Quick disclaimer: This is not me hating on the fast-growing sub-genre Gengetone. It is a concern for the future of its artists in the next five years or so. I’m not even going to talk about my displeasure with the songs themselves, I’ll just point out why their current success now won’t matter tomorrow.
The very premise of Gengetone
If you read my rant about the Kenyan music industry, you know how I feel about Gengetone. The quality of the music is rather lackluster and what they have going is just the artists talking about girls and parties. They make songs like Mboko Haram and Figa to be played in the clubs. Speaking of Figa, did anyone notice that Ethic took down the song because of copyright infringement? I feel like I should be smug about this because I did mention they copied another song’s beats and they didn’t give any credit.
Back to the topic at hand. It is evident that Gengetone isn’t that exploitable for the near future. Don’t take my word for it, Nairobi News knows it too. I actually like how they say that artists like Ethic Entertainment and Boondocks Gang do not make songs for the African market but rather for “those friends and friends of friends who happened to show up during their first video shoot”.
Is it safe to say that they are doing it for 15 minutes of fame? Who knows? All I know is that Gengetone won’t survive much longer if the premise is to just be viral for a certain period of time. Btw, can we stop saying Wamlambez everywhere? It was fun at first now it is getting annoying.
The sub-genre is unmarketable
I like how people complain on Twitter about why we tend to praise Nigerian and Bongo music over local music. There is a good reason for that; the older generation. Here’s the thing, artists can’t bank their success with the young demographic? Why? Because they are a volatile group. They might like your song today and cancel you the very next day.
What’s interesting about the older demographic is that they will be more inclined to listen to it provided they get the right exposure. And by exposure, I mean that the uptown market allows the songs to get to them. This is why you find almost every guy above 35 knowing about Nyashinski and Sauti Sol but have no clue who Boondocks Gang is.
Who, then, regulates the exposure? Maina Kageni serves as a good example. He will market the living hell out of a Diamond Platnumz song because it is marketable. You can’t say the same for Wamlambez. You might be telling yourself that Sailors and the likes deserve the support but please bear in mind the premise of Gengetone. The older generation is not so concerned about drugs or women twerking.
Too explicit for TV
This is where Gengetone artists shoot themselves in the foot. These live music shows on TVs usually have a hard time playing the songs because of their explicit nature; be it the music video or the lyrical content. This makes it harder for media corporations to allow such songs to be played on-air despite viral support.
Should they consider making sane videos? Duh. I honestly don’t care how many ladies these artists can get to twerk in these videos, but they should make it PG enough to make it marketable. Besides, the music itself is a business; if it isn’t marketable, consider yourself a joke.
Those are simply my views. Let me know what you think about this in the comments section below.