Welcome dear reader to yet another edition of Crispy Fresh, a weekly column that dives deep into some of the newest Kenyan releases. In collaboration with Kapuka Kulture, we are able to give you an analysis of what makes these numbers tick and resonate with the audiences. This week, we look at new releases from Jovial, Muthaka, Kinoti, and producers Supadrum and IkeN.
We start in the realm of Bongo music, with “Naapa”, the latest offering from bonafide star Jovial. Hailing from Kenya’s coastal region, she brings a unique blend of Afro-Fusion, Zouk, and R&B to the forefront. Jovial’s melodious journey into love’s intricacies is a testament to her artistry. “Naapa” translates to “I promise” in Swahili, and the song delves into the depth of commitment. It’s more than just sweet words – it’s a symphony of vows, reminiscent of wedding promises. The chorus echoes “naapa kwa shida,” underscoring the reality that love’s path isn’t always strewn with roses. The verses hint at a spiritual connection, with the line “tukifa ni peponi, we hauna dhambi,” painting love as a sacred bond that transcends mortality.
Jovial’s vocal prowess shines as she paints her lover as faultless, a partner to journey beyond death with. The ethereal nature of their connection is subtly draped in religiosity, a theme gracefully interwoven throughout. Amidst the gentle embrace of an R&B 808 pattern, the song’s production, masterminded by Traxx, takes center stage. A symphony of keyboards and guitars forms the heart of the melody. Soft acoustic notes lay the foundation, while a more audacious electric set infuses edginess. A synthesizer bridges the guitar harmonies and infuses modernity with rapid, captivating patterns. This fusion of traditional and contemporary beats makes “Naapa” a timeless gem.
Jovial’s music isn’t just confined to airwaves; it’s become a pulse in Kenya’s music scene. Her powerful vocals and dynamic stage presence have catapulted her to live performances, her music pulsating in both clubs and radio stations. With a Pulse Music Video Award under her belt, she stands as a testament to Kenyan music’s innovation and depth. “Naapa” emerges as another jewel in her crown, poised to captivate hearts and solidify her fanbase. Jovial’s narrative isn’t just a song – it’s an enchanting journey that resonates with the young and the near-middle-aged, uniting them in the symphony of love’s promises.
Touching On My Baby- Muthaka featuring Emma Cheruto
“Touching On My Baby,” a captivating Afrobeats creation by Muthaka featuring the enchanting Emma Cheruto, serves as an unapologetic ode to possessiveness and desire. In the rhythmic embrace of AfroBeat, the song resonates with the fierce declaration, “I don’t want nobody touching on my baby.” Set within the electric ambiance of a nightclub, the narrative unfolds with two assertive personas expressing their feelings. A dance floor becomes the backdrop for a story interwoven with shades of jealousy, possessiveness, and even hints of violence, as the bridge resonates, “you better run coz I’m back with a gun.” Through candid lines like “if you think I’m going crazy then I might be ” and “I’m the one to cause trouble,” the ladies boldly stake their claim on their partners.
Muthaka, a distinguished Afrima Award-winning songwriter and performer, unveils a distinct approach to asserting ownership within relationships. Her track record, highlighted by collaborative singles and the Sunshine project, showcases her evolution since clinching the award. Collaborating with Kenyan Afropop giants like Bensoul, Brandy Maina, Chemutai Sage, and West African sensation PrayzzZ, she has etched her name onto the Afro music scene. Alongside her is Emma Cheruto, a prodigious RnB, Pop, and Soul artist. Notably appointed as the Official Music Director for Showcase ‘Engage’ at just 19, Cheruto’s vocals add an extra layer of magnetism to the song.
The musical landscape of “Touching On My Baby” is skillfully crafted by Mbugua, coupled with MG Studios’ mixing and mastering prowess. A vibrant West African rhythm, propelled by keyboard melodies and lively guitars, underpins the composition. A clever synthesis of traditional sounds with modern elements results in a seamless auditory experience. The song intertwines two drumming patterns – the weighty R&B 808’s that provide a deep groove and the rapid-paced Afrobeat patterns that infuse lightness and vitality.
Muthaka’s track not only ignites dancefloors but also sets the stage for her upcoming EP, diverging from her established style. With “Touching On My Baby,” she solidifies her status as a collaborative maestro and hitmaker, reinforcing her standing in the ever-evolving musical tapestry. This pulsating anthem resonates with the fiercely independent spirits of those who unapologetically secure their romantic territory amidst the vibrant energy of club nights.
happy ever after- Kinoti
Kinoti Kinyua, an artist and entertainment lawyer hailing from Nairobi, Kenya, paints his musical canvas with captivating rhythms and rich lyrical narratives that celebrate his African heritage. This distinctive blend of influences is showcased in his favored genres, R&B and Afro-soul. The song finds its place within his recent EP, “Little Messages,” a part of The Kindom, where Kinoti presents more than just a collection of songs; it’s a narrative, a conversation, and a tapestry of experiences.
In this heartfelt ballad, titled “happy ever after,” Kinoti’s storytelling prowess shines through. The track unfolds as an emotional journey of redemption through love, narrated by a persona initially “broken down to the core.” The persona’s salvation through love is portrayed with the poignant line, “that’s the magic of fully functional love.” When the chorus proclaims, “my happy ever after begins with you,” the weight of the opening verse adds depth to the sentiment. The bridge’s declaration, “I swear I have never been so sure of someone,” builds toward a conclusion where the persona looks forward with anticipation to the unwritten future. Kinoti’s own testimonial attests to the profound impact this creation has had on his life.
