Hey there, music enthusiasts! Get ready to elevate your playlist with the latest tracks from Kenya, all thanks to the exciting partnership between Kenyan Vibe and Kapuka Kulture. This week, we’re diving into the releases of some incredible artists that we’ve explored right here in our chat. From the infectious energy of Ethic Entertainment’s “Kunoma” to the soulful melodies of Analo’s “Stay That Way,” we’re covering a diverse range of sounds. Don’t miss Asum Garvey and Jodye’s lyrical prowess in “Exorcist,” Xenia’s enchanting “Niambie,” and CVPO’s unique perspective in “ZIMENYC.” Our weekly listicle is your passport to the freshest Kenyan music, so let’s dive into these fantastic tracks!
Ethic Entertainment’s latest offering, “Kunoma,”marks the start of a new chapter for the group that are considered the founders of the Gengetone sound.After the surprising expulsion of Rekles earlier this week, the release of this number confirms that decision. “Kunoma” carries profound themes that resonate deeply with Kenya’s disheartened youth. The song serves as a protest anthem, mirroring the prevailing state of joblessness and employment crisis. “Shule nimesoma, Mungu nimeomba, kazi nimesaka, wengi nimehonga,” Zilla’s opening verse lays bare the harsh reality of exploitation in the face of unemployment.
In a country where deceitful schemes prey on parents’ aspirations for their children, “Kunoma” is a poignant cry for justice. The title itself, translating to “things are hard,” underscores the sheer apathy engulfing the youth. Education and faith, as the chorus hints, provide little solace. Swat’s verse paints a bleak picture, likening the situation to the blind leading those with sight. Sleep becomes a precious commodity for the unemployed.
The production of “Kunoma” is a testament to Ethic’s versatility. Crafted by Vic West and Brimm of Black Market Records, the beat embraces reggaeton influences while subtly deconstructing Ethic’s signature sound. The drumming patterns, akin to gengetone and reggaeton, inject a bouncy rhythm. However, instead of jarring 808 drops, trap elements are woven seamlessly, aligning with the song’s somber tone. An intermittent flute, delicately looped, fills the gaps, adding depth and texture to the composition.
Beyond its musical prowess, “Kunoma” signifies Ethic’s commitment to a new chapter. Despite Rekles’ departure and previous allegations of vulgarity, the group emerges cleaner, using their platform for a more profound purpose. The song serves as a beacon for radio play, urging the youth to confront political and economic challenges that are crippling their dreams. Ethic Entertainment, born from Umoja Estate’s humble beginnings, now invites listeners to join them in this introspective journey, reminding Kenya’s youth that their voices can drive change.
Stay That Way- Analo Kanga
Analo Kanga, the enchanting Afro-jazz pop star, saxophonist, and vocalist, makes a triumphant return with her latest single, “Stay That Way.” This captivating track is a testament to the belief placed in her unique sound by the Sol Generation Publishing and Sol Generation Records team. Analo Kanga’s musical journey, which includes her scholarship from the nonprofit organization ‘We Are Moving The Needle’ and her studies at the Los Angeles Academy for Artists and Music Production, has molded her into a versatile and charismatic artist.
“Stay That Way” invites listeners on a heartfelt exploration of love, drawing from Analo’s personal experiences and African heritage. Through poetic lyrics like “I like the little smile on your face” and metaphors like “anameremeta” (shining star), she paints a vivid picture of love as a natural and beautiful force, warm like the sun and associated with life like trees. This song, part of her upcoming debut EP “ANALOGIES,” exudes simplicity and authenticity, inspiring a pure and heartfelt embrace of love.
The production of “Stay That Way” demonstrates Analo Kanga’s remarkable versatility as both an African jazz musician and a pop star. Australian producer Jarod Azoor lends his expertise to create a captivating blend of soulful saxophone melodies and heartfelt vocals. The arrangement, with its keyboard and synthesizer, takes on a studio production feel, while the saxophone steals the spotlight, alternating between blending seamlessly and standing out virtuosically. The rhythm, influenced by R&B and enhanced by African drums, forms a perfect backdrop for Analo’s raw emotion and deep passion.
This beautifully crafted song, with its catchy lyrics and uplifting tone, is poised to become a radio favorite. It also finds its place in jazz clubs and similar settings, offering a calming and mood-enhancing experience. Analo Kanga’s ability to connect with her audience on a profound level is evident in every note of “Stay That Way,” solidifying her status as a charismatic and deeply talented artist, ready to make waves in the music industry once more.
Niambie- Xenia Manasseh
Xenia Manasseh’s “Niambie” is a soul-stirring R&B ballad that navigates the tumultuous waters of love and uncertainty. The song’s core message, encapsulated in the line “kabla upate nishakuwa na mwingine” (before you find me with someone else), presents an ultimatum from a persona facing a relationship crisis. The free verse structure, with the same phrases forming both the hook and the verse, reflects a post-structuralist sensibility that prioritizes function over form.
