Hello readers! Another week another edition of the Crispy Fresh list,a deep dive into some of the most relevant new music releases in Kenya.Thanks to our partnership with Kapuka Kulture our readers get to enjoy the best musical analysis and playlist recommendations.This week out lost features songs from Ssaru Iyanah ,Alicia Popat,Thayu Mwas and P-Tah.Dive in.
mr.sneaky link- Iyanah
Iyanah, the Nairobi-based singer-songwriter, invites us into the captivating world of modern dating with her irresistible R&B single, “mr. sneaky link.” This fun and flirtatious song taps into the thrilling allure of the chase, exploring the desire and attraction that comes with a secret lover you’re not quite ready to reveal to the world. Iyanah assumes a persona that requests her love interest to “keep it lowkey,” urging them to embrace the excitement of their hidden connection.
“mr. sneaky link” stands out as a relatable anthem for anyone who has navigated the dating scene in Nairobi. Iyanah’s honest and genuine songwriting approach, akin to her personal journal entries, resonates with young listeners. The track embodies the desire for playfulness by some women in modern romance, capturing the essence of pursuing a relationship with minimal emotional investment. In the second verse, Iyanah dismisses formalities, declaring, “Don’t got no time for no pleasantries, I just wanna see what you’re all about.” This sentiment encapsulates the contemporary dating landscape, where authenticity and curiosity often take precedence over traditional courtship rituals.
The significance of “mr. sneaky link” extends beyond its lyrical themes. The song’s production showcases Iyanah’s versatility as an artist. Rooted in R&B, the rhythmic movements and drum patterns adhere to the genre’s conventions. A soft and smooth keyboard, possibly a synthesizer, provides a foundation for the melody, accompanied by electric guitars that add a touch of pop influence. The low-pitched R&B drum patterns intertwine with lighter 808s, reminiscent of Afro pop, while shakers contribute an African flavor, albeit subtly. Notably, Iyanah’s vocal layering mastery deserves praise. Skillfully placed at the end of lines, the layered vocals enliven the track, maintaining its playful and vibrant energy, while showcasing Iyanah’s musicality and melodic prowess.
“mr. sneaky link” finds its ideal setting among the girl squad’s gatherings, whether indoors, during road trips, or engaging in any fun activity. Its smoothness makes it a fitting choice for radio airplay, particularly on select shows. Moreover, the song’s tasteful and non-explicit lyrics make it accessible to teenage audiences with parental guidance, expanding its cultural impact beyond a specific age demographic. As the lead single from Iyanah’s highly anticipated debut EP, “mr. sneaky link” piques curiosity and sets high expectations for the upcoming project. Despite limited resources, Iyanah’s impeccable execution of vocal layering compensates for the absence of background vocalists, showcasing her creativity and resourcefulness. Stay tuned for further updates about the EP’s release, as Iyanah promises to unveil details gradually, building anticipation for her promising debut.
Utam Flani- Ssaru featuring Fathermoh & Tricks Hr
In the vibrant and ever-evolving world of East African music, few artists have captured the essence of the gengetone movement as skillfully as Ssaru, a prominent femcee celebrated both in Kenya and beyond. With her unique blend of Swahili and Sheng, Ssaru’s music exudes an unapologetic energy that resonates with her diverse fanbase. In her latest release, “Utam Flani,” she collaborates with Fathermoh, a member of the dynamic gengetone trio Mbuzi Gang, and emerging Tanzanian rapper Tricks Hr, who has been making waves with his previous singles on major DSPs. Together, these artists create a musical experience that delves deeper than the surface, exploring the yearning, urges, and thoughts of lovers before their anticipated rendezvous.
The song begins with Fathermoh’s captivating hook, setting the stage with the line, “Nimekwama kwa jam fulani hapa rounda na kuma shawrry ananingoja”. This line not only introduces us to an impatient lover, but it also reveals the emotional intensity that the personas are caught up in. Ssaru takes the lead with her sexually charged lyrics, a trademark of her artistry. She represents an empowered woman who is fully aware of her charms and takes charge of her own pleasure, enthusiastically rapping, “Nina utam fulani na niko ndani” before metaphorically comparing a night with her to a dinner experience, saying, “Amefika kejani anaipata iko mezani, anaikula pa sahani”.Describing an indoor date with scented candles and beers, she asserts that “tonight nothing else matters.”
Tricks Hr, the Tanzanian rap sensation, adds his own flavor to the date night theme in his verse, emphasizing that the vibe is just right and he’s in the zone. Reflecting on his unfortunate experience from the last time he planned to meet his lover, he playfully jokes, “Last time hukufanya fair, so leo situmi fare”. Determined to make amends, he proposes to visit her, suggesting she sends the pin and provides the correct house number. In a playful punchline that aligns with the song’s motif of fare and public transportation, he confidently declares, “Ata nikikosa nauli kwa ajili yako nitatembea”.This clever line adds a touch of humor and showcases Tricks Hr’s lyrical prowess in a verse that also pays homage to Zuchu’s hit song “Sukari.”
