Category: Music


New breed of Kenyan Artists

Volume set, neither too loud nor susurrus. A new jam plays. The song is totally insane. I have no idea the face behind the male voice though I can tell the female’s. Seconds later, Shazam has the answer. The song is dubbed Dumbala and proves me right, the female voice is actually Sage Chemtai’s. The rapper happens to be Jay-A, at this moment I’ve no clue who he is. Same puzzle happens to have struck a colleague, a pointer to a shift in the musical see-saw. Welcome to the crop of Kenya’s new artists that are gracing the scene.

I first got to know Sage early this year courtesy of the show Nairobi Sessions run by super producer Blackman and curating via YouTube. She had just debuted with a hit song So Alive featuring lyrical master Octoppizo and was receiving massive airplay. But it was not until this moment that I got to admire her vocal prowess. A sweet guitar backdrop set the stage for the urbane Sage in the 3 minute acoustic session. Sage is just one of the many artists that have popped up in the recent past and have proved quite a competition to the already established counterparts. 

Fene Gitu

Fene Gitu

Afro-fusion Fena Gitu otherwise known as FenaMenal woman came to the limelight back in 2011 with the track Fenomanal Woman, having done her first titled Done. She went ahead to drop African Massive that became her ultimate breakthrough and captured who exactly she is as an artist: fun, crossover-ready, and in tune with that perfect mix of self and mainstream pull. The USIU alumni voice can be described as fresh and crisp.

Then there’s melodious Adeline Maranga better known by her stage name Dela. There’s more than meets the eye, her beauty is complemented by a voice that always mellows me into my zone. According to her bio, her love for music blossomed at the tender age of seven when her gift was stirred in church. She would later meet Dan Chidi Aceda while pursuing Architecture at University of Nairobi taking the role of background vocalist, the proverbial baptism of fire for her. Many have described her voice as sultry and versatile ending up with the nickname ‘The Voice’. Her maiden musical foray venture was a collaboration with boy band Sauti Sol on their hit single Mama Papa. Her critically acclaimed album Paukwa features amazing tracks among them Weche Tek, a personal favorite. 

Dela Maranga

Dela Maranga

When it comes to music that breaks boundaries between old and new generation’s taste, Nina Ogot cannot go unmentioned. A gifted vocalist, pianist and guitarist, Nina fuses her cultural background and new ones creating an authentic tune reinforced by the fact that she sings in French, Swahili, English, Lingala and Luo. She released her debut album Ninairobi back in 2008, a testimony of her deep soulful vocal ability. Though she‘s been in the industry for a while now and hasn’t managed to hit the top spot, she has already established a mark. Her song Chokora inspired me to write a poem(Chokora by The Door)

Kagwa Mungai

Kagwa Mungai

Kagwa Mungai is a musical voyaging pigeon of sorts. He’s a jack of all trades having the titles singer, rapper, saxophonist, drummer, DJ, pianist, producer and song-writer under his belt. While Aaron Rimbui’s star might still be at it’s peak, Kagwe has cut a niche proving to be a perfect match for the legendary instrumentalist. The 21 year old released his debut EP, It Only Gets Better, in 2012. He began pursuing music at the age 13. By 16, he had already been introduced to production. His notable collaboration came between Fena Gitu and himself in the song Dutch. He produces his own music and has done it for a number of big acts including miss Karun and Eric Wainaina. 

 

Another musical force is one Sara Mitaru. Her Song You Said featuring Sauti Sol’s Bien Aime won hearts of many. In her shoes follows Mumala Maloba. She rolled out her track Where did the love go proving she’s in for a run.

Other notable figures includes Ameleena, Kato Change, Kevin Mbugua and Ninanjira. I just feel the likes of Mai Lekwo and Harry Kimani are yet to pop out of their shadows but their voices are up to par. These artists replace the likes of Nyota Ndogo, Amani, Didge, Nameless the list is endless.

PS.

The timeless Mercy Myra’s and Nyashinski’s comeback is a welcome. Have you heard of his latest track Wanahepa? If not, listen to it here. And where did the talented Osmane go? The one of Little Star fame, reggae being his genre. Just wondering… Props to Blanket and Wine’s Muthoni Drummer Queen and Nairobi Sessions’ Blackman Muthama for creating a platform that showcases musical talents.

The Nairobi Sessions Sails On.

Super producer Blackman still in his quest to unearth musical talents has featured a second batch of artists in his show The Nairobi Sessions. The show, which is all about showcasing Nairobi’s Vibrant urban music culture ( read about it here ) has gotten even better.

