As we struggle to adjust from detty December and tune in with the new year, Kenyan music springs a’ fresh with numbers that dissolve the dark January mood. The fascinating aspect of the scene is it’s lack of identity, which might be a double edged sword – depending on your perspective. Though we all want a good banger that we can overplay in the club and get down to while doing dishes. With a gamut of singles cutting across all genres, we are offered a sneak peek of what the year holds in store for Kenyan music. Industry veterans – Khaligraph Jones and Nyashinski- are teaming up to produce gospel numbers while genre-bending artist Chris Kaiga finally releases his debut LP Adventures Of Kaiga. One thing stands, 2022 is off to a hot start for Kenyan music and so we are breaking down January’s hitmakers and big bangers.
“Kishash” (feat. Ndovu Kuu)
Lil Maina is an integral figure fusing comedy and music together. His comical stunts on his Instagram page and his unorthodox singles have ushered him into the public light. We are absolutely obsessed with Lil Maina’s TikTok account and most definitely this tune. With boasty beats and witty song composition, “Kishash” is an ode to all youth on sex, drugs and a comeback for all men attacked for low libido. They use colloquial language, relating to most people, making this a must add to your playlists.
Willy Paul, Klons Melody, Musa Jakadalla
The groovy and danceable “Atoti Jaber”, which translates to a fine looking woman, is a praise to the beauty of the women in Kenya. Released days before his album The African Experience, Willy Paul delivers a sensual hit with a high replay value. The song, encouraging artists to break out of neocolonialism, is perfectly executed in Kiswahili and Dholuo. The inclusion of star singer Musa Jakadalla and rising artist Klons Melody brings a new feel to the song as a cross cultural moment.
“Kitchwa Tu” (feat. Trio Mio, Timmy Tdat)
Gengetone music is a constant topic of debate in Kenya. From critics such as Dj Pinye to cultural heroes such as Mejja the genre has proved it is not dead nor is it dying anytime soon. “Kichwa Tu” is a cocktail of genge, gengetone and a splash of dancehall. Ssaru’s brawny flow screams femme fatale and Trio Mio’s lyrical wordplay puts together a lethal combination for the song. Timmy Tdat has been on the scene for more than five years and we love to see the support he’s offering the upcoming generation.
“Bad Boyz Club” (feat. Double Trouble, AJAY, Big yasa, Mr right, Young NC)
Buruklyn Boyz stated they are taking Nairobi by storm and they are not stopping. Released a few days before the new year, “Bad Boyz Club” is a medley of artists from Nairobi and Mombasa who have owned the drill culture. In a clear cut HD video the song takes you through a hood journey of boys with unquenched thirst to make it out. The six rappers are paramount raconteurs with an anomalous approach. The coastal accents add a perfect blend as the song heats up like stocked wood on a cold winter night.
“Hera” (feat. Apesi)
Scar Mkadinali is a hip-hop god who transcends human understanding – his cult following could tell you more. Serving punchlines and entendres, he is Mufasa ruling Priderock, especially after the release of his much awaited project Easy. His musical capability is elevated through a lens of escapism and fearlessness as a switch from his traditional flow in “Hera”. A single from his spectacular album, joining Apesi is another cross culture moment promoting Africanism and love of language. Beyond the beats and killer rapper attitude, there is something special about how Scar carries himself. In every line he puts out there is pain and honesty but also clarity and love.
“TOA FORM” (feat. Nare, Juicee Mann)
In the early aughts, Kenyan music was collectively popular. Especially Kapuka which eventually became a spectrum of Genge, Boomba and Gengetone. Toa Form is a number bringing all the aspects of Kenyan music together. A single from Munyax’ debut album Rapuka he features Nare and Juicee Mann as they take you down a nostalgic dive reminiscing on all the old hits and moments that came together. The upbeat tempo of the song gets your adrenaline pumping as you understand the combination of Rap and Kapuka. With relative slang you definitely want to turn up with the girlies to this track.
“Out In The Sun” (feat. Wayren Flizzer)
RAMIAN is an underground pop artist who drowns listeners in his exquisite voice. “Out In The Sun” is a harmonic number that brings you into the artist’s catalog. The yearning and fulfillment in his voice is a paradox that excites listeners as he comically states, “but Jesus won’t leave me on read.” The song gives off an indie summer vibe and absorbs you in each key, string and note they hit.
“Shida Za Kidosi” (feat. Khaligraph Jones)
This is the collaboration we did not know we needed. King Kaka and Khaligraph Jones are veterans in the rap industry and the contrast in their delivery is the USP (unique selling proposition) of this song. Khaligraph’s western accent accompanied by his never failing punch give a good opening to the song. King Kaka’s slow yet gracious flow ensures you don’t miss his tactical word play as he brags of his success while talking of their come up.
It seems that the sleeping giants have woken up. Reggae enthusiast Wyre comes back with a certified swahili-reggae tune “Nafasi Tu”. Known for championing reggae, Wyre was part of a rap group, Necessary Noize, that rocked the hearts of reggae fans. Nafasi Tu is a love ballad that talks about wealth, hustling and survival.
Still thirsty for Kenyan music? Make sure you take a look at our selection of 2021 Kenyan rap.