It is yet another week our dearest readers! The Crispy Fresh is the one-stop destination for in-depth analysis of some of the most impactful Kenyan songs, brought to you courtesy of our partnership with Kapuka Kulture. This week we jam down with Brandy Maina, Liboi, and Masauti, as we reflect on destiny with Mombasa’s duo Double Trouble and get serenaded by the smooth Afro Jazz of Hornsphere who recruit Kinoti in one of the tracks on their debut album. Grab a pair of headphones!
ALINI BLOCK- Brandy Maina
“ALINI BLOCK,” the latest hit from Brandy Maina, masterfully delves into the realm of modern relationships, delivering an ironic tale that resonates with the uncertainties of contemporary dating. Through the lens of a young woman who finds herself unexpectedly jilted, the song embraces a sardonic twist. The persona, astonishingly shocked by being blocked and ghosted, seems to miss the irony of her own involvement in the saga. This track ingeniously captures the zeitgeist of modern romance, shining a light on the rude practice of abruptly cutting off potential partners without offering even a semblance of explanation. The other facet of the single’s story is that the lover that once blocked the persona wants to “rewind” that is come back into her life. However, at this point,as the second verse line, “promised myself to not be trusting nobody” reveals, she is now transformed into a distrusting
Produced by the illustrious SoFresh, a luminary in the Kenyan Afropop scene, the song seamlessly blends a variety of sonic styles, including R&B, Afrobeats, and Amapiano. The music unfolds like a colorful tapestry, with guitars, percussion, keyboards, and lively drums weaving together to create an Afrocentric symphony. The intricate dance of sound is further elevated by the deft use of 808 patterns. The rhythmic interplay between heavy, evenly spaced R&B patterns and lighter, rapid-frequency Afropop patterns adds a palpable tension, intensified by sporadic pulsating amapiano 808s that punctuate the chorus.
While the song’s lyrical context revolves around breakups, it is vibrant production and ironic ethos transform it into a veritable party anthem and a catalyst for the dancefloor. Brandy Maina’s reputation as a powerhouse vocalist and agile dancer reinforces the track’s soulful energy, seamlessly resonating with the audience. Her unique genre fusion of soul-hop, a concoction of Afro-Soul, Reggae, and Rap, sets her apart in a league of her own, drawing young listeners under her musical spell.
With an impressive repertoire of singles, “ALINI BLOCK” cements Brandy Maina’s position as one of the most coveted female artists in the nation. This song, alongside her other hits, propels her on a trajectory toward legendary status, as her distinctive sound and storytelling prowess continue to captivate hearts and minds alike. Embodying soul, authenticity, and a magnetic vibe, Brandy Maina’s artistry proves once again that she’s a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary music scene.
Buda Boss -Masauti
Masauti’s latest track, “Buda Boss,” doesn’t just get the party started, it slaps you right into the middle of the celebration with its edgy and aggressive undertones. The narrative unfolds through the lens of an unimpressed protagonist, who stands his ground against a fellow partygoer trying to freeload off his crew. This antagonist is directly called out, “kwenye meza yetu umevamia,” followed by the commanding chorus of “oya buda boss tembeza!” It’s a tale of asserting one’s independence, reminding us that nothing comes for free. The second verse presents rhetorical questions like “kwani form yako ni gani gathee?” which delve into themes of hard work and self-reliance. The nod to the iconic Kenyan rap classic “Unbwogable” with the phrase “who are you, what are you?” adds a nostalgic layer to this assertive party anthem. The track fits into the emerging trend of East African Amapiano, joining the ranks of other Bongo stars like Harmonize and Rayvanny who’ve recently embraced this energetic and aggressive party vibe. Masauti’s music is a mix of catchy melodies, soulful vocals, and relatable lyrics that resonate powerfully with his audience.
The production of “Buda Boss” stays true to the Amapiano genre, weaving together a tapestry of infectious beats. The song features a series of layered and looped 808 patterns that effortlessly blend into the melody and rhythm, creating an irresistible groove. Synthesized keyboards take center stage, while subtle guitars add a touch of lightness to the overall composition. The strategic use of background sounds by producer Davie transports listeners into a euphoric realm, enhancing the storytelling experience and delivering an otherworldly vibe.
Originating from Mombasa, Masauti’s music is deeply rooted in his Kenyan heritage and the vibrant Swahili culture. His unique fusion of Swahili R&B and pop genres showcases his versatility and innovation. While he’s colloquially associated with the Bongo scene, his diverse discography defies easy categorization. “Buda Boss” is another testament to his ability to captivate audiences across Kenya and East Africa, remaining at the forefront of creativity and contemporary Swahili music. So, pop those bottles and enjoy the party, just remember to pay your dues—Masauti doesn’t share his spotlight or his drinks.
Remember -Hornsphere with Kinoti
Hornsphere, a band renowned for its fusion of jazz, Afrobeat, funk, and soul influences, has captivated music enthusiasts with their unique arrangements and virtuosic improvisations. Comprising seasoned musicians namely Eric Kimaru, known as Kimbassax, the talented alto saxophonist; Danson Rabuka, or Danso, the trumpeter; Denilson Ochieng, aka Babu, the tenor saxophonist; and Peter Kabia, also known as King, the professional soprano saxophonist – Hornsphere’s rich experience shines through their compositions. This quartet’s mastery earned them recognition, including prestigious awards like the Best Artiste, Duo, or Group in African Jazz at the 2021 AFRIMMAs and the Best Group in African Jazz at the Café Ngoma Awards the same year.
