After talking about it last year at a time like this, who would have thought I would actually be part of Coke Studio Africa? That I’d be standing in the huge studio colored in bright red and white. To watch the different musicians from all over Africa dancing in their fancy overpriced clothes. To experience new African music, not on TV this time but LIVE.
Last Saturday, I was among the few chosen to attend the final recording of Coke Studio Africa season 4. Shot at Film Studios in Nairobi, we were to leave school at 6am. That meant I woke up at 4am. I’m sure you can do the math. (Yup, this girl takes time to get ready).
I had two hours of sleep that night, and it’s not because I was nervous. Sleep simply evaded me. But it didn’t matter much because I was about to be part of one of the most private concerts in Kenya. And have the rare chance to meet the international guest artist of the season.
I bet you think it was all glitz and glam. Well in fact, it was quite a challenging experience. For when we got there, our phones were taken away to eliminate the risk of taking photos or videos. They didn’t want us to prosper on Snapchat.
So we were left with no technology for twelve hours. No distractions to keep us occupied during the long breaks between the performances. The only entertainment we had was ourselves, and the ten minute performances. It was one long day.
It was also a day of waiting. And when we were tired of waiting, we waited some more. We were finally called in for the first performance after two hours. This was the best part. If you were among the first to enter the studio, you got a good spot on the front row. Closest to the African stars. Fortunately, these ones didn’t burn you up like the Sun. They just fascinated you.
When you entered the studio, the first thing you noticed was the lit stage. (I don’t mean lit in that way). Small round bulbs covered almost every inch of the floor and ceiling, casting lights of red, white, blue on the stage. They made different intricate patterns depending on the performance. It was truly one of the best lighting I have seen in Kenya.
We had been warned earlier there would be four performances in total. Since it was all about Trigga, the first two were covers of his songs: Heart Attack and Slow Motion. We even sang our own renditions before we got in the studio. Anything to kill the boredom.
The other two were original Coke Studio songs as is the norm for every finale. And Trey was going to be in both of them. We couldn’t help but wait.
To be honest I don’t remember all the collaborating artists. But it’s difficult to forget Vanessa Mdee from Tanzania. Or Neyma from Mozambique. They came in with their pretty faces and bright smiles. Everyone was charmed by their beauty. There was also a Ugandan songstress whom I’d never heard of. Does anyone here know of Rema Namakula?
It was also my first time to encounter Stonebwoy from Ghana. He brought a unique twist to the R&B songs with his energetic dancehall vibes. His opposite was a quiet Ethiopian rapper. I Googled him and found out he’s called Haile Roots.
Nice name Haile.
Vanessa drove the whole crowd wild. Many people noted she was more petite than they expected. Her black crop top and matching maxi skirt hang on her body like it was a size bigger. To compensate, she had long wavy blonde hair and a made up face with bronze highlighter shining off her cheeks. She resembled an African Barbie doll.
Neyma was one hot lady in person. She had long curly black hair (hers) that was pulled to one side, and short hair slicked down on the other side. You could clearly spot her clear fair skin, and a sneaky tattoo on her lower back. She was also adorned with a charming sense of humor.
Oh, and I have never seen a lady dance so comfortably in high heels like that before. Neyma went down low to the floor and didn’t trip or fall. Not even once.
I knew Kenyan artiste Kato Change from the Internet, but I had never seen him in person. Until that Saturday that is. He was one of the guitarists in the show. I first spotted him standing outside in a simple black outfit, and some cool aviator reflector sunglasses. And mahn did he look hot!
Inside the studio, there were also two female singers in the background. Their well done hair and evident makeup made them look pretty. They looked like sisters in matching outfits, green sequin dresses and green high heels. Their fancy dresses reached their knees while gently hugging their unique bodies as one of them had a lean figure, while the other one was so curvaceous you couldn’t help but stare. Her dress however looked like it had lost most of its lustre. I guess she didn’t want to outshine her slimmer companion.
After the second performance we couldn’t wait to go back outside. It’s not that we were tired of seeing Vanessa’s face, or doing several takes of the same song. We were simply famished. The hunger made us moody and angry. If there’s one thing you need to survive a day without your music playlist and online friends, it’s food people.
Apart from us, there were a few Sauti Academy students in the premises as audience members too. Sauti Academy is a Kenyan music school that has produced brilliant artistes like H_art the Band, Sauti Sol, and Cece Sagini.
