Kenyan music is back! Don’t believe me? Then check out this list of some of Kenya’s top latest tracks.
I believe the Kenyan music comeback began in 2014 with the breakthrough of beloved singing trio Elani. (Where did they go to?) They were soon followed by H_art the Band who broke into the limelight with their major hit Uliza Kiatu.
The latter, however, have continued to entertain us with their eccentric style and energized performances. Plus who can ignore their beautiful poetry and music that speaks to the heart and soul.
Since then, more ‘Kenyan’ music is being produced and released. I say ‘Kenyan’ because it sounds not like Nigerian or Ugandan or American music, but music rich with raw Nairobi flavor. The languages used are a blend of English and Swahili, and the beats feel just like home. It’s truly Kenyan.
Fortunately, 2015 has brought with it amazing local music that we are finally proud to be associated with. Allow me to give you a lowdown of the what’s new and fresh out of the Kenyan studios.
Isabella by Sauti Sol
I just had to start with these guys because first, they are the biggest artists in Kenya AND East Africa. (Who is Diamond?) And secondly, they are the pioneers of the afro-pop sound in the country. From their first single Lazizi back in 2009, they have maintained and improved this sound, providing an example for upcoming Kenyan artistes.
Now as we wait for their much-anticipated album ‘Live and Die in Afrika’, they have released yet another single from it. Isabella according to Sauti Sol’s YouTube page, is a bona fide (read genuine) ballad that talks about young love. Unlike their recent songs, this song consists of the four members singing soulfully while being accompanied by a piano only.
Isabella seems to be compensation for those who disliked their previous song Shake Ya Bam Bam. Described as ‘not their sound’ by most fans, it was more of a miss than a hit in most Kenyans’ eyes, and ears. ‘It’s too raunchy for them’, ‘that’s not Sauti Sol’, I’ve heard many people comment.
I admit that the video could have been done in a classier way. But the song to me is a masterpiece just like any of their songs. Well, maybe I say that because I’m one of the biggest fans and they can never do wrong in my eyes.
But hear me out. The main reason I like it is because of its production. It is said they sampled the beats from Brick and Lace’s Love Is Wicked and Rihanna’s Pon De Replay, thus the familiar beats. This adds flare to the dance song. A lot of artistes use samples in their songs nowadays so it is not a new thing.
I do agree that this song was way different from what Sauti Sol usually sings. They did something new just for their fans. They went out of their comfort zone and released ONE club song for us to dance to. I see nothing wrong with this, I actually commend them.
So, Sauti Sol, you can take me downtown to ‘disiko’ anytime!
Kitunguu by Kalahi
You may not know who Kalahi is or where she is from. (Yes, she is a lady.) But what you do need to know is her new song Kitunguu that is fast becoming the talk of town.
I bumped into this song from the #100daysofafricanmusic hashtag on Instagram, a campaign run by Patricia Kihoro (former TPF3 contestant) on her social media accounts. I wonder why she stopped singing, she could have been on this list too.
Anyway in this new song, the beautifully voiced songstress compares a man to an onion. Check out this entertaining lyric video to find out why. Oh, and it was produced by Sauti Sol’s guitarist @fancy_fingers, so you already know it’s a great song.
Bebi Bebi by Atemi
Okay, I’m OBSESSED with Atemi’s new jam. You’ve probably heard it on radio by now, but if you haven’t don’t worry, I got you.
Atemi is probably Kenya’s best female Afro neo-soul artist, who already has popular songs such as Someday featuring Chris Adwar, Smile and Happy. (She must be a very positive person).
Now the music diva has released another romantic song complete with a music video. Bebi Bebi is an incredible love song that you can’t help but fall in love with it from the first time you hear it. Listen to it with your loved one and trust me, you will both feel the love.
Extra points if you dedicate it to your own bebi.
Of late there’s been a new trend emerging among by Kenyan artistes. This is the making of lyric videos for songs. Well it’s not so new as it’s already a common practice in the West. But now it seems we are starting to embrace it; case studies, the first two videos above.
This is a step in the right direction as lyric videos make us anticipate the official video, while helping us learn the lyrics. So thank you guys!
So that’s it. Three Kenyan songs that are changing the music game right now. Now do you believe that Kenyan music is back?