Sonically, “happy ever after” navigates a unique path. While distinct from its counterparts in the project due to its electronic production techniques, the song remains grounded by the presence of an acoustic guitar, serving as its melodious backbone. A delicate interplay of synthesizers, keyboard movements, and electric guitars creates an ethereal soundscape, mirroring the song’s themes. The drumming patterns, characterized by R&B’s characteristic heaviness and deliberate pacing, receive a touch of intimacy through the inclusion of light shakers. Kinoti’s vocals become an instrument themselves, his tenor shifting through various pitches to convey a spectrum of emotions, complemented by harmonizing background vocalists.
This tune not only finds its place on R&B playlists but also within the hearts of The Kindom, Kinoti’s devoted fanbase. Kinoti’s reputation within Nairobi’s R&B circuit is well-earned, with recent appearances at Blankets & Wine and Folk Fusion festivals. His adept storytelling and patient lyrical approach elevate the song’s power, solidifying his stature as a remarkable lyricist and performer.
IkeN’s “Tender” is a soul-stirring R&B track that delves into the beauty of vulnerability within relationships. The song’s thematic exploration revolves around the notion that embracing one’s vulnerabilities can lead to deeper connections and a more authentic experience of love. IkeN introduces this idea by ingeniously likening the minds of himself and his love interest to “blank canvases,” creating an intriguing metaphor that sets the stage for the emotional journey to unfold.
The narrative continues as IkeN pleads his case with repeated assurances that he’s “right for you.” His storytelling prowess weaves a compelling tale, drawing the listener in and emphasizing his desire for an opportunity to prove his worth. The urgency in his voice as he implores his love interest to “let down their guard” and “quit stalling” adds an emotional depth to the song’s narrative, making it easy for listeners to empathize with the persona’s yearning for a chance at love.
From a production standpoint, IkeN showcases his musical prowess as he takes on the role of producer. The song’s instrumental is a masterwork that skillfully layers elements reminiscent of American pop from the 80s and 90s. The intricate fusion of funk, psychedelia, and even a subtle nod to disco creates a mesmerizing sonic landscape. Electric guitars and a resonant bassline introduce a funky groove, while the transition into a psychedelic chorus adds a touch of ethereal enchantment to the composition. The integration of various melodies and drum patterns is seamlessly harmonized with an ever-present R&B 808 pattern, revealing IkeN’s meticulous attention to detail in maintaining musical cohesion.
IkeN’s personal background adds a layer of depth to the song’s significance. Born in Kenya and exposed to diverse cultures due to his family’s nomadic lifestyle, IkeN’s musical journey reflects his rich experiences. His classical piano training, which began at a tender age(five), laid the foundation for his musical talents. Influences of 80s icons like Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, instilled by his father, merge with the flavors of EDM and local sounds from his global sojourns. This unique blend of influences infuses “Tender” with a distinct cross-cultural resonance that resonates with a wide audience.
In essence, IkeN’s “Tender” not only captures the essence of vulnerability in relationships but also serves as a testament to his eclectic musical upbringing. Through a captivating narrative and a meticulously crafted blend of genres, IkeN creates an emotional and sonic experience that bridges cultures and speaks to the universal theme of longing and connection. This track stands as a favorite among producers, making it a gem for DJ sets, while its dance floor influences ensure its place as a groove-inducing club hit.
Overseas- Supadrum featuring Trigga Youngboy
Supadrum’s “Overseas,” featuring the gifted Trigga Youngboy, is a compelling drill track that weaves the theme of aspirational triumph through its lyrics and beats. Hailing from Mombasa, the 21-year-old Trigga Youngboy paints a vivid picture of his journey from humble beginnings to his dream of opulence. His music is a potent vessel for self-expression, evident in his razor-sharp punchlines, commanding delivery, and captivating flows, which all meld seamlessly with the dark, punchy drill beats he thrives on. His affinity for this sonic landscape is well-established through previous tracks like “Larry Madowo.”
At its core, “Overseas” is a melodic encapsulation of the desire for upward mobility. The song echoes the tension between Trigga’s challenging origins and his fervent ambition for a life of luxury. The hook’s powerful declaration, “Nairo Hadi Overseas,me ni landy nimecome na keys,” encapsulates this dichotomy, articulating the longing for grandeur beyond borders. Trigga’s verses are studded with references to pop culture icons, both international and local, creating a sense of relatability and shared aspirations.
Supadrum’s production expertise comes to the forefront in crafting the sonic landscape for “Overseas.” The instrumental resonates with a brooding aura, where an ominous keyboard arrangement underscores the composition, complemented by a looping high-pitched element and an intermittent triangle for added depth. The drill’s signature 808 patterns, imbued with a touch of trap, exude an aggressive undertone, intertwining with the lyrical narrative to amplify the song’s motivational essence.
The song’s significance is heightened by its place within Supadrum’s Artist Recording Program (ARP). This initiative, centered on artist development, spotlights emerging talents alongside established names, fostering a diverse musical landscape. “Overseas” emerges as a testament to the potential of this program, aligning with its mission to blend genres and cultures seamlessly.
Set against a backdrop that glorifies success and the determination needed to attain it, “Overseas” resonates as an anthem of grit and determination. Its infusion of aggression makes it not only an ideal workout companion but a universal motivator, tapping into the longing for achievement that transcends borders.