It’s now official.
The Kenyan hip hop scene has become of age. The present hip hop artist generation are out on the street, outdoing themselves with unbelievable, never-before-seen talent. We have finally found a signature beat that solely speaks and identifies as Kenyan Hip Hop.
Wikipedia, on Hip Hop: “…stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhymic speech that is chanted. It’s defined by four key stylistic elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching with turntables, breakdancing and graffiti writing….”
Present day Kenyan hip hop outfits have perfected the art of sampling beats or bass lines from records (or synthesized beats and sounds), and rhythmic beat-boxing.
Ethic Entertainment, Ochungulo Family, Boondocks Gang, KRG The Don, Magix Enga…….
*This list is not conclusive. It stars in a great extent, other equally talented outfits.
This new sound didn’t debut with the Z-generation artists. They have gone on to perfect the sound that debuted with the Nairobi club-banger by the artists Mayonde and Stonie Jiwe. The track was a huge success.
A few months back, Ethic broke out with a catchy, infectious track, tagged Pandana. That track received an instant stamp of approval by fans – who outdid themselves uploading short dance videos. More favorites followed in quick succession:
Na Iwake, by Ochungulo Family, that stars the amazingly talented Nelly The Goon and Benzema.
Rieng, a punchy rhyming track popular on the party scene, by Boondocks Gang.
Wabebe, by Gwaash ft. 34GVNG.
Amongst other awesome releases (it’s hard to keep up).
What greatly resonates with this new hip hop style is that the artists and their producers haven’t over-hyped the genre with an exotic, upper class feel that’s common with the older generation hip hop artists. The videos aren’t shot in upscale neighborhoods with heated swimming pools as a back drop, but in mid-level suburb streets – Dagoretti, Doonholm, Githurai and the ilk.
The cast do not break the bank dressing in Gucci and Armani. They do not use expensive jewelry and unrealistic, hired video vixens – madem wa mtaa wako tu sawa. Teens across the country appreciate and connect with this!
In the USA, that’s exactly how hip hop started in The Bronx, and became a revolution.
The only case of extravagance in a video appears on Mathogothanio by KRG The Don and Boondocks. The video has rides not for the everyday kid, up and including a Ford Mustang 2017 model (they are forgiven – it’s a huge track with awesome beat flow and seamless rap).
Self-appointed moral policemen would be quick to trash the new generation Kenyan hip hop music as ratchet level, vulgar and unsuitable for the average teen. It’d be wise to remember we, read millennials, have grown up on a dirty staple of American rap: Lil Wayne, T.I, Future, et al. These rappers are the real definition of dirty and vulgar. The real problem is that with Kenyan artists, you get to hear the actual lyrics.
Message? Be real, support your own.
In videos, videos, observe some restraint: Thou shall not have a dancer twerking seductively in the national flag. (The Na Iwake video).
Keep up the spirit. Let’s make this signature style truly Kenyan.
July 1, 2020