In their debut album, “FOMATION,” Hornsphere introduces a track titled “Remember” featuring the compelling vocals of Kinoti, a collaboration that showcases their musical prowess to a wider audience. Kinoti crafts a narrative about a couple grappling with longing and emotional turmoil, resorting to rebounds to conceal their feelings. Kinoti adopts the persona of a jealous ex-boyfriend, dissecting his former lover’s new relationship with raw honesty. His poignant admission, “I don’t believe unampenda ulivyonipenda,” sets the tone for the song’s emotional exploration. Rejecting accusations of denial, he asserts his unwavering stance, proclaiming, “as usual sitaskiza story zao.” The story ends as Kinoti’s persona envisions a proposal and a walk down the aisle.
The song’s production matches Kinoti’s compelling storytelling, with the band’s instrumental synergy creating a seamless harmony. Each musician’s expertise contributes to the evocative melody, a result of meticulous recording, mixing, and mastering by Muroriah, also a featured artist on the album. Mutoriah’s addition of a synthesizer injects a captivating fluidity into the composition, enhancing its record-like quality. While the track’s lively drums carry organic energy, digital production elevates their presence. The song’s slow tempo makes it ideal for intimate settings, rendering it a perfect choice for dates, be it in cozy cafes, elegant restaurants, or even radio airwaves during various time slots. Hornsphere’s “Remember” stands as a testament to their musical versatility, capturing the essence of Afro-jazz with an alluring narrative and masterful production techniques.
In the realm of contemporary Benga music, Liboi’s latest offering “Nengua” emerges as a vibrant and culturally resonant track that beckons listeners to the dance floor. Rooted in her upbringing within a musically inclined household, where she absorbed the sounds of African music under the influence of her DJ father, Liboi’s passion for preserving the essence of her heritage comes to the forefront. With an unwavering commitment to the cause, she actively draws inspiration from luminaries like Habib Koite, Kwalinga, Babiyon, and more, fearing the erosion of African musical traditions.
The very essence of “Nengua” encapsulates the spirit of dancing that pulsates within the veins of Africans. Titled by the Swahili term for dance, the song encapsulates the enchanting rhythm that propels bodies to move in sync. Through the smooth cadence of her voice, Liboi extends an invitation in the opening line, “we mama wacha tucheze mi na wangu,we una wako,” evoking the irresistible allure of the dance floor. As the song unfolds, her advice in the second verse to cast aside worries and embrace the moment serves as a testament to the freeing power of dance : “weka shida kando,sahau yale ndogo ndogo.”
Crafted as part of her upcoming EP, “Nengua” forms a piece in the mosaic of Liboi’s artistic journey. The EP delves into themes of inner strength, unity, and harmony, fostering a sense of togetherness that resonates in “Nengua.” Woven into the fabric of the production, the contemporary African music masterpiece artfully merges modern production techniques with the traditional currents of Benga music. Guided by the skillful hands of instrumentalists Henry Ngugi, Evans Komora, Don Tambo, Bernard Oduor, and Eric Mwangangi, under the meticulous guidance of renowned producer Modest Chabari, the song flourishes into a symphony of infectious rhythms, breezy melodies, and Liboi’s ethereal vocals.
Following the success of her previous track “African Child,” a collaboration with South African producer Silvva, “Nengua” stands as a pivotal piece in Liboi’s sophomore project, paving the way for an immersive experience that celebrates life, cultural diversity, and the unifying power of dance. In a world fraught with aspirations and dreams, “Nengua” beckons us to find solace in the dance, to embrace the transient beauty of the human experience, and to cherish the connections that weave our stories together.
Hatima – Double Trouble
Double Trouble, the Kenyan rap duo hailing from the vibrant streets of Mombasa, emerges as a breath of fresh air in the hip-hop scene. The duo comprising Bene and Trouble Too Real, who are blood brothers, have carved their own niche within the Swipe Gang collective, a hub of hip-hop creativity nestled in Majengo Old Town. Rooted in their Swahili heritage yet daringly distinct, Double Trouble brings a flavorful fusion of Swahili and English to the mic, shattering conventional norms upheld by their coastal counterparts.
Their latest creation, “Hatima,” meaning “fate” in Swahili, pulsates with raw energy and introspection. The song’s narrative orbits around embracing one’s destiny and heeding the “call” that resonates within. As the choral line reverberates, the duo’s punchy flow delves deep into their chosen path – hip-hop. A call for change throbs within the verses, “kila mahali me na inspire mbaya,” a testament to the transformative potential that their craft harnesses. Trouble Too Real, humble yet assertive, imparts wisdom, asserting, “unless you take control of your voice you never get the key.” His prophetic voice underscores the gravitas of their influence, “naturally skiza flow za pwani, historia inanitegemea.”
Bene, assuming the reins of the second verse, lyrically paints the canvas of their journey. His words, “golden goose in life nilipewa siku choose,” brush against the theme of destiny, a tapestry they’ve woven into their very existence. Amidst his verses, a call to arms echoes – a separation from the lethargic souls who shun responsibility. Casting aside laziness and indifference, Bene declares, “bila vision sikufichi you get left behind.” Their anthem resonates, not just with their own path, but with the pulse of a generation yearning for purpose.
The soundscape of “Hatima” is a symphony of tradition and innovation. Set upon a foundation of modernized boombap beats, the melody dances on the strings of a chill acoustic guitar, softly accompanied by the cadence of light drums. Familiar echoes of chop and screw patterns characteristic of boombap intertwine with modern trap 808s and the very drums that punctuate the rhythm. Sampled background vocals, looped with finesse, form the backbone of the song’s core melody, a harmonious bridge between past and present. With its roots deeply embedded in Mombasa’s tapestry, “Hatima” is a rallying cry by the 2021 UnKut Hiphop Awards nominees for local music support. The chorus’ plea for 75 percent airplay on the airwaves is a testament to their commitment to uplift their community. A track like this becomes an essential piece in hip-hop playlists and radio rotations, echoing their influence beyond geographical boundaries.