Imagine there is this event that you have been dying to go to,very exclusive.You have a friend who knows people(we all have that one friend) and you tag along trusting that your entry will be taken care of.When you get there you are many such people waiting to get in through the door.You look resigned to your fate and tell yourself you won’t make it.Suddenly there is commotion from the back and you all turn to see who it is.You have seen her on TV,magazines,newspapers.She is looking fabulous and is accompanied by her own posse.Before she even gets to the front the velvet rope has been lifted as the bouncer ushers her and her people in warmly.She didn’t even have to show any ID,ticket,money nothing!You are all transfixed for a brief moment before recalling that you are on the other side of the velvet rope.It starts raining.The bouncers tell you that if you are not on the list it’s time to go home .Ladies and gentlemen you are in a posh neighborhood where matatus are for the workers and they close shop at 7pm.It is 8pm.You do not have enough to hire a cab and so you resolve to share the cost with 5 other people to at least get to town.

At the back seat as you kaa square you wonder how come she got in?It was an event so exclusive you could only get in with a special card.She had nothing…so did you and yet there she is sipping on wine and here you are at the back of a taxi with some guy giving you a funny team mafisi side eye.The answer my friend lies in branding.Your brand can land you endorsement deals,entry to exclusive events and favours such as clothes,shoes…whatever your heart desires.

Branding to put it simply is packaging yourself to be perceived a certain way by people.It is creating an image in people’s mind of who you are and what you believe in. 8-4-4 taught us that examples are the key to understanding.So when you think of Nameless what pops up?Dreadlocks,shades,legend,Ogopa,husband to Wahu,father…etc.When you think of Nazizi?Necessary Noize,rasta,MC,mother…you get my drift?

So why is it important to brand oneself as an artist?Simply because you want to be remembered.Every artist wants their work to speak for them and live on beyond them.If you are an artist of any kind and you are doing it  only for the cash then you are now a businessman.

Creating a brand is the difference between mediocrity and success.Take for example Abbas and Octopizzo.Abbas has been doing hip hop since the early 2000s starting off with a group in the year 2001 before branching out as an individual in 2005.He is known for being a bad boy,heartbreaker,perhaps drug dependent(if you look at his eyes) but also a really dope MC.Octopizzo broke into the limelight in the year 2008 with a mixtape S.O.N. which is touted as the best selling mixtape in Kenyan hip hop artistry.He is known for being an artiste(not just an MC),an ambassador for various causes,an entrepeneur,father to  Tracy and also a proud product of Kibera.

In Swahili there is a proverb that says Kutangulia si kufika which means that just because you were the first doesn’t mean you will make it.Abbas has had more downs than ups yet he has been in the industry longer.He has been plagued by beef and scandals here and there that have lost him the credibility he worked so hard to establish.Octopizzo on the other hand came in with a strategy so rock solid that he now has an album LDPC on Itunes.Oh did I mention it was number 1 followed by Dr.Dre’s Compton…both of these artistes have websites and it is obvious who is putting in more work.

Let’s go to the ladies shall we?Take Karun(formerly of Camp Mulla) and Amani(Ogopa stable).Karun wanted to create a new image of herself not just that of Camp Mulla’s hot sexy vocalist.So she worked together with a team and documented the journey of her album in the documentary-The Ladybug Project.Now if you search Karun what comes up are songs from her album ,her interviews and her videos.Amani who should be known as the queen of R’n’B has been in the game since the year 2000.She is known for producing love ballads and dance tracks but after disappearing for a year or more.I guess in her defense she would say she worked harder in her younger years so now her music is paying her back but I guess no one told her that the internet is your best friend and your worst enemy.If in one year you haven’t produced any song,no concerts,interviews nothing at all I will move on to the Avrils of this world and slowly just like that you lose a fan.

This is such a heavy topic that involves everything from social media presence to image consultancy.Eg:Kansoul I love you but you have to stop looking like a bunch of teenage boys who just threw on whatever cool clothes you could find to shoot your videos.Timmy Tdat stop wearing vests.Stylists work wonders.Just look at Sauti Sol.Female Mcees from certain labels look ratchet with coloured weaves,piercings.You are dressed in heels but you are still walking around like a boy in the hood.Please refer to Wangechi on how she has embraced her femininity and still gains respect for her craft.

Well these are my thoughts on this matter.What say you?





  1. 🙂 cool one Red. I just think that priorities matter. Abbas vs Octopizzo, id say they both are amazing artist (not just rappers) and as far as im concerned, Octo was hugely inspired by Abbas considering the fact that #KSOUTH’s #Nairobism and #Niroberry are still some of the best Kenyan hip hop albums-and they came a decade before octopizzo came around.
    Back to priorities, im defending Abbas because he’s real hardcore. He’s like anyone from N.W.A and someone like Moroko is exactly the same. Only that they dont seem to me like they’ve ever wished to work for UN or any big money machine charity. Maybe they do, but our society and the BIG Brother around here wants us all to behave, look and talk like Americans. So basically, its in my opinion something similar to selling your soul vs keeping it.

    Karun and Amani, good but wrong comparison because they existed in different errors plus other things like family support and responsibilities. Also, culturally speaking, Amani has had a bigger impact on Kenya-not because she started singing in the KANU error, but because those ghetto chicks with piercings and coloured weaves relate more with her.

    But branding is key…and life goes on.


    • Oh my goodness thank you so much for your thoughts.Yes I do agree that the new artists gained their taste and style from the older generation but right now the name of the game is remaining relevant.Look at Eric,Atemi,Nameless…my point is they have evolved and gained respect.They hold concerts,are judges on music TV shows,perform for dignitaries and at the end of the day in this industry you need to remain visible and if you choose to keep a low profile then evolve such that when you get back you have something to suprise us with.Perfect example Adele,she’s back like she never left and has managed with 1 song to create enough hype for her album…but thank you for your thoughts.Very appreciated.


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