Like them, the musicians brought along a guitar and its player. To deal with the idleness during the breaks, they performed a number of songs – some unfamiliar to me. (Why didn’t we think of that?). Their voices were so good we went to watch them sing.
Now there was this one guy. His name was Ian, and he could SING. We stood at a safe distance as he performed two unique Swahili songs – the guitarist and the other singers cheerfully backing him up. It turned out both of them were his own compositions. One was called Faya, a very catchy jam .
Later, he told us that he had met Trey earlier in the week. He performed the song to him and they even sang it together. I know, can you believe it? He must have been impressed by it as much as we were. I seriously can’t wait for it to be released as a single, so that the rest of the world can hear how amazing it is.
The second session of the day was definitely most exciting. We were all anxious to see the man of the day. The international artist. The R&B superstar. The sexy god. The father to our unborn children. Tremaine Aldon Neverson.
You should have seen how fast we scrambled into the studio when we were called back. In a minute we had pressed each other towards the lit stage. One by one, the collaborating artists were called to stage. Vanessa and Neyma strutted in new set of sexy clothes and accessories, cheers following their heel steps. Kenyan rapper Nyashinski was somewhere there too. And the rest, I don’t recall (sorry).
And then it was finally Trey’s turn. As soon as he appeared from the backstage, we screamed so loudly we were lucky we didn’t go deaf. I think the fellas did a bit of cheering too. He swaggered onto the stage with his black shaggy hair and fine chocolate body. We almost melted to the floor. During the first take, there was so much screaming you could barely hear the lyrics of the song. It was too hot in there.
Now I am usually not one to get over-excited about some things. But this was surreal. It was like seeing your sexy crush that you’ve been admiring for the last 8 years. Actually, that is the case with Trigga. When he needed a girl, I was always here. When he told me to say aah, I simply obeyed.
By the time we left the studio for the performers to record the silent version without audience, every girl’s cheeks were flushing red. Faces glowed with wide smiles and excitement, each telling its personal story of how we were affected by being in Trey’s presence. This was something you didn’t think would ever happen to you, but it did. We just couldn’t stop beaming.
Before our evening tea and mandazi (hallelujah) we witnessed the final performance of the day. In this one we were also graced by the presence of Nigerian singer Yemi Alade. A few diehard fans behind me kept shouting her name repeatedly during the takes. It irked me a little. Weren’t we here for Trey, I wondered. Why do you forsake him?
But Yemi was a good sport, just like Neyma. She reacted to the crowd’s cheers by doing a bit of dancing and ass shaking. I noticed she looks the same as she does on TV. She shone like a star from head to toe. A blonde hair bun, a shiny gold jacket, black shorts, and black and gold strap heels. Mmhh, a girl remembers sometimes.
Update: She still hasn’t found Johnny. But her Trey on the other hand …
It was dusk by the time we left the studio for the last time. But that wasn’t before a group picture with Trey standing in front of us, as we cramped up on the stage. He just couldn’t afford a selfie with everyone. We sighed, and took what we could get. However a few daring ladies went for hugs after the photo. Like a gentleman, he gave them exactly what they wanted.
Needless to say those girls didn’t want to be touched afterwards. I won’t remove these clothes, I heard one say. Nyashinski also got off stage at one point and surprised one girl with a bear hug. Awws immediately floated all over the room.
In line with the statement life is unfair, a few people got the chance to take a personal photo with Trey and the other celebrities. I, was not one of them. But it’s cool. Seeing him in the flesh was enough for me. And I mean it guys, don’t think I’m wiping sad tears over here.
Being a part of Coke Studio was such a strange yet fun adventure. I loved being part of the audience in such an exclusive show. Being able to dance and sing along to music collaborations heard by few. To be in the same room with artists I had never watched live before. Trey especially had so much energy on stage it infected the whole crowd. It was just as I pictured it from TV.
I wish I could share a Coke Studio Africa video with you, but rules are rules guys. We’ll just have to wait together for a few weeks to watch the episodes in October. I bet you’ve already seen the YouTube ads reminding you of the new season. Or the hundred highway billboards, with Fally Ipupa and Sauti Sol’s faces staring at you while you sit in traffic. It is more hyped than a new season of Game Of Thrones.
From this experience, I’m already looking forward to watch the other star collaborations recorded in the past few months.If it’s anything like what I witnessed, it’s going to be lit (yes, in that way).
As you watch season four on TV, remember to imagine yourself as an audience member. That way, you’ll feel like you’re right inside the Coke Studio.