The rise of gengetone: Why Kenyans have given West African, Tanzanian stars a break

Ethic Entertainment and Sailors Gang (inset) [Photo: Courtesy/ Instagram @sailors_254]

Tonight, Kenya’s breakout stars Ethic Entertainment will be setting up base in Club da Place in Kisumu for one of the most anticipated concerts organised in the recent past.

The event was organised about two months ago and if word on the ground is anything to go by, this show will be a full-house affair that might force the organiser to seek extra space.

“Since we announced that Ethic will be performing here, everyone has been calling to book for space. I think we will be houseful. We are organising to beef-up security and also see how we can expand sitting space to accommodate more people,” Ken, the proprietor of Club da Place told Pulse.

The Figa hit makers will be accompanied by DJ Mellow, arguably the hottest femcee in Kenya right now.

As Ethic heads to the lake town city, their counterparts in the Gengetone tune Sailors Gang, The Decimators and Zzero Sufuri will be leading a host of star at the 27th Edition of Koroga Festival to be held at Two Rivers starting tomorrow and across to Sunday.

As much as showbiz great Alpha Blondy, Wyre and Redsan will be performing, it is the new craze led by the Gengetone ‘gangs’ that has everyone wanting to get to Two Rivers.

The new wave of newbie stars has been so strong that music fans, club DJs and promoters have suddenly stopped playing and sourcing for foreign artistes like it was about two years ago. The Bongo craze as well as the West African music hype seems to have taken a back seat as Gengetone, whose first spark was Ethic’s Lamba Lolo, takes charge of Kenyan showbiz. 

After Ethic’s arrival, a wave of these new talents started releasing their songs. From Boondocks Gang, Ochunglo Family to Fat boy Gwash and Zzero Sufuri, it was like a new school of Kenyan urban music had been opened.

They were getting heavy social media attention and this translated to  media attention from radio and TV stations. Kenyan DJs had no choice but to play Kenyan music as the demand grew.

Ever since then, these new artistes do shows week in week out at various joints in and around the country. Club 1824 Thursdays’ themed ‘Thursdaze’ is a perfect example.

DJs also have mixes consisting of purely local music seeing that these new wave jams are the ultimate crowd buzzer in clubs. Kenyans know these songs word for word and get up to dance whenever they come on. Radio stations also have shows dedicated to Kenyan music only.

The growth and success of this new wave has also forced the more established Kenyan artistes to embrace these new acts.

This can be seen in the various collabos ie Ethic ft The Kansoul, Magixx Enga ft Alvino and even Khaligraph Jones shouting out Zzero Sufuri in his latest single Leave Me Alone.