Shot at the Sierra Lounge, Yaya Center, a new taste is evident. Gadget freak and Just A Band front-man Blinky Bill makes a come back teaming up with Afro-Soul Dela to perform Ulivyo. Ulivyo is swahili for How You Are. The song is off Dela’s Album Paukwa. Blackman as always plays the guitar skillfully in the four-minutes session.

Kanji Mbugua, a household name in the gospel music scenes makes an appearance. He does a love song titled Above You that happens to have been written by Blackman and his wife. Now the two have a history together that dates way back before the producer came to the limelight. Signed to Kijiji records, Kanji has done a number of big hits including Push On that received massive airplay.

A guest show also did perform, this time round a female and from west Africa. Meet one, Temi Dollface from Nigeria. Performing Exception to the Rule, Temi gives a brief introduction about herself before setting her beautiful voice on. The little known Nigerian singer does it all by herself, doing the piano. She has a breathtakingly broad musical palette. At the tender age of 7, she wrote and composed her first song with a keyboard given to her as a gift by the pastor of the church she attended; her self-education in playing the keys began. For the years that followed, and up until her teens, she sang at church and performed at every given opportunity. Blackman is just doing it right.

Heres Dela and Blinky Bill doing Ulivyo

The Nairobi Sessions is a web series that features big and growing musical talents. Award winning super producer David ‘Blackman’ Muthami is the man behind this creative idea. The weekly series is aimed at celebrating Nairobi’s vibrant music and urban culture.

The show has already kicked off big hosting a couple of artists that get to do unplugged versions of their songs. Here’s the crazy part, the performance is totally unrehearsed thereby showcasing a raw deal of the talents. The 2009’s Groove Awards Producer of the Year Blackman sticks himself on the guitar in the 4 minutes session curating via YouTube.

blackman

Blackman Muthami

Songbirds Sara Mitaru and Nanjira were the first two artists to be featured on Nairobi Sessions both of whom are signed to Blackman Entertainment label. Sara Mitaru performed a live acoustic version of You Said while Nanjira settled for her latest single Walking. Coincidentally, both tracks have were written by Blackman.

Others who have done their thing include Sage(real name Barabara) who performed So Alive that is a massive hit now. She has previously worked with Muthoni Drummer Queen before launching her solo career. Naomi Wachira who started singing from a tender age of five also made an appearance singing her track I’m Alive. Mumala did her single Where did the love go and later teamed up with rapper Rabbit performing hit song Adisia. Blinky Bill of Just A Band performed “Twende Kazi/Get Down” while Sara Miratu’s younger sister Wambura Mitaru who is a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston wrapped the list(as at the moment) of the appearances with her song “Radi na Umeme/Thunder and Lightning”.

The show also involves International singers visiting from Africa and Abroad. One of such is Uganda’s RnB sensation Maurice Kirya who made a stop-over and performed his track Worth The Wait. The show is promising. Blackman clearly got this right as he has managed to showcase us the new breed of Kenyan artists that seem unstoppable in their bid to take over. The show will run throughout the year. Check out the videos on YouTube.

Here’s younger Mitaru doing Radi na Umeme, I loved it!

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. 

~Berthold Auerbach

Weka usitegemee bahati, mtaka cha mvunguni kuinama ni sharti…“, starts off a female vocalist then pops in a male voice, “Ruka kwenye hewa zama kwa maji kama chewa…“. Meet a local duet of a 2009 African Achievement Award winnning Mzungu Kichaa featuring afro-fusion Dela in African Hustle.

Image

The song came out late last year and from the beginning one thing is evident: inspiration. African Hustle is a positive message of putting effort in what we do and reap off from our hard work. The song is a mixture of Bongo Flava, a wildly popular Tanzanian style of hip-hop that uses arabesque melodies with elements of afrobeat and dancehall sealed with afro-soul. Mzungu Kichaa is white, Danish who grew up in Tanzania and came to fall in love with the local culture seeing himself adopt a local Swahili name that means crazy white man. He sings in fluent Kiswahili and is well know in East Africa.

The Track is a fresh single from Kichaa’s EP Hustle released on first December of last year. Dela on the other hand is a Kenyan neo-soul singer who happens to be one of Kichaa’s favorite locally. “Africa will rise up with African Hustle..” the star throws in some line, happens to be my best part; the message. For a lover of Afro-soul, this is a must listen. The song is available on iTunes.

 

 

 

Janet's Planet

Please note this is not an official Peace Corps site. The views expressed are not those of the government or the Peace Corps but are Jane's own, unofficial musings about her life and travels. All material is intended for friends and family, not the paparazzi.

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