Hey music enthusiasts! It’s time to freshen up your playlist with the latest tracks from Kenya. This week, we’ll be diving into the releases of some incredible artists. Get ready to vibe to “Too Easy” by Bien (Afrosound), sway to “Temporary Love” by Xeniah Mannaseh (R&B), reflect on life with “So Far, So Good” by LB (El Presidente) (conscious rap), experience the intensity of “Talk Ni Cheap” by Mr. Right (Drill), and explore the unique sounds of “Fanta Lean” by Jovie Jovv Swahili Papi, Ekumbo & Timmy Blanco (Psychedelic Trap).
Thanks to our collaboration with Kapuka Kulture, we have exclusive insights and in-depth analysis of these hottest new Kenyan tracks. Let’s ignite the party and make sure to share the excitement with your friends. Get ready to groove and let the music take over!
Too Easy – Bien, Dj Edu
Bien Baraza of Sauti Sol, has been making major waves, proving himself to be a certified hitmaker, ever since the group decided to pursue solo careers concurrently. Earlier this year he became the first Kenyan to get their song recognized on the Official UK Top 20 Afrobeats Chart. His song My Baby featuring Cameroonian superstar Ayra Starr debuted at number 12 on said chart. His latest track, “Too Easy,” is a testament to his ability to captivate audiences across the continent. This love song celebrates the simplicity and comfort found in a relationship with a lover who makes everything effortless. The infectious and catchy chorus repeats the phrase “You make it too easy,” emphasizing the charm of the person the song is dedicated to.
Although the tune is easy to sing along to, it’s far from juvenile. The verses and bridges are filled with sexually charged lyrics, ranging from euphemistic lines like “when I’m feeling low, you give me high-o” to explicit expressions such as “when I’m inside you, you ululate!” Bien’s vocals throughout the song are both alluring and captivating, drawing listeners into his passionate narrative. The production, masterfully handled by DJ Edu in collaboration with producer Andrew Smart, adds to the song’s appeal. Talking of production, “Too Easy” showcases a blend of African sounds, drawing inspiration from Rhumba, Amapiano, and Afrobeats. The main melody is carried by electric guitars of various pitches, creating a lively West African pattern. The constant drumbeat completes the Afrobeat identity of the track. Starting with a rhumba pattern that eventually takes a backseat once the hook kicks in, the song showcases Bien’s skill as he hums an old rhumba tune. Selectively introducing Amapiano 808 patterns adds climactic effects at the end of verses, seamlessly leading into the chorus. The infectious and rapid drumming pattern reminiscent of South African sounds makes the song undeniably danceable.
This sonic blend can be poured as a steamy drink at home with your partner or as an intoxicating one before you hit the dancefloor at the club. By combining up to three distinct Afro Sounds, the song redefines and refreshes the East African music scene. This cultural fusion not only keeps the music fresh and tasty but also enables it to have a significantly wider appeal. It resonates with various cultural markets across the continent, allowing different regions to find a piece of themselves within the music.
Temporary Love – Xenia Manasseh
Kenyan-American R&B artist, Xenia Mannaseh once again captivates us with her latest release, “Temporary Love.” Known for her fusion of Neo-Soul and Jazz influences into R&B. Xenia is well traveled and cultured, constantly moving between Nairobi and different states in America, crafting music characterized by minimalist grooves, soothing melody lines, controlled vocals, and vulnerable lyricism. She is a graduate of the prestigious Berklee Music College where she met the talented producer of this number MOMBRU.
“Temporary Love” delves into the bittersweet realm of regretting a love affair that ended prematurely. With heartfelt lyrics like “I apologize for the time I wasted” and “wishing that I listened,” Xenia assumes a repentant persona, candidly acknowledging her own shortcomings. The song’s hook uses the phrase “no more temporary love,” that serves as a powerful reminder of the transient nature of this relationship. She pleads for forgiveness, revealing her vulnerability and expressing her desire to learn from her mistakes. However, she is wiser and would not be going into the relationship with the same naivety she had the first time revealing, “how could I walk into love so blind, need a reminder, I’ve been making moves thinking I was the wiser”. It’s a narrative that many of us can relate to, as we’ve all experienced the complexities of love and the remorse that can accompany its loss.
