H_ART THE BAND was formed towards the end of 2012 and has 3 members: Mordecai Kimeu,Kenneth Muya and Wachira Gatama.They all met at the famous Kenya National Theatre(KNT)at an audition for a theatre show where Mordecai was in the audition panel.The three discovered that they shared a similar passion for music, spoken word/poetry, comedy, dance, fashion and generally, life. On the 22nd of February 2013, the three performed together for the first time at Dass Ethiopian restaurant and, H_ART the BAND was born.With both Mordecai and Wachira having been crowned “Slam Africa Kings”, H_ART’s music is heavily inspired by spoken word poetry.(Slam Africa is an event where poets and spoken word artists battle each other to clinch the title of King or as I would say wordsmith.)(Source:www.kenyanpoet.com)
They call their style of music Afro poetry and if you listen to their music you will not fail to notice how important poetry is to their work.I insist that any band that can play their own instruments has a huge advantage over those that have to keep hiring people.Kenneth Muya (Kenchez) is a self taught guitarist and that adds to the richness of their sound.They have managed to build on each other’s strengths:the singer,(Mordecai)the poet(Wachira) and the guitarist(Kenneth aka Kenchez).They are managed by Penya Africa and are an alumni of Sauti Academy.They have released 4 songs to date their first song ‘Uliza Kiatu’ which is a crowd favourite,Nikikutazama,Love Phobic and Baby Love.
With that small background info on them let’s get into their newest release Baby Love.It is a very playful track that will definitely get you dancing and doing silly things that you haven’t in a while.Baby Love is a love song that takes us 90s babies back to our childhood songs and games.
As a Kenyan if you have ever listened to Kamba music just by closing your eyes you can instantly here that really fast guitar that is associated with this particular community.Considering how playful this track is it really does work wonders for the song.The first lines of the first verse is a common song that toddlers learn in school’ ‘I wake up in the morning,I wash my face,I brush my teeth and then instead of ‘I comb my hair’ its ‘i lock my hair’ (see what they did there).The rest of the song usually goes ‘I take a cup of tea and I go to school”.For them its’I take cup of tea and she’s there next to me.’If you did not know that this was a love song then that is the clue(or as a scriptwriter-the inciting incident,hehe!)
Mordecai’s verse’By shot I love you baby,my baby and my son,and I will be your owner,your owner and your man’ stole my heart.All girls and maybe some boys have played this game and trust me the lyrics of the original never made sense but this guy transformed it into something beautiful.Wachira swoops in with the poetry’…she makes me wanna lie her down,Sleeping beauty,dwarf her with my love,kiss her love her till she turns blue,my imaginary friend..’I will just leave it here and wait for you to see the utter GENIUS that this guy used in his verse.Listen to ALL of it.
Then there are the parts that you will find yourself responding to..’oringo…bayoyo’,’brikicho…banture’.Man,this brings back breaktime memories.The song by this time has grown on me and I hope it grows on you too.
Now for the video.
I don’t like it.It was done by Kevin Bosco Jnr who is a well known music video director.Dear Directors,I know that artists come to you with a vision in mind but can you help them realise how best to achieve that while mainitaining your artistic integrity.Man,I see what the boys were going for-playful,fun thus translating into colour,games,props.There is a way to achieve this without hurting someone’s eyes.Please refer to Katy Perry’s earlier videos but to bring it closer home have a look at Mayonde’s Isikuti Love,Sauti Sol’s Sunny Days,Fena’s Brikicho.All these videos have clips that could help create a mental picture to create what these boys were going for.
Those colours are just so off!I mean really who was doing wardrobe?This is when you know why a production designer is important.Walls are always meant to be neutral earth colours.You cannot have a subject wearing the same colour as the walls.Your eyes unconsciously struggle with where to focus creating a distorting picture in your mind.The only way where this works is in all white and all black videos not orange green, yellow, brown,no.Don’t do it.If you are a D.P worth your salt your camera screen will tell you instantly.Then again we have many cameramen and not enough D.Ps,but I digress.
The acting is good- a bit over the top but good.It looks like it was a high energy set with grown-ups ready to throw all caution to the wind and just be kids for a while.Shout out to the teacher his name is Fish(yes that’s his real name and he was one of the gang members in Nairobi High Life-fun fact!) and he did a really good job of being one of those mtiaji teachers.I love the dancing,the band members and dancers were so in sync I couldn’t find fault with them.
In as much as the production quality was wanting there was a story here.A story of young playful love when we were still impressionable minds that had not a care in the world.Once in a while it’s good to go back to that place.Thank you boys for making me smile.
Here is the video.