Complementing the compelling storytelling and captivating lyrics, the beat production in “Utam Flani” leaves an indelible mark. The instrumental follows a standard gengetone arrangement, combining various instruments to create a high-energy and bouncy rhythm that exudes playfulness. With the prominent use of a looped, high-energy keyboard, the song becomes irresistibly danceable. The inclusion of dancehall 808’s, a staple in the genre, provides a consistent foundation for the rhythm. Additionally, the producer cleverly incorporates African drums that subtly lag behind the dancehall 808’s, creating a complex double pattern at the end of each cycle. To add a whimsical touch, an exaggerated high-pitched flute makes occasional appearances, infusing the tune with an airy and mystical quality.
“Utam Flani” is more than just a club banger; it holds significance in both creative and cultural realms. By collaborating with Tricks Hr, Ssaru solidifies her position as a beloved regional act and contributes to the exportation of the Kenyan gengetone sound to the wider East African region. This collaboration serves as a testament to the growing influence and popularity of gengetone, as artists from Uganda and Tanzania increasingly embrace the genre to express themselves authentically. With its infectious beats, provocative lyrics, and storytelling that encapsulates the yearning and pleasures of lovers, “Utam Flani” stands out as a cultural milestone, capturing the hearts and imaginations of young adults.
Back To The Future- P-Tah
P-Tah, a London-based Kenyan rapper also known as Tapi wa Furu, has crafted a masterpiece with his latest track, “Back To The Future.” This conscious rap tune delves deep into the realms of introspection and philosophy, offering a thought-provoking exploration of both the future and the past of negritude. The song’s appeal lies not only in its beautiful lyricism but also in its ability to simultaneously weave multiple storylines.
One of the prominent narratives in “Back To The Future” is P-Tah’s personal journey as a rapper. In the opening lines, he reminisces about the early days, stating, “been underground since enzi za kucheza Nazizi, mama mama nataka kuwa rapper, hizo enzi tulikuwa constantly kwa corner.” From there, he evolves into an artist who utilizes his craft to question the world, particularly government and economics. As the song progresses, he offers sage advice to young aspiring artists, urging them to carefully consider their contracts before signing away their future: “Double take kwa kandarasi before you sign your future”.It is also noteworthy how the song pays homage to the legends of Kenyan hip hop, mentioning by name Nazizi, Ukoo Flani Mau Mau and Kalamashaka- people that P-Tah shows a deep appreciation for as well as a proper understanding of their legacies.He does not mention them merely to rhyme,but to aid in his storytelling.
Religion and spirituality also take center stage in “Back To The Future,” with a critical focus on their significance to the Black race. P-Tah confronts the influence of Christianity, associating it with European imperialism, oppression, and the historical traumas of slavery and colonization,”remember wali justify enslaving you na dini, while in real sense ulikuwa to them madini-black gold!”He advocates for a shift towards personal spirituality, emphasizing the importance of a direct connection with God and treating fellow human beings with dignity and respect. His powerful metaphor, drawing from “The Matrix,” highlights the need to prioritize spirituality over collective religious practices.
Kunto official beats masterfully handles the instrumental. With a classic hip-hop foundation, the beat incorporates elements from old-school rap, particularly the chop and screw sound patterns. A synthesized keyboard melody drives the rhythm, complemented by sampled background vocals that create a reflective mood, characteristic of conscious rap. The subdued 808 patterns blend seamlessly with the chop and screw patterns, allowing the lyrical performance to take center stage while maintaining a quiet yet captivating ambiance.
P-Tah’s “Back To The Future” holds significant creative and cultural significance.His lyrics demonstrate a profound understanding and respect for the legacy of Kenyan rap legends. His utilization of their famous phrases enriches the storytelling aspect of the song, elevating it beyond mere rhyming. P-Tah represents the new generation of lyricists who will shape the future of rap. “Back To The Future” tackles weighty socio-political issues in an engaging and enjoyable manner, making it a must-listen for both philosophers and hip-hop enthusiasts alike.Its presence on morning playlists and radio airwaves would be a welcome addition.
About Tha Business-Thayu Mwas featuring SenjiMao
“About Tha Business” by Thayu Mwas featuring SenjiMao is a captivating shrap track that delves into the world of music and professional engagements. The song’s title perfectly captures its essence, as it revolves around the concept of being about business. With the resounding choral phrase, “niko about the business,” the artists emphasize their commitment to their craft. Thayu Mwas kickstarts the tune with a prehook that draws parallels between his musical journey and an epic adventure, where he navigates treacherous terrains, “milima na slopes,” to reach his destination.
