistes.
That said Khaligraph Jones headed glorious jam The Khali Cartel 2 shows OGs stretching their hands out greater things happen.Khali Cartel 2 a track with special appearances from Steph Kapela,Twenny Eights & Timmy Blanco(TnT),Katapila & Xtatic absolutely bodying the track by Khaligraph showed just how much talent is underrated in Kenya & how much CoSigns are important.
Drake has sparked careers for Wizkid,Giggs,Jorja Smith,Loski,21 Savage,Popcaan and more all through the power of a CoSign-a mention or s/out or acknowledgement of sth-Most of this artists are foreigners who throughDrake’s public adorement of their music end up getting new fans and buzz. I’d heard of Steph Kapela,TnT & Xtatic(Timmy Blanco & Kapela are hands down my favorite Kenyan rappers btw) but had you??YOU.
THE LISTENERS/YOU & ME.
Well,someone does the hardwork and we try see if it was worth it.Kenyans love music without a doubt-we love music not obsessed like I am but we do-So how we dont listen and promote Kenyan music is kinda majority of us being too lazy or ignorant.Majority of Kenya’s most talented artist are under the hashtag #NuNairobi all we need is a soundcloud or deezer music app good WiFi or too much data on cellular services and have a good time.Radio hits are great as far as the radio & club goes but surely music is far more than ‘Dundaing'(check the song out by King Kaka)music is art of life.
We Kenyans majorly feed off what is trending or what the world is jamming to but the world wont gives us a Timmy Blanco or a Nadia Mukami we should learn to give the world our music not risking or discrediting the Burna Boys or Harmonizes of the world but making our own ICONS.I went from only having Sauti Sol on my playlist to having Sichangi,Marushka,Taio,Timmy Blanco,Steph Kapela,Blinky Bill,Zonda,Ivory Namara,Miss Kemunto,Prod. HALF Bvked,Meka,Joseph Kiwango,Atwal producers,BNRD & more just via daily hourly soundcloud listening sessions.
Kenyans on Twitter(KOT) can shake up masses I mean the memes and savage answers we share are an identity to our generation and while we have the power to spread good music we would rather share trolling comments on music that sucks or what the artists seem to be doing.Otile’s music did rounds the most when his Vera adventures were fully on;South African hiphop boasts international stars in AKA & Nasty C two rappers who over their heads dangle the use of English rather than vernacular something they generally were critisced off but accepted and adored for right now.While we condemn the uptown rappers for being too western we forget the one thing they represent-AFRICA.
While I feel Jalangoo is one of the greatest media personalities to have graced our Radio’s and TV I felt disappointed by his statement which I feel downplayed RADIO and the power a Radio host.While most urban or township Kenyan homes contain a TV set all kenyans home have a Radio-In campuses while both might lack-Streaming services and online radios are options still .The content played on Kenyan radio is mostly foreign and even in a bid to cater for Kenyan music with the East Africa Music shows Kenyans loose airplay to the more preferred love songs & club bangers by Tanzanian counterparts.
According to radio host they ought to play what the fans demand-but its also true you dont know what you need till you actually get it,I dream of being behind the radio one day(Soon actually on kiggsradio) and mostly its cause I get to control the mood with the music I supply so definitely if you wanna give me some Fena Gitu over the trending Nandy song you can as the radio host and while the radio hosts succumbed to the Khaligraph comment of none of the radio and tv personalities from Kenya would be recongnised in Nigeria I was ashamed.I know of Slikour from South Africa,Millard Ayo from Tanzania,Charlie Sloth,Target,Tim Westwood from UK & Sway,Charlamagne,Angie Martinez,Ebro from US all because they feed the world muaic from the best from their respective countries-I hope media personalities pick this trait up.
2019 has is 4-months old and the buzz is on Kenyan Music and its Artistes are on the spotlight-pressure turns coals to diamonds or breaks you….Let the year roll and may diamonds be made.
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By issa vibe curator