New breed of Kenyan Artists
Volume set, neither too loud nor susurrus. A new jam plays. The song is totally insane. I have no idea the face behind the male voice though I can tell the female’s. Seconds later, Shazam has the answer. The song is dubbed Dumbalaand proves me right, the female voice is actually Sage Chemtai’s. The rapper happens to be Jay-A, at this moment I’ve no clue who he is. Same puzzle happens to have struck a colleague, a pointer to a shift in the musical see-saw. Welcome to the crop of Kenya’s new artists that are gracing the scene.
I first got to know Sage early this year courtesy of the show Nairobi Sessionsrun by super producer Blackman and curating via YouTube. She had just debuted with a hit song So Alive featuring lyrical master Octoppizo and was receiving massive airplay. But it was not until this moment that I got to admire her vocal prowess. A sweet guitar backdrop set the stage for the urbane Sage in the 3 minute acoustic session. Sage is just one of the many artists that have popped up in the recent past and have proved quite a competition to the already established counterparts.
Afro-fusion Fena Gitu otherwise known as FenaMenal woman came to the limelight back in 2011 with the track Fenomanal Woman, having done her first titled Done. She went ahead to dropAfrican Massive that became her ultimate breakthrough and captured who exactly she is as an artist: fun, crossover-ready, and in tune with that perfect mix of self and mainstream pull. The USIU alumni voice can be described as fresh and crisp.
Then there’s melodious Adeline Maranga better known by her stage name Dela. There’s more than meets the eye, her beauty is complemented by a voice that always mellows me into my zone. According to her bio, her love for music blossomed at the tender age of seven when her gift was stirred in church. She would later meet Dan Chidi Aceda while pursuing Architecture at University of Nairobi taking the role of background vocalist, the proverbial baptism of fire for her. Many have described her voice as sultry and versatile ending up with the nickname ‘The Voice’. Her maiden musical foray venture was a collaboration with boy band Sauti Sol on their hit single Mama Papa. Her critically acclaimed album Paukwa features amazing tracks among themWeche Tek, a personal favorite.
When it comes to music that breaks boundaries between old and new generation’s taste, Nina Ogot cannot go unmentioned. A gifted vocalist, pianist and guitarist, Nina fuses her cultural background and new ones creating an authentic tune reinforced by the fact that she sings in French, Swahili, English, Lingala and Luo. She released her debut album Ninairobi back in 2008, a testimony of her deep soulful vocal ability. Though she‘s been in the industryfor a while now and hasn’t managed to hit the top spot, she has already established a mark. Her song Chokora inspired me to write a poem(Read it here)
Kagwa Mungai is a musical voyaging pigeon of sorts. He’s a jack of all trades having the titles singer, rapper, saxophonist, drummer, DJ, pianist, producer and song-writer under his belt. While Aaron Rimbui’s star might still be at it’s peak, Kagwe has cut a niche proving to be a perfect match for the legendary instrumentalist. The 21 year old released his debut EP, It Only Gets Better, in 2012. He began pursuing music at the age 13. By 16, he had already been introduced to production. His notable collaboration came between Fena Gitu and himself in the song Dutch. He produces his own music and has done it for a number of big acts including miss Karun and Eric Wainaina.
Another musical force is one Sara Mitaru. Her Song You Said featuring Sauti Sol’s Bien Aime won hearts of many. In her shoes follows Mumala Maloba. She rolled out her track Where did the love go proving she’s in for a run.
Other notable figures includes Ameleena, Kato Change, Kevin Mbugua and Ninanjira. I just feel the likes of Mai Lekwo and Harry Kimani are yet to pop out of their shadows but their voices are up to par. These artists replace the likes of Nyota Ndogo, Amani, Didge, Nameless the list is endless.
listen to it here. And where did the talented Osmane go? The one of Little Star fame, reggae being his genre. Just wondering… Props to Blanket and Wine’s Muthoni Drummer Queen and Nairobi Sessions’ Blackman Muthama for creating a platform that showcases musical talents.