Hello everyone.Happy New Year.*cue in happy dance*.2015 was a really good year for Kenyan music.We saw a lot of new players throw their hats into the ring,we have seen musical experiments that have worked…and some that did not.Albums have been launched,mostly online and we have also seen comeback tracks from musical legends.Anyway let’s get to it then.
Social media-I will be the first to admit that I am not a fan of technology.However any artist worth their salt knows the power of this platform.An example that comes to mind is Kalahi she of the Kitunguu song who used Facebook,Instagram and even Whatsapp to create a buzz around the song which worked.Of course we cannot fail to recognize Sauti Sol who kept our appetites whetted with the release of their album with pictures and teasers.
Album releases-Mayonde released Magic in the Air,Kato Change released The Change Experience,Sauti Sol released Live and Die in Afrika , King Kaka released King Kaka The Legend of and Octopizzo’s LDPC were all online releases.Of course Sauti Sol had an event to follow it up but online is where all the action is at.Sites such as Mookh,Waabeh,iTunes and Mdundo had a field day as fans had to buy the tracks from these sites.Any artiste who still hasn’t figured out that this is the new frontier is missing out on making money and getting fans from beyond your borders.Plus let’s face it,it is WAY cheaper.
Songwriting-Mercy Masika’s Mwema is a few views away from hitting the 1 million mark.Yes you heard me.Why?It’s not the video.It’s not that Mercy looks extraordinary.It is the songwriting.Done by Mr. Vee this is an example of what happens when you ask for a little help.From what I understand he is now being widely sought out to work magic on other people’s songs and this is the shot in the arm his career badly needed.I hope to see more artists use songwriters to tell their stories.
Collaborations-The Kansoul is a match made in musical heaven.Bring in Nameless and you have Moto wa Kuotea Mbali which was a really good club song.Zikki the Band and Jaguar also sound really good together and for once Jaguar is not talking in the name of singing.Wangechi and Fena on their track They Don’t Know gel so well together they have me wanting more from them.Frasha,Eric Wainaina and Patoh had us dancing with Disco.MDQ got to collaborate with M.I and Khuli Chana and she still proved to be the Queen.Then of course there was Sijafika by Willy Paul,Kambua,Size 8 and Gloria Muliro.A miss.Somehow the sincerity in the song was seriously lacking.I am also not sure about Avril and Ay’s No Stress.So many things are wrong with that song.You get my drift though.It matters who you work with.
#WhoisKing-Yes this was the battle that had people choosing between Juliani,King Kaka,Khaligraph and Octopizzo’s camp.The whole idea was to see who could spit the illest bars and therefore be declared king of Hip Hop in Kenya .The whole beef took place online and there was to be a follow up event.Who won?Beats me.However it was good to get the Hip Hop scene active but I think it would have been way cooler of a battle of this calibre to have small cyphers leading up to a big one like in the good old days.
Lyric Videos-It is so difficult to find Kenyan lyrics online.However this year has seen artists make an effort to have their lyrics online.Dela with her Mafeelings track,Le band with Sweet Paradise,Kristoff,Gabu with I am so Dirunk , Kalahi with Kitunguu and Sauti Sol with Isabella.A good friend of mine Jee Kinyash of Jee Media KE has done two of the lyric videos done here and they look really good.Perhaps THE BAR should have a section for lyrics,yes?:)
Music Videos-Now I have to admit that though some songs may not be so great,the videos help.Examples are Le Band’s Sweet Paradise and Kelele Takatifu’s Itakuwa Ngori.Now instead of doing different scenes in different locations these boys decided to do a one take kind of technique where different things are happening but in one location.You save money and time and at least it’s something new.Then we have Just A Band with Winning in Life.Beautiful story.Wonderful technique and they didn’t need to spend so much money.Redsan’s Shoulder Back is so crisp and the lights department deserves a standing ovation.Really good job.Khaligraph’s Yego makes you feel gangster.Memorable videos are always a plus.
52 week project-I didn’t know how to put this so I will call it just that.Have you heard of Mercy Njoki?This singer committed to releasing a song on Soundcloud every Monday and also had video blogs which means she had a channel that had content as well.Commitment.Craziness.Take your pick.Another artist planning to do his 52 week project is Poppa Don,a hip hop artiste worth your time.
Image is everything-I try not to mention Sauti Sol but they are EVERYWHERE.It pays to have a stylist on your team.They always look so well put together.Avril also invests a lot in her look and plays up her best assets.Octopizzo looks fresh and clean in his designer brands and he makes you want to live like him.King Kaka potrays a businessman/mogul persona.Mayonde looks like a goddess and Wangechi has transformed into a true femcee.You need to look like the product that you are selling to me through your music.
Well this is more than enough,but you see where I am going with this.2015 was good but 2016 sets the bar even higher(see what I did there).We are always watching and can’t wait for new material to critique.Keep it The Bar.
Now,let’s continue with the festivities:)