Is it only Wednesday? The week is just flying by.In no time we shall be celebrating Christmas and in no time it shall be January.
Anyway,today I shall be exploring a genre of music that you can’t put in a box.‘The definition of alternative music is’ an umbrella term used to describe music that is not played on mainstream radio or consumed by the mainstream audience, or whose music does not fall into any other genre.’
Now I know that Kenyans are a special audience,they may hate you before they love you especially if you are something new and unfamiliar.We Kenyans love persistence so stick at it if this is the path you choose.Today we shall talk a bit about those who dared to tread the less trodden path and in the same breath help you revamp your Kenyan playlist.
Just A Band-This band has earned its stripes.They have been in the game for a long time and I first heard of them from a friend of mine who told me about their event in 2009-Techno Sufurias,back when they used to play free gigs.Now to hear them play you need to travel to exclusive venues and pay good money at their events.That’s a good thing.I am glad they stuck it out and eventually got the recognition they deserved with Ha-he(Makmende).They describe themselves as an African electro-pop and visual arts collective.If that’s not interesting to you ,I don’t know what is.
Bands to watch
Mankind-They are a group of 6 inclusive of their manager and producer.They have 2 songs under their belt North and Dark Skin.Their sound had me thinking I was listening to One Republic.They want their music to transcend all genres and boundaries and they want to win a Grammy.I really hope they do.
Yellow Light Machine-This is a diverse group of individuals who define their sound as eclectic and they fuse jazz, funk, blues, indie, lingala, afro-fusion, reggae, pop, rock, hip hop and RnB.For me the coolest bit about this band is that their drummer is a girl.You don’t see many of those around this neck of the woods.
Also check out:KIU,Cosmic Homies,Third Hand Music
Maia von Lekow-If I were to describe her as food I would call her pilau (a rice dish from the Kenyan coast).Apart from her very exotic looks her music is a fusion of ‘jazz, funk, folk & blues all sprinkled with swahili spice.’Her music is very chilled out,and I would listen to this laying in a hammock,reading a book and sipping on a cocktail.
Her song ‘Uko wapi’ won an award for Best Soundtrack in the African Movie Academy Award for the film From A Whisper and her self-titled EP has appeared on Warner Poland’s Ladies’ Jazz Album Vol 6.Not too shabby,eh?
Artists to watch
Mayonde-I find it hard to talk about her because I have a girl crush on her.However from her days as Dee,she has been consistent in her growth,growing more confident with her vocal ability and that has led to the release of her first album Magic in the Air.Her sound is very dreamy,other worldly and yet still calming.She is also learning to play the guitar to complement that beautiful voice of hers.Go for any of her performances,I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Prisca Ojwang-Prisca is a winner because ever since I heard of her she has always done music be it in school,church,plays,singing back up for her friends and now having her own successful concerts.She sounds like chocolate,and looks like it to.It is difficult to find someone her age who writes so maturely and the song Lies I told me is evidence of this.I love the song Elusive Baby sounds like disco and jazz just had a baby.
Singers to watch :Karun,Lisa Oduor Noah
Jaaz Odongo-Love that name.Love how it sounds.Jaaz knows how to make the beats work for any song.He has an ear for hits and that is why Fena was nominated as Best Kenyan Female Artist in the Kenya Buzz Awards.EDM is not my favourite genre but he manages to make it enjoyable for anyone.Remember Brikicho?He can fuse different styles together(hip hop and R’n’B) and still come up with magic.Coke Studio Season 3 is evidence of that.He is also the genius behind tracks like Kato’s African Woman.Enough said.
Kagwe Mungai-Did you know that he was the producer behind Sauti Sol’s Nishike?No,well he is and not yet even 25.Kagwe and Jaaz work closely together but as a producer Kagwe dwells more on tracks that you can dance to.He can play instruments,sing,rap and still put together a dope track.Listen to the songs Dutch and Creeper to see what I mean.Oh and he calls his sound Afro-Kagwe.
Producers to watch
Jim Chuchu-now I know I haven’t exclusively come across a track done just by him but this guy legit has skills.Those melodies and harmonies you heard in Just A Band songs are him.Oh and I discovered his cover to the song Shauri Yako.He did the rearrangement and vocals.Listen to it.Now.
Blinky Bill-By now I hope you are aware that in Just A Band they did everything themselves.The album covers,the musical arrangements and yes the producing.Blinky Bill has been doing some really cool stuff as a solo artist,Dj and producer.I discovered he did Dee’s (now Mayonde)song Too Good.He recently did Octopizzo’s Something for You as the Audio Producer.
This list could be longer .Perhaps you could let me know who you wanted on this list:)