I’m a firm believer that things are getting better for Kenyan Music. It just gets better every year. Were it not for the pioneers (Nonini, Nameless, Wahu, E-Sir, Kleptomaniaxx, Necessary Noise) we wouldn’t be where we are right now. They paved the way for the new generation to make even better news.
To show you the impact the pioneers had on the industry, we have witnessed more album launches this year alone than I have seen this decade alone. That’s a step in the right direction. We had MDQ with She, Papa Jones with Testimony 1990, Octopizzo with Next Year, Redsan with The Baddest and the most recent being King Kaka with Eastlando Royalty.
Album after album
There is a reason why I love albums more than mere singles. When an artist releases an album, we get the opportunity to hear what he/she is capable of. There is more to express in an album than a hit single can ever do. Besides, most hits are normally club hits. How would I get to know the many sides of Redsan by listening to Shoulder Back? 🤷♂️
2018 has shown us that artists are taking their music seriously by releasing and promoting their project through various streaming sites. I, personally, am grateful for the artists for releasing their work on Apple Music because of two reasons; one because of accessibility; and to promote them. For those who do not know, they do get paid for every time their music gets streamed on the platform so support your artist on the various streaming sites.
What about the albums? Are they any good? Most of them are. Out of the five I have heard this year, I only had an issue with one. The rest were great. That shows the potential Kenyan artists have in terms of making great music. We have the best artists in the continent FYI. It’s a no brainer. Despite this, we seem to be falling behind other African countries.
Blame the audience
I’ll say the truth: we don’t support our artists. The sad but true reality in our country. I don’t know where this notion of listening to Nigerian and South African music came from but it needs to stop. Seriously. Besides, how do you enjoy a song that speaks a language you don’t understand?
This, obviously, puts pressure on the local artists to go all out on their efforts in an attempt to please the audience. We have seen time and time again, artists doing collabs with the guys we seem to love but when they do so, it feels forced. Because it is. We have seen others going crazy with their music video budgets only to get minimal attention. Clearly, the audience needs to be more aware of the local music than international music right? Well…
We also have the media platforms to blame
Radio and television; the two most influential, but dying, forms of gaining publicity. Most of the songs that people will hear come from what these stations are promoting. Radio plays are crucial for an artist’s success. When their music isn’t rotated as frequently as they should, they probably won’t be noticed. If radios don’t work, they turn to the night club DJs.
They, too, are a problem because they charge a ridiculous amount of money just to play local music but will play international music for free. The irony, huh? Jesus was right when he said you are never welcome in your hometown. The same also goes to the promoters in the industry. They also make ridiculous claims when it comes to local music but will pay an arm and a leg to bring an American rapper.
Just the other day, DJ Pinye, gave an interview at NRG Radio where he said he couldn’t play Ethic’s music which he considered mediocre. This angered many Kenyans and they took to Twitter to give him a piece of their mind. To be honest, he had a point on one side and also made a mistake on the other. DJ Pinye has had multiple cases where he turned down several upcoming artists’ work with the most notable being Khaligraph Jones. Look at him now. It is crazy not to give everyone an equal chance to break out as a sensation. On the other hand, we have to also look at the quality.
The quality really is mediocre at best
It’s funny what passes to be a hit in Kenya. They are barely good songs. Let’s have a look at some. Position, Lamba Lolo, Bora Uhai, Dundaing, Whine Fi Me. These are mediocre songs at best. Some are terrible actually. I hate Lamba Lolo. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not hating on their rise to success, I’m just calling a spade a spade.
In my Eastlando Royalty Review, I mention how Dundaing is the weakest song of the album compared to the other songs (which are great). It’s funny how the dumbest song is the most popular. They even made a fuss about it being played in an NBA game and they call it quality music. Wow. But, there is something to be realized in all of this.
What people like
The blame ultimately falls to the audience. It seems that people like listening to dumb shit. only Kenyans will love and praise Lamba Lolo. To critics, it’s a worrying sign. I remember saying about how the feeling matters when it comes to music. I just don’t get it with this one.
This is a pure case of a false negative. You don’t expect it to be anything significant because of the content offered but it instead becomes a viral sensation. What about the good music? They become false positives; you expect it to do well but it fails miserably.
Should I be complaining about people’s tastes? No. The truth is that what people like says more about them than it says about me. Again, don’t get me wrong; I have my share of weird music. I guess we can call it even.
2018 has been a great year for Kenyan Music. I am excited to see what people have to offer next year. Maybe an Elani album? Khaligraph Jones and the gang album? I don’t know. I’ll just have to wait and see.