We’ve heard it all; East Coast vs. West Coast which is probably the greatest rivalry in Hip Hop to date. Rivalry so bad it ended with the death of two of the most influential Hip Hop artists; Pac and Biggie.
Closer home, we’re not having any gun talk in the music (well, for the most part) and those who are talking pieces are just… how do we say this? Lying?
Urban Hip Hop is really taking form in Kenya and for this we got to analyze 2 of the biggest and hottest hoods on the outskirts of Nairobi with an incredible line up of talented artists: 125 Vs. Theqa Theqa.
Make no mistake. Just like you, I know the spelling is “Thika” but CMG (Change Making Group) championed by D’jungle and Deniro have made “Theqa” an actual thing since the release of their joint project, Theqa Theqa Tape in 2016. They also just released the documentary behind the tape which you can check out on You Tube. Both hailing from Thika town, they’re known for their fan fave record ‘Mbichwa Tu’ a single off the THC mixtape. They have both expanded their circles and worked with various artists over time.
CMG started in August 2012 with their official debut track “254 United”. Founded by Superprodusir and Lox de Chiz, the studio is located on the Ruiru bypass, just behind Gulf Petrol station, “The group works on the basis of bringing each artist out as a unique individual and combining these unique individuals to make a collaborative feel in to their music.” Says Superprodusir. Since its inception, 254CMG has grown to be a community of different artists from different backgrounds and as a collective is known to bring the best of Hip Hop performances everywhere they go. They embrace one love and family which is the stronghold of their growth. CMG is a one man army in that it has everyone you could possibly need to elevate your career. From photographers, videographers, producers to graphic designers, they got you for anything you may need if your money is right.
Superprodusir is more than just an excellent producer. He writes music, can sing and he is also a rapper. With hits like “25” (ft. Kevin Grands) getting its fair share of spins on air and a couple of “daps” online, a track he produced himself, the world would definitely be a better place with more music from Superprodusir!
D’jungle and Deniro aren’t the only artists signed to the label though. Phoolish Buoy, MADE, Tess, Lox de Chiz, 67Karatz, Stin, B3NZONIT and Kid Willy are also signed to the label.
Kid Willy burst into the music scene with a banger of a tune called “New Born E-Sir” featuring the beautiful vocals of Kanana and a sample of E-Sir’s tune “Hamnitishi”. While he received more positive than negative feedback where most pointed out that he was using E-Sir’s name to elevate himself, he stood his ground and explained that he only wanted to praise the late E-Sir because he was a huge inspiration to him. He’s had a number of songs on rotation such as “Hapan Tambua” and Boom Boom featuring Lockwood which is his latest release. When Kid Willy isn’t making music, he’s playing it. Catch him DJing at your favorite club in the CBD and dance the night away!
254CMG also has a sub-label B3NZONIT Music which also has its artists like Kane, Nate and Wamae who are part of the Shrap (Sheng+Trap) Music movement among other new talents yet to be unveiled.
As a squad, the group has performed at various venues mostly in Nairobi some being The Carnivore Simba Saloon, Industry Nite, The Kenya National Theatre for the Pamoja Amani Upendo Festival advocating for Peace, Love and Unity, Sarakasi Dome for Hip Hop Hookup, Alliance Francaise for The E&A Fashion event and were part of hosting a charity event “Bring Joy Back Home” to help raise awareness and fight human trafficking in Kenya. They have also performed in various clubs and restaurants like The Mist Lounge, Ruiru Rainbow Resort, Tribeka Lounge and I-Club Nairobi.
Forget about distance. Rongai has slowly come to prove over time that it is THE place to go to if you want good vibes, if you wanna grab a cold drink and if you’re with the new school wave, get to Rongai and start off your music career instantly. You probably know Rongai as that far away place with rally dope rides. That’s not everything to it though. Rongai is “The Talent Hub” and it boasts of some of the hottest talents in Kenya. Industry heavyweights such as Bien-aime, Chiwawa, Didge, 125, Xtatic, Timmy TDat, Eko Dyda, GKon have all had a taste of the Rongai lifestyle by residing there at one point of their lives or by still residing there.
However, while old is gold, it seems that there is a crop of upcoming artists who are really working on their craft just waiting to get noticed and then finally, they can make money off their art, hopefully. There are also more than enough labels to cater for any artists needs. Callivan, ID37 and Urban Scorch all have equipment that’s up to par, with skilled producers such as Ivan Odie, Shatzy K and Sir Chach respectively. These aren’t the only labels though, there’s also Strictly Black Music (SBM).
Not entirely a group of artists or one label with all these artists, check out some of the artists from 125 that you definitely need to get on your playlist.
Shukid is a Hip Hop artist under his independent label 1D37, of which he is also a co-founder of alongside Kevin Grands and Kavuela. His name actually means “Shujaa Kid”, a term that he coined while living abroad with the assistance of his parents. Originally not a “Rongaian”, Shu, as he is also commonly referred to as, slowly got sucked into the lifestyle partly because of his campus days at MMU, friends and ID37 Music. He has had more than one song on Capital FM’s Countdown “Top 9 at 9” on Hits Not Homework and on Homeboyz Radio’s Power Hour Countdown. From Say What You Want, One Day (ft. Ace Tha Don and Jinx), Day One Psykotic (ft. Rosa) have been on either of the countdowns, sometimes maintaining the top spot for weeks on end. He acknowledges One Day (from his Gods Speed EP) as the track that gave him that buzz from the media and popularity with fans as it was the first number one record he ever had. To find out more about him and his music, you can check out his You Tube channel under his name.
Ace Tha Don
Call him Ace Tha Don or Don of The Bi’ness (gotta make that swaggy), Kronos, The Bar God or any other name, Ace is not only a very talented rapper, he’s also a skilled song writer and radio presenter as well on Kace and Ace (Unverified Radio).
Just like Shukid, he has held the number one spot on various countdowns on local radio stations. Recognized by the government as Curtis Omega, Ace Tha Don is fearless when it comes to spitting bars and taking shots at fellow rappers. In fact, one might think that he lives for it because he knows he can take on anyone in the industry.
A while back he released “Light Work” (produced by Kevin Grands), a shot aimed at Octopizzo when he said Hip Hop is dead in Kenya and he dragged rappers for not putting in work. Ace Tha Don’s single “Night Life”(feat Shukid and Sydney 125) created quite a stir because of the visuals, which some people thought to be too “steamy” for lack of a better word while others thought it was refreshing to hear Ace on a party song. It’s off his latest mixtape, Bars 101.
Relatively still a newbie in the game, all Baller had to do was drop a hot verse on Uneek’s track, That’s My Word and the rest, as they say, is history! Besides being a Hip Hop artist, Baller is also a producer under his independent label Strictly Black Music which also has other talented rappers such as Dope Boy and Hoody OG.
On what his plan is as far as releasing music and taking over the scene, Baller says that he’s planning to release music overtime because he’s working on a project set to be released soon.
Other artists who represent Rongai to the fullest are Profit Gang, Tunji, Fifi Mild, Pascal Tokodi and Jivu whose track Form Ni Gani, produced by Dillie (ft. Sydney 125) is really dope!
Special mention to 125, the crew of 3 who have been in the game for quite a while and are still making waves in the scene. They recently released Vicheche featuring Didge for all the lovers “ndani ya nyumba”.
Whether it’s Rongai or Theqa Theqa that’s got the sauce, one thing is for certain. The future of Kenyan music is in good hands.