The production of “Temporary Love” further elevates the song’s emotional impact. MOMBRU, the Atlanta-based producer and multi-instrumentalist, weaves a sonic tapestry that perfectly complements Xenia’s introspective lyrics. The instrumental adheres to the traditional sonic patterns of R&B, with heavy, slow-paced drumming and a melody crafted from a keyboard and electric guitar. This minimalist approach allows Xenia’s controlled vocals to take center stage, enveloping the listener in a soothing atmosphere. The chill beat creates an aura of intimacy, making this song perfect for cozy nights indoors or for those moments when you yearn for an emotional connection. Xenia Manasseh’s rise to prominence in the music scene cannot be overstated. Her vocal prowess and insightful lyricism have cemented her as a household name in Kenyan music. “Temporary Love ” stands out as yet another remarkable addition to her discography. Her ability to convey raw emotions with grace and vulnerability elevates her music beyond mere entertainment.
So Far, So Good -LB (El Presidente)
LB (El Presidente), an up-and-coming rapper with a rising momentum in the hip-hop scene, delivers a poetic stock take in his track “So Far, So Good.” The song is a reflection on his successes and failures, hopes and fears, strengths and weaknesses, and other contrasting ideas expressed in a Dickensian fashion. However, LB’s intention is not to criticize any quarter of society like the English novelist. Rather, the mood and overall message of the song are positive. In the opening verse, he sets the tone with the line, “chasing the dream like immigrants in Paris, told my momma one day I’ll probably build you a palace.” This uplifting message is skillfully woven into the lyrical tapestry, with clever punchlines like “she want a Family guy like Seth McFarlane” and “Nigg*s walk with sticks like seniors after retirement.” LB maintains a raw edge in his writing, likening himself to a tyrant, a beast, and a hell-bound sinner at various points throughout the song.
The beat for “So Far, So Good” is produced by Clyde Made, a promising new producer in the Nairobi hip-hop scene. If this beat is any indication, Clyde Made is bound to receive calls from other rappers seeking his talent. The song features a chill, slow-burning hip-hop beat that embodies a modern vibe. The combination of a soft keyboard and various guitars creates a captivating melody, while the expertly crafted 808 patterns give the beat a punchy quality. The production perfectly complements LB’s introspective and thought-provoking lyrics, enhancing the overall appeal of the song.
This track finds its place in the morning playlists for young adults. With its uplifting and encouraging message, “So Far, So Good” prepares listeners to face the world head-on. The punchy nature of both the beat and the lyricism undoubtedly excites hip-hop enthusiasts, making it a must-add to their playlists too. LB El Presidente, primarily known as a trap artist, showcases another facet of his music with this standout song, revealing hidden lyrical genius to his fans. We can only hope that he can recapture the magic he brought to this track in his future releases. In a world where uplifting tunes are much needed, “So Far, So Good” is a significant addition to LB El Presidente’s discography. It highlights his artistic versatility and demonstrates his ability to create music that resonates on a deeper level.
Talk Ni Cheap- Mr.Right
Mr. Right, one half of the sensational Burunklyn Boyz duo, showcases his versatility and artistic growth in his latest solo release, “Talk Ni Cheap.” Following the massive success of their debut album, East Mpaka London, which shattered streaming records, Mr. Right takes a bold step forward with his solo work, delivering a fresh experience for fans. The track’s theme revolves around the age-old idiom “talk is cheap,” through which Mr. Right explores the deceptive nature of words and the prevalence of empty promises.
In “Talk Ni Cheap,” Mr. Right fearlessly confronts the issue of dishonesty head-on. He highlights the hypocrisy of fellow rappers who claim superiority but fail to back up their words. With biting precision, Mr. Right asserts that the Burunklyn Boyz remain unrivaled, exposing the hollowness of their competitors’ claims. He mocks two distinct groups of entertainers: those who flaunt luxury cars on social media without the means to afford them, and those who boast about their access to beautiful women, even when it’s far from the truth saying of them,”hio talk si real.” The song carries a powerful message that Mr. Right is not to be underestimated or taken lightly. He warns his real and perceived enemies at the start of the song with the line,”Opp boy utabaki ume-shhh kama huwezi do sh*t”,asserting their insignificance and emphasizing his resilience. Referring to himself as the “comeback king,” Mr. Right displays his unwavering determination and refusal to be written off. Furthermore, he acknowledges his partner AJAY’s recent solo single, “CALIWEED,” subtly highlighting their individual growth and the positive impact it has on their collective artistry.
