Me niko nje/ me na ko-ko-ko-ko-kopa finje! – Toshi of Nannoma
This year on the 12th of Drinkcember my beautiful land, the 254 turns 50 years old. It’s been 50 years since the Brits said, “Have it! Govern yourselves.” It’s been 50 years of the 254 progressing then regressing at the same damn time. It’s been 50 years of the economy being fucked the fuck up while mathrees got free wi-fi. The only thing I will be celebrating this year is the music.
Kenyan music like all music globally swims in a pool of mediocrity courtesy of a bunch of non-talented fucks who get all the airplay because humanity is stupid & has no taste! However, there are artists who won’t settle for less than the best & I salute them today. So. Without further nonsense. Let me do this.
While lesser artists like Bamboo left the 254 to go to the States, Eric Wainaina came back from Berklee to build what he & his former group Five Alive had started which was making incredible music! Eric is one of those artists who doesn’t know how to write bad songs. His albums just get better with the best being the latest “Love + Protest”. Dude has mastered the art of being conscious without sounding self righteous & when he writes even about love it’s definitely something you can relate to! Like this “Mariana” song that me & my ex cried to at Blankets & Wine because truth.
Kenya’s first boy band. But a boy band with soul. I remember watching these kids before the fame, singing there asses off at Alliance Francaise & I knew they would be taking over the 254. My favorite album remains their first “Mwanzo” which is such a feel good album if you listen to it & get angry at the world, you have no soul. My favorite record has to be “Blue Uniform” which reminds me of the Moi days when we would be harassed by cops when heading to Jay Kay’s! Wololo!
The first time I listened to Dela she was talking & I remember thinking to myself that she had a sexy voice. Then a few weeks later I bought her first album, Paukwa & she blew my mind. This girl is amazingly talented & an incredible performer. She is an artist you pay to watch on stage & get more than your money’s worth. My favorite record is her collabo with Sauti Sol that must be played at my wedding, Mama Papa.
UKOO FLANI MAU MAU
Rap music is garbage. Ok. Not always. It was dope in the 90s but has kept sinking as the years progressed. Kenyan rap is no different. However this group of Kenyan rappers gave us Kalamashaka, Mashifta, Wakamba Wawili, Wenyeji & the most famous Juliani. My favorite album from these dudes has to be Kilio Cha Haki which is a wonderfully written story about life in the slum. My favorite jam doe has to be what I think should be the anthem of Kenya at 50, Angalia Saa.
DAN “CHIZI” ACEDA
This dude calls himself the Prince of Benga. That’s a huge title akin to Weezy’s “Best Rapper Alive” which is a fallacy. But Dan has lived up to the hype. His latest album , “Made In Kenya” is a testament to this. He has a way of putting soul into benga & making you feel like you’re listening to Okatch Biggy & Raphael Saddiq at the same damn time. My favorite jam has to be “An E Yo” which is dholuo for “I’m on the way”. Love it!
What can I say about her? Rapper, Singer, Drummer, Original Bauss Lady, Fashionista! Muthoni breaks all the rules. She doesn’t follow trends & refuses to be pigeon holed. Her music will make you angry, happy, sad at the same damn time. Her album “The Human Condition” remains a favorite but I really, really like her new shit! Like this Nairobian anthem that’s so real you laugh when you think of how the lyrics describes your life in Nairobi!
JUST A BAND
This is my favorite band in Africa! They only come second to Arctic Monkeys when I think globally! These guys are the kings of original. Watching them live is electrifying & listening to their albums is mind blowing! I am even afraid to say that “Scratch To Reveal” is my favorite album coz the others, “82” & “Sorry For The Delay” are special to me in their own way. Just A Band’s success should be studied in universities under a course called “Dare To Be Different. Dare To Be Original”. My favorite jam is even hard to pick yo! For the love of EDM I go with “Forever People”.
With that said, honorable mentions to Diana Nduba, Nanjira Sambuli, Lady Karun, Sage, Sara Mitaru & Fena Gitu who still haven’t reached album status but drop incredible music each time they come out! Shout out to Musyoka who is Kenya’s best producer, Wawesh who’s another incredible producer & Dillie who is changing the game right now with his beats! Big up Tedd Josiah for blazing the trail.
Shout out to DJ Adrian who made me love music as a teen watching him turn tables in Westie, Pinye for making me believe you can do anything & DJ John for every kid he gave a shot & made it in this game.
I might not have money in my pockets, water in the crib & electricity to light up the road but what I always have is the music in my head. Thanks guys. Keep making & playing good music.