Waiting to excel: Eight talented stars who deserve better than they are getting

Mayonde, Kagwe and Ruth [Photo: Courtesy]

They have the talent, showbiz aura and tick all the right boxes that complete the package of a star artiste.

So why don’t these artistes just make it to the top? Ahadi Wambui looks at some Kenyan stars whom we think deserve better than they are getting.

Kagwe Mungai

 It remains a wonder why this cute lad is not one of the biggest male acts in East Africa considering his vast musical talents and recent title of Cîroc brand ambassador.

Kagwe first came onto the scene after his successful cover of Oleku by Nigeria’s Ice Price featuring Brymo. From there he hit the ground running with such hits as Give It To Me, Creeper, Bad Girls and Biggest Fan.

Unknown to many, Kagwe is a man of many talents as he can sing, write, act and produce. He is the brains behind the big hit Kama Kawaida that features Muthoni The Drummer Queen, Mayonde and Fena Gitu, and Sauti Sol’s Nishike.

Kagwe Mungai [Photo: Courtesy]

“At the time of making the song there were no good R&B songs in Kenya. I met up with Sauti Sol and I played them a couple of songs and they liked Nishike,’’ he tells Pulse.

He obviously has a good ear for music and can spot other talents from a mile away and a good number of his songs have had good reception.

This includes songs such as Till the End featuring Nigeria’s Niniola. The fact is that it is difficult to spot a bad Kagwe Mungai track and having been signed to Taurus Musik, one of the best stables in the country, makes think that this guy deserves a better deal from industry players. 

 Mayonde

This sultry songstress has it all going for her; beauty, charm and impeccable vocal chords. There is no doubting her vocal prowess and songs such as Isikuti Love prove this.

One issue for her seems to be a lack of consistency and clear vision on where her music is heading. She made a decent comeback with the song Nairobi (featuring Stone Jiwee), Kama Kawaida and Party Nation. 

“People have been relating to Nairobi, considering hoods have been mentioned in the song and many feel like they are part of it. Even people that I really admire are sharing it and it feels good and it’s validating. It’s been doing so well, actually better than any song that I have released personally as Mayonde. It’s pretty exciting,” she tells Pulse.

However, since then it has been radio silence from her, at least musically speaking. She appeared as a judge on the first season of KTN’s I Can Sing show and we can only wait and see what the year holds for her. Is she the girl power magic that is waiting to explode? 

Dela

Dela has been in the music industry for what seems like a lifetime. She got her break after doing a Swahili cover of Adele’s Hello. Many netizens were quick to applaud her effort after choosing a different approach to the cover by going with Swahili.

 The heavens seemed to have opened for her and she got signed to Taurus Musik. She released more hits including Mafeelings, which was no doubt one of the biggest hits of 2016, Third Party Lover, Nakuahidi featuring Gilad and Adabu with H_art the Band, which received good reception and even tried a different sound on her song with We’ll Be Ok (featuring Timmy Tdat), a collaboration which actually turned out well.

She faced criticism from Uganda’s Bebe Cool who called her out for being lazy.

“I am not concerned with such issues to be honest, because everyone knows Dela is one of the most hardworking artiste in Kenya releasing single after single,” she was quick to respond.

Dela [Photo: Courtesy]

After her contract at Taurus Musik ended last year, she started slowing down a little but manged to release Fire with Gilad again, which had lukewarm reception.

She appears to be experimenting with her look and maybe that is our cue to look out for a new sound in 2019 but we shall see. Besides, we all agree that Dela is one of the most talented female artistes we have in the land and so, why doesn’t this result to good returns, concerts and airplay?

Sage

Sage got on everybody’s radar when she released her song So Alive with Octopizzo, five years ago.

She then jumped on Dumbala with Jay A and the song became a certified hit. She, however failed to keep the momentum going and slowed down quite a bit. She is a fantastic live performer and she has pipes for days but it is a bumpy road being a fan as she has all types of highs and lows musically and is unable to remain consistent.

Sage [Photo: Courtesy]

The last song we heard from her was Maskini which was released two years ago, which considering how competitive the music scene is, that makes it difficult to remember her. Whatever else Sage is doing with her life we might not know but the showbiz industry is calling. 

Suzziah

Kenyans were pleasantly surprised after they bumped into Suzziah’s vocals on the huge 2017 Le Band hit Number One.

She then went ahead to win Kiss TV Singing competition The Search and won a Sh1 million shilling and a recording deal. There was hope when she released Piga Mdomo as most were hopeful that this was the sign of more to come from her but unfortunately, another full year passed before she released Formula.

[Photo: Courtesy]

She has been active with live performances to keep her fresh in our minds although we will cut her some slack as she might still be learning the ropes. Hopefully, it does not take forever because this ruthless industry abhors a vacuum. Take your space girl.

Ruth Matete

She started off as a praise and worship leader in church but went on to win Tusker Project Fame Season 5 in 2012 and a cool Sh5 million. However, it is there that things in her personal life begun to take a nosedive.

She got heavy criticism after performing on Tusker Project Fame season 6 in ‘that’ dress and admitted she wanted to commit suicide due to the pressure.

 “I tried to commit suicide because I had never been in a place where I was required to handle so much pressure.  You switch on the radio and the trending topic is Ruth Matete’s dress,” she said.

Ruth Matete [Photo: Courtesy]

She later admitted that she felt she had done wrong to participate in the singing competition. She managed to open a music school in Nairobi called 5 Star Nairobi School of Music. She has tried to remain relevant with songs such as Nakupenda, Eloi Eloi and Umeni but they have not made that big impact.

Should we just accept that Ruth Matete is better placed as a praise and worship leader and move on?

Wangechi

Wangechi impressed many after jumping on King Kaka’s Ligi Soo remix and many were of the opinion that she was set to be Kenya’s next big female rapper.

She released Tulia Tu afterwards but things turned awry after she was involved in a near fatal accident in which her best friend Tiona died.

She took a break from music to heal and admitted to feeling self-conscious about her scars as well as guilt over losing her best friend.

She tried to jump back on the scene with the song Cardiac Arrest saying: “It’s a redemption song, which makes me feel better about what happened, clearing of my heart.” 

She later on released Here’s to Us in 2016, Used to It and Comeback featuring Phy (another star we want active) last year but we are yet to be convinced that she is truly back with a bang.

Amos and Josh

These runners up from Tusker Project Fame are among the acts from the singing competition who have made the biggest strides musically more than any other contestant.

They went on to release hit after hit with Baadaye featuring King Kaka, Moto Moto, Dansi Na Mi, Nerea (featuring Sauti Sol) and  Heri Tuachane.

Amos and Josh [Photo: Courtesy]

There was some hope they would end up following in the footsteps of Sauti Sol but it was not to be as the duo admitted to financial constraints and label issues.

“Year 2017 was a crazy year for us musically and on a personal level…it was very dark in every aspect, financially, mentally, spiritually everything.. There was a lot of pressure around us to change our course of music to fit with what was heavily on the airwaves at that time. We also had problems with our production deal to the point we didn’t go to studio for months, maybe like half the year,” Amos and Josh updated.

Now that they have broken up, it seems all those dreams are shuttered.

“We saw it’s good also to allow individual expression. Out of what we gather from our individual experiences we can come together and do something bigger. So it’s not really breaking, I do not think Amos and Josh will ever break, we have a whole album,'' Josh revealed.


JOIN THE CONVERSATION


next