Sonically, “Talk Ni Cheap” is a refreshing twist on the drill genre. The production features a laid-back beat with a captivating melody crafted from a soothing Latino guitar. Enhancing the instrumental, a high-pitched flute weaves in and out, adding an intriguing layer of melody
Familiar 808 patterns are incorporated into the instrumental giving it a recognizable drill DNA. Mr. Right’s choice of a more relaxed backdrop distinguishes his music from the genre’s typically dark and violent themes.With its chill vibes and captivating lyrics, “Talk Ni Cheap” offers a perfect escape for unwinding and chilling after a long day. It effortlessly finds its place in evening playlists.
By breaking away from releasing music as a duo, the Burukyln Boyz rappers AJAY and in this case Mr. Right, are able to provide fans with a taste of something new, expanding their musical horizons. Mr. Right’s solo endeavor not only showcases his individual growth but also contributes to the long-term development of the Buruklyn Boyz. Furthermore, his exploration of a more laid-back style of drill challenges the problematic traditions associated with the genre, presenting an alternative that could shift the cultural landscape.
Fanta Lean- Jovie Jovv , Swahili Papi, Ekumbo & Timmy Blanco.
“Fanta Lean” is a captivating track that stands out from the crowd with its unique blend of rock music, psychedelia and trap. The song is part of the EP Vibes Central, a collaborative project by Jovie Jovv, Swahili Papi, and Ekumbo. Swahili Papi and Ekumbo, known for their psychedelic rap style, draw inspiration from psychedelic rock to create an alternative sound that aims to evoke deep emotions and transport the listener to another world. Jovie Jovv, occasionally explores this sound as he collaborates frequently with Swahili Papi and Ekumbo.
The theme of “Fanta Lean” revolves around recreational drug use, delving into the experience of using various substances. The song’s hook and bridge casually mention the combination of codeine and promethazine cough syrups mixed with sprite to create the highly addictive drink known as lean. The title “Fanta Lean ” is ironic as the Fanta soda is not used in making the drink. The lyrics also make references to other controlled substances such as fentanyl, novazine, xanny, and molly. Jovie Jovv elects a melodic cadence while delivering the first verse of the song in a high-pitched tenor, enhanced by auto-tune and complemented by background vocals from Swahili Papi and Ekumbo.Timmy Blanco on the other hand performs a verse that is characteristically fast paced and hard-hitting.The delivery showcases his lyrical prowess with lines like “sick like COVID check the temperature, I’m so cold I walk with a handkerchief” and “got them hanging up like a gallery.”
The song’s production is equally impressive, thriving on attention to detail and complexity. The beat can be dissected into different phases, each contributing to the overall sonic experience. The first phase features an electronic synthesizer that extracts then extrapolates an uncomfortable bass guitar, devoid of vocals. The second phase incorporates elements of an electric guitar and drum patterns reminiscent of soft rock music. In the third phase, a keyboard is used, with a prolonged key press creating an ominous chord. The instrumental genius lies in the alternating cycles of the second and third phases, accompanied by the characteristic trap 808’s, resulting in a high-energy and emotionally charged track. Psychedelic rap is not a common sound in the country, making “Fanta Lean” and the Vibes Central EP a unique offering to Kenyan rap. It is refreshing to see artists like Timmy Blanco and Jovie Jovv, who have much larger fan bases than Swahili Papi and Ekumbo embrace this style. The project challenges the traditional definition of Kenyan trap music and pushes the boundaries by incorporating diverse influences, ensuring a fresh and captivating listening experience. Swahili Papi’s production skills shine through in the intricate instrumental, and our detailed description of the instrumental probably does not do it the justice it deserves.