SenjiMao’s verse explores his risk-taking nature and the value he places on independence. He boldly asserts, “I don’t need permission; that is how it feels to be in my position,” showcasing his confidence and autonomy. Moreover, he advocates for breaking down doors if necessary to claim what he believes is rightfully his. Thayu Mwas returns for a second verse, delivering clever lines like, “I stick to the code, na super glue missing,” underscoring his unwavering commitment and consistency in pursuing his dreams. He also references his growing fame by mentioning a recent show he performed in Kilifi, stating, “natoa Nairobi, peleka Kilifi.”
Both Thayu Mwas and SenjiMao exhibit melodic cadences in their performances, with SenjiMao’s deeper voice complementing Thayu Mwas’ style. The instrumental for “About Tha Business” is expertly crafted by Luigi, a highly regarded beatmaker within Kenya’s new school rap scene. Luigi’s collaboration with notable artists like Khaligraph Jones, Boutrouss, and Steph Kspela has resulted in award-winning hits. Known for his ability to infuse the Atlanta trap sound with a Kenyan twist, Luigi creates a relaxed and sensual rhythm through the incorporation of a Latino-type guitar movement. The addition of a rougher and grittier keyboard adds an edgy element to the track, while the use of standard trap music 808 patterns gives it a punchy quality, allowing the rappers to find their cadences and pace themselves accordingly.
“About Tha Business” stands out as a chill anthem suitable for both mornings and evenings. Its uplifting and motivational nature makes it ideal for radio play or as background music in shops, inspiring listeners to persevere in their grind and remain focused on their business endeavors. Thayu Mwas, also known as the Shrap Zeus, is already a beloved figure within the shrap fanbase, renowned for his fresh and dynamic melodic cadences and delightful hooks. SenjiMao, a newcomer to the scene, introduces himself as a melodic rapper with exceptional lyrical skills and a flair for wordplay through this collaboration. Fans eagerly anticipate the future endeavors of both artists, individually and together.
This collaboration also highlights Thayu Mwas’ commendable support for emerging artists. By utilizing his platform to promote lesser-known rappers like SenjiMao, he exemplifies the unity and goodwill that can benefit the shrap sound and Kenyan rap as a whole. Luigi further solidifies his reputation as a go-to trap producer, cementing his position within the industry.
Berlin Lights-Alicia Popat
Alicia Popat, a renowned singer/songwriter hailing from Kenya, invites us on a captivating auditory adventure through the bustling streets of Berlin in her latest release, “Berlin Lights.” This psych-pop gem, produced by the talented Billy Otto, combines elements of soft rock and psychedelic pop to create a truly mesmerizing experience. With over a decade of experience in the music industry, Popat’s dynamic sound effortlessly fuses various pop flavors with occasional nods to her Indian heritage, resulting in what can only be described as modern folk.
“Berlin Lights” paints a vivid picture of a lazy Tuesday night in the heart of Berlin, as seen through the eyes of a young woman on a date. Popat skillfully weaves together a tale of hope and yearning, capturing the anticipation and vulnerability of the protagonist. The song’s bridge poignantly captures the delicate balance between desire and apprehension, as the narrator reveals her hopes of making a lasting impression on her date, realizing that there is much at stake. The lyrics continue to unfold, envisioning the emotional rollercoaster that follows the date, with the protagonist anxiously awaiting a call, hoping for a season and staying for a reason.
Embedded within the song’s whimsical lyricism lies the essence of psych pop, with its dreamlike qualities reminiscent of poetry. Popat masterfully utilizes this style to convey the ethereal nature of Berlin’s lights and the city’s nocturnal allure. The production, skillfully executed by Billy Otto, further enhances the song’s creative and cultural significance. Otto, known for his fusion of psych-pop, indie rock, and electronic music, brings his eclectic musical background to the table. By seamlessly blending sitars and tabias with electric guitars, he achieves a delicate and exotic sound, creating a sonic dreamscape that perfectly complements Popat’s lyrical storytelling.
Alicia Popat’s unique cultural background adds another layer of significance to “Berlin Lights.” As a Kenyan of Indian origin, she represents the rich diversity that often goes unnoticed in the Kenyan music industry. Her fusion of different cultures not only results in a captivating sound but also serves as a testament to the power of embracing one’s heritage while pushing artistic boundaries. Through her music, Popat carries the torch for the Kenyan diaspora, presenting a global perspective that is both refreshing and essential. As she divides her time between Kenya and Berlin, she remains deeply connected to her roots, spreading the beauty of her homeland to the world.