As “Niambie” unfolds, it becomes apparent that the song isn’t just a rhetorical statement but a heartfelt plea born from a place of desire for things to work. Lines like “contemplating my decision” and the refrain “staki kujua mwingine” (I don’t want to know about someone else) reveal the inner turmoil of the persona, torn between holding on and letting go. The repeated line “niambie ni mimi”at the song’s end underscores the singer’s longing for certainty in the relationship, adding a layer of vulnerability to the narrative.
In terms of production, Xenia Manasseh’s trusted collaborator, Mombru, crafts an acoustic soundscape with a live guitar leading the melody. The interplay of drums, including a light hand drum, and electronic elements like 808 hi-hats and synthesizers creates a dynamic yet minimalist backdrop. Vocal layering takes center stage, delicately portraying the persona’s dilemma with vulnerability rather than forcefulness. “Niambie” is a song for R&B aficionados, a heartfelt exploration of love’s complexities. It’s a key piece in Xenia Manasseh’s “Love/Hate Pt. 1” album, a project that promises to delve deep into the intricate and contradictory nature of love, offering a beautifully curated soundscape rich in soul and feeling.
CVPO, a Mathare-born experimentalist, songwriter, and mix engineer, brings a fresh perspective to the Kenyan music scene with “ZIMENYC.” His eclectic influences from the likes of E-sir, JuaCali, and Octopizzo drive his mission to carve out a unique sound. With this track, he offers a glimpse into his artistic journey, celebrating the use of controlled substances as part of his creative routine.
“ZIMENYC” unfolds as a tribute to artists who find solace in substances before taking the stage. CVPO takes the listener through his pre-performance ritual, painting a picture of anticipation and excitement. The hook line, “zangu zimeshika zimehold, I jus might pop up at a show,” sets the stage for his routine. He treasures this process, and the high he experiences during a performance is unmatched. His lyrics radiate ambition, expressing a desire to tour the world, earn handsomely for his talents, and perform to sold-out crowds. It’s a radical call for embracing freedom and ambition.
In terms of production, the collaboration with international producer Marco Alex is noteworthy. The guitar-heavy melody, complemented by high-pitched flute loops and expertly introduced sampling, gives the instrumental a dynamic quality. The trap-inspired drum patterns, enhanced to match the acoustic nature of the guitar, create a captivating sonic backdrop. CVPO’s choice to work with an R&B producer like Marco Alex adds a unique dimension to the song, blending genres and elevating its appeal. “ZIMENYC” represents the exhilaration artists feel when they see their creations come to life and find their space in the world. It’s not just a song; it’s a testament to artistic passion and ambition, underpinned by a smooth and relaxing mix that stands out in the music landscape.
Exorcist- Asum Garvey featuring Jodye Faneto
“Exorcist” is an intriguing dive into the depths of the human psyche, a dark-themed ballad that delves into the complexity of creative forces within. Asum Garvey and Jodye Faneto, both known for their lyrical prowess, come together in this unexpected collaboration to create a gem that leaves their fans craving for more. The song plays with the metaphor of “demons” representing creativity, never settling on a single interpretation, much like the ever-evolving rap game itself.
The hook, with its plea for an exorcist to banish these creative demons,”I need an exorcist,these demons tryna peek,” juxtaposed with the acknowledgment that this relentless pursuit of artistry is like a spellbinding witchcraft that keeps them awake,”kama mchawi I don’t sleep,” showcases the dual nature of their outlook. Asum’s verse takes on a persona of mental turmoil, comparing his words to a broken bell that has drained him, while contemplating the pursuit of a happier life outside of rap. Jodye’s verse hits hard,and the line, “still na-fight demons, si sleep zinapick, washaingisha baridi na bado sijafika peak,”is definitely a memorable one.He addresses incarceration and mental health struggles as he fights these demons while striving for success. The reference to “mamorio wa mine hukuwa dead” cleverly critiques police brutality while highlighting his dedication to financial improvement.
In the realm of production, Luigi’s mastery shines through. The instrumental weaves a web of intrigue, with a soft, high-pitched flute loop and a synthesized keyboard adding an ominous touch. The deliberate slowdown of the traditional trap 808 patterns adds to the song’s unique atmosphere. The result is a chill yet ominous backdrop that perfectly complements the lyrical complexity. “Exorcist” is a treat for hip-hop enthusiasts, a showcase of lyrical finesse and creative production that pushes boundaries. However, it’s advised to skip it during family gatherings with overtly religious relatives, as its dark themes might not resonate with everyone.