Can the old wine blend with the new? How battle is shaping up

[Photo: Courtesy]

Listening to the Nameless and Khaligraph Jones Megarider Remix, a music fan who was born in year 2000, now hitting the entertainment scene and jamming to Ethic’s Instagram would think this is a completely new jam.

Khaligraph Jones the OG, whose Huduma number name is Brian Robert Ouko, was nine years old when Ogopa Deejays released Megarider. It is no wonder this week, Khaligraph tried a stab back at the now-retired DJ Pinye with a post of him (Khaligraph) riding a bike; “Izo ndio siku DJ Pinye Hakutaka Kucheza wimbo zangu kwa Beat. Maisha ilikua imeenda vibaya mpaka nikarudi Bondo kuendesha Blacky na kuuza Rabuoni. Akwende uko mbali sana.”

Basically, what Khaligraph, now the biggest hip-hop artiste around, is trying to say is that back then it was hard for an artiste to break through if they didn’t belong to a certain circle or sing a given genre with a given quality of recording.

Those were the days of E-Sir, whose MosMos was an anthem, Nonini (featuring Sylvia) with Manzi wa Nairobi, Kleptomaniax with Twendelee, Lenny, Mr Googz and Vinnie Banton with Githurai, Amani (featuring Nyashinski) with Bad Boy, Deux Vultures with Katika, Wahu with Liar, Tatuu with Songea, Gidi Gidi Maji Maji with Ting Badi Malo, Boomba Clan with Chonga Viazi, Prezzo (featuring Nazizi) with Let’s Get Down, Jua Cali with Ngeli ya Genge, Redsan with Apakatwe, Longombas… The list of the artiste who made big hits back then is endless.

Those were the days of E-Sir, whose MosMos was an anthem, Nonini (featuring Sylvia) with Manzi wa Nairobi, Kleptomaniax with Twendelee, Lenny, Mr Googz and Vinnie Banton with Githurai, Amani (featuring Nyashinski) with Bad Boy, Deux Vultures with Katika, Wahu with Liar, Tatuu with Songea, Gidi Gidi Maji Maji with Ting Badi Malo, Boomba Clan with Chonga Viazi, Prezzo (featuring Nazizi) with Let’s Get Down, Jua Cali with Ngeli ya Genge, Redsan with Apakatwe, Longombas… The list of the artiste who made big hits back then is endless.

In fact, many a times, the argument among showbiz analysts has always been that the formative years of the Kenyan showbiz industry as we know it today were greater than all the three generations that have followed them.

Then came in the likes of Camp Mulla, Jaguar, P Unit, Avril, DNA, DNG, Mejja, Sauti Sol, Kaka Sungura (now King Kaka), Daddy Owen, Sanaipei, Kenrazy, Trapee, Kenzo, Victoria Kimani, Gloria Muliro, Amileena, Alicios and many others who gave the Kenyan scene a fresh swag with Camp Mulla becoming the new face of Nairobi cool.

Back then, the game was changing from the ordinary Kapuka and Genge, quickly making a transition to a new Kenyan fusion - the kind Sauti Sol brought - and urban cool - Camp Mulla’s vibe - and moving from the old ratchet feel that sometimes Calif provided as they fought the Ogopa Deejays wave.

The likes of Bahati, Willy Paul, Papa Dennis, GinIdeal, Mayonde, Ivy Mutua, Notti Flow, Fena, Femi One, Kush Tracey, Nadia Mukami, Jabidii, Mr Seed, MasterPiece, Bruz Newton and Band Beca all represent yet another generation in the Kenyan music scene.

The question has always been, with so much music talent what happened to the Kenyan music industry? How comes most of those musicians have either quit music or are struggling to make it? How comes there is little to show for? And worse so, after creating all that vacuum, why are some of these stars of yesteryears struggling to make a comeback.

“I think what lacked was consistency. Many artistes would release hit songs and take long breaks before releasing the next. They felt, sort of, indispensable until a new breed came and boxed them out,” says gospel star Victor Mbuvi, one of the longest surviving stars who few will remember from back in the day with the Ukilya Moko hit.

“For an industry to survive, all sectors within it must work together towards a planned direction. There are many experts; music producers, promoters, musicians…call them, who worked hard to ensure that the Kenyan music industry grew to a level of maturity, a place where we could export our art… However, most were frustrated by cartels, a few people who claimed that they owned the industry,” he adds.

And now, even with all the campaign for play Kenyan, the industry seems more segmented and has now given birth to a new rebel generation that is becoming the face of Kenyan music.

We have Ethic Entertainment with hits like Lamba Lolo, Saba and Instagram, Ochungulo Family with Krimino, Bora Uhai, Thutha and Na Iwake, Rico Gang with Dance it Up, F**k Boy and Chachisha, Boondocks Gang with Rieng, Team Kata Tenje (Psycho) with Kata Tenje, Team Ganji 254 Entertainment with Pana Tambua Lawama, G-Rock Music with Ma**ko and Gikomba as well as Mob K and ADK-, the later doing ‘shrap’. This week, a new imposter named Mchizi Zzeerrrooooo-drr emerged, and he is all the talk in town thanks to his trash song.

Most interestingly, the new cats seem to be dictating the direction the music industry is taking with their popularity in clubs as well as YouTube presence being their main drive. Plainly put, even the likes of The Kansoul had to work on a collabo with Ethic in Position to maintain their relevance.

While Nameless has worked with many upcoming artistes in his rebranding process ahead of his expected mega album launch later in the year, it is his Khaligraph Megarider fusion that is giving him most hits and even more relevance with his new-age fans.

“The old crowd is intact and loyal. However, we need to keep with the new and that is why we are constantly rebranding. I have more projects coming and it is all an exciting progress,” Nameless told Pulse during a recent chat.

Even Redsan who was seen as ‘untouchable’ back then has brought his game to local levels with his latest work being a collabo, Pon Di Corner, recorded with female artiste Kendi, a video that was released about 6 days ago. That is after Vivian consulted him in making the dancehall track Attention.

Pon Di Corner in Jamaica means in the corner, the Jamaica wine dance thing. Redsan and I have been friends and for us, this was easy. He has never heard me sing but when he heard my voice this time round he decided to support me. Our teams clicked. It was a very professional project,” Kendi says of her project with Redsan.

“The problem with people working together in the Kenyan music industry is a case of attitude. Everyone thinks they are bigger than the other one. I agree that there is a new generation of artistes but even them, they should be willing to learn from the old if they have to earn respect. There are some I honestly can’t work with because of their level of immaturity,” Kendi adds.

Asked whether he was considering working with some of those, multiple Groove nominee Jabidii says: “People were discouraging me from doing collabos, but they are good because they bring out different strengths from the artistes. Kenya is one market where you can be a hit this year and the following you’re nowhere to be seen. It is good to relate with people to know what they want because this is key.”

 


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