They say Kenyan music clutches at straws for identity; that it’s a concoction of various sounds, difficult to classify under a singular umbrella. In fact, maybe that’s the beauty of it. The first half of the year has seen some exciting collaborations emerging in the Kenyan urban music scene, featuring Rhumba, Afropop, Trap and Gengetone, from seasoned acts to new entrants. Here is a glimpse at what’s constituting the playlist of Kenya’s listeners.
Nameless & Wahu – Feeling
July 07, 2021
Fans love to refer to them as the Jay Z & Beyonce of Kenya. Nameless and Wahu have exuded relationship goals for most aspiring young Kenyans over the years. “Feeling” is inspired by several true stories including that of Nameless and Wahu at the beginning of their courtship. “This is a song that describes a conflict between emotion and societal conditioning. In this video, a saved college girl is conflicted between her love for a man and the fact that he is not born again”, shared The Mathenges. “Feeling” is the second collaboration from the couple who have each been releasing solo music since they debuted in the music scene almost two decades ago. The song is produced by Cedo.
Masauti – No Stress (feat. Trio Mio)
June 25, 2021
Masauti and Trio Mio are part of the new generation flag bearers of Urban Kenyan music, with a distinct youthful sound. On No Stress, they exhibit the follies of youth; fun, drugs and beautiful ladies, living young, wild and free. This is the typical music you’re likely to hear in popular clubs and on mainstream media across the country. No Stress was produced by Mavo on the Beat.
Bahati – Pete Yangu (feat. Nadia Mukami)
June 14, 2021
Nadia Mukami and Bahati link up on this Afropop ballad, exchanging sweet nothings over a lively instrumentation that evokes mushy feelings of romance. “Pete Yangu” is a single off Bahati’s recently released Album, Love Like This, that saw the previously gospel artist cross over to the secular scene. On “Pete Yangu” the two utilize Swahili lyricism to convey tender confessions of love to each other in a nuptial context.
H_art The Band – My Jaber (feat. Brizy Annechild)
June 4, 2021
When searching for music with discernible messages and storytelling, away from trendy catchphrase-driven compositions, one can almost always bet on H_art The Band to deliver. The trio returned with their third full body of work titled Simple Man, an EP that carries their signature poetic lyrics, this time delivered in English, Kiswahili, French and Sheng (street slang). One of the leading singles from the project is “My Jaber”, a collaboration with Brizy Annechild who hails from Kisumu, the western part of Kenya. The upbeat song praises the beauty of women, especially from Western region of the country. This is another Cedo production.
Femi One – Adonai (feat. Bern Mziki)
May 17, 2021
Femi One is a Hip Hop artist who has greatly evolved over time, growing her brand beyond Kenya, to the neighboring East and Southern Africa. She recently launched her debut album, Greatness, featuring “Adonai” as the lead single. She collaborates with Bern Mziki who, in addition to producing the track, also sings on it, harmonizing her raps with sweet melodic delivery on the hooks. “This song is for all of us who are thankful to God for coming through in our lives”, she says. “Adonai” means My Lord, it is one of the many ways we can refer to God when praising Him and thanking Him. This basically sums up the meaning of the track, with Femi giving thanks to God for all the success she has and continues to have. “My relationship with God has always been close and my musical journey has solidified this relationship more. Adonai is my gratitude song for the greatness that He has given me personally and how He has shown up for me in my life and career. Adonai took me from being overlooked to being overbooked.” She adds.
King Kaka & Otile Brown – Fight
July 07, 2021
King Kaka and Otile Brown are back with a second collaboration, four years after their first hit, Alivyonipenda, which introduced listeners to their seamless musical chemistry. The groovy and danceable “Fight” narrates the yearning of artists to live stress-free, without unnecessary confrontations, either from people or circumstances. The fusion of King Kaka’s wordplays, with Otile’s smooth melodies makes for a joyful listen on “Fight”, effortlessly attracting a replay. It’s pleasing to know that, beyond the collaborations, the artists are also admirers of one another’s work and career, as King Kaka endorsed Brown as Kenya’s current best artist. “Wewe ndio the number one artist in the country, niko na number one artist in the country man (I’m with the number one artist in the country, you are the one)”, Said Kaka.
Sol Generation – Nairobi (feat. Mejja)
Jan 15, 2021
While it’s been months since Bensol and Sol Generation partnered with Mejja to release this epic single early in the year, you will hear it around every corner of Nairobi like it’s just dropped. Perhaps it has something so intertwined with the city that goes beyond the title. Well, Nairobi is a true reflection of the culture and sonic mishmash in Kenya’s capital. Lyrically, it narrates the messy urban life of trickery, backstabbing, materialism and individualism: where everyone’s for themselves, and boundaries, even in relationships, are blurred. Sonically, Nairobi sees the convergence of the city’s various music elements, fusing Trap, Rhumba and Gengetone. The song has contributing vocals from Bensoul, Sauti Sol, Nviiri the Storyteller & Mejja, with background vocals by Akisa Wangari. It boasts of a handful of production credits namely SoFresh254, Bensoul, Savara & Mbogua. Hornsphere and Yvan Kwizera contribute additional strings and horns. Safe to say it’s actually beautiful when the lines are blurry all through.Find some of these tracks in our One Dance playlist on Spotify and Deezer.