Crispy Fresh! Latest From The Kenyan Music Scene

This week’s Crispy Fresh features some underdogs who are showing ingenuity as they continue to entertain Kenyans by exploring different ideas. Whether it is genteel introspection by Jakk Quill or a lively celebration of the “force of nature”  by Emmie Muthiga and Asum Garvey or love that longs like Otile Brown’s song alongside legend Atemi Oyungu versus the stress that comes with conflict in relationships as explored by Flier, we got you this is the place to be. In partnership with Kapuka Kulture this week it promises to be an in-depth look at some of the new Kenyan songs that are making an immediate impact, Enjoy.

Finish Last- Otile Brown & Atemi Oyungu

In “Finish Last,” Otile Brown and Atemi Oyungu come together to deliver a captivating Swahili R&B track that blends contemporary R&B, Bongo, reggae, and Afropop influences with hints of hip hop. The song’s thematic concept centers around the phrase “but I’ll never finish last,” representing the complexities of a relationship that seems to lack definition but still holds a glimmer of hope. Otile’s verse expresses his frustration as he feels overlooked and not taken seriously, while Atemi’s persona doubts the depth of love in the relationship. However, amidst the uncertainty, Atemi declares her belief in their destined love, echoing the sentiment, “I am the one that you’re looking for.”

The song’s beat production adheres to standard R&B patterns, with heavy drumming intervals supported by light, rapid 808s, and synthesizers. A keyboard forms the core of the rhythmic foundation, enhanced by piano and saxophone layers that appear predominantly in the chorus sections and softer moments of the song. The vocal layering, particularly with Atemi Oyungu’s impressive voice, is exceptional, and the background vocalists add depth to the story, emphasizing the conflicts in the relationship.

For the audience, “Finish Last” offers a slow but groovy jam, catering to adults seeking a fun and intimate atmosphere without the intensity of younger party songs. This track sets the perfect mood for lovers on their dates, complementing the sensual lyrics and good vibes of the song. The collaboration between Otile Brown and the legendary Atemi Oyungu brings together two decades of musical experience, resulting in a compelling and emotionally rich Swahili R&B experience that showcases the versatility and appeal of their styles.

It Rains,It Pours- Emmie Muthiga & Asum Garvey

Emmie Muthiga, hailing from BuruBuru, presents a captivating musical journey with her latest hit, “It Rains, It Pours,” a dynamic blend of Kapuka, Hiphop, and RnB. Drawing inspiration from Beyoncé, Sauti Sol, E-sir, Nyashinski, Octopizzo, and Sanaipei Tande, Emmie’s music reflects her diverse influences. The song features a catchy chorus borrowed from Asap Rocky’s “Praise the Lord (Da Shine)” with Skepta. “I came and then I saw, I praise the Lord and break the law, Counting all my blessings a hundred fold, I got the message it rains, it pours,” she sings, setting the tone for her melodic rap verse that exudes positivity and gratitude for her accomplishments.

The song showcases Emmie’s love for the shrap sound, where she feels right at home, confidently asserting, “washanikubali.” Asum Garvey complements the track with his impactful verse, exuding confidence in his characteristic braggadocious yet easy-going style. The philosophy behind the song, shared by Asum, reflects a spirit of challenging oneself and the world around, urging listeners to embrace the force of nature within them.

The vibrant beat, skillfully produced by Temper Beats in the UK, features a lively keyboard synthesizer melody with a bouncy, dynamic quality. The track incorporates elements of drill music and Afro Swing, prominent rap subgenres in the UK, while the dominant use of trap 808s amplifies the song’s energy on the dancefloor and in the club scene.

Emmie’s venture into the rap domain is a bold statement, showcasing her versatility and ability to embrace different styles. As a testament to her love for the shrap movement, the collaboration with Asum highlights her admiration for his verse. “It Rains, It Pours” challenges the way we perceive her music, serving as a forceful expression of her artistry and a celebration of the shrap movement she cherishes. 

The Mind Of A Young Artist- Jakk Quill

In “The Mind Of A Young Artist,” Jakk Quill, the esteemed Kenyan conscious rapper, delves into the profound themes of internal struggles and existential angst, from the perspective of a young artist. Known for his exceptional lyricism and poetic depth, he presents a candid and intimate portrayal of his experiences in the current music landscape. The song serves as the final track in his album “Searching For Utopia,” adding to its significance and leaving listeners pondering the next phase of his musical journey.

Jakk Quill’s mastery as a lyricist shines through the excellently written verses, where he intriguingly adopts a confident persona while subtly acknowledging moments of uncertainty. This paradoxical approach adds depth to the song, resonating with aspiring artists facing their own doubts and aspirations. The chorus, with lines like “do I have the appeal” and “will I make it or not,” echoes the common questions artists contemplate, further connecting with the audience.

The production of “The Mind Of A Young Artist” exemplifies Jakk Quill’s meticulous craftsmanship. Drawing inspiration from American greats J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar, he employs a deconstructed pop rhythm, combining high-pitched guitar chords and piano loops, and complementing them with a deep bass guitar. The use of light and rapid trap 808s adds a melodic touch, enhancing the rapper’s seamless cadence switches during his performance. The result is a beat that evokes a sense of discomfort, mirroring the theme of uncertainty explored in the song.

The song’s appeal lies in its relatability, making it particularly resonant for young and aspiring artists.This is a tune you could describe by borrowing from the Lincolnian maxim,”a song about a  young rapper, by a young rapper,for the benefit of young rappers”.Through its narrative, Jakk Quill addresses the challenges faced by artists, both material and abstract, as they strive to create and release their work to an uncertain audience. The absence of an explicit conclusion leaves the listeners curious, intrigued, and eagerly anticipating the next phase of the rapper’s musical journey.

As “The Mind Of A Young Artist” concludes Jakk Quill’s third studio album, which he describes as a trilogy, its significance extends beyond the individual track. Fans eagerly digest his latest masterpiece, eagerly awaiting what lies ahead for this talented artist. Through his introspective lyrics and expertly crafted beats, Jakk Quill captivates a wide audience, offering a glimpse into the complexities and aspirations of a young artist’s mind.

Tumekasirika- Flier

Flier, the Afro-fusion artist with a deep passion for both singing and producing, presents “Tumekasirika,” a captivating song that delves into the complexities of a quarreling couple. The track follows the perspective of a confused man as he reflects on the emotional turmoil within his relationship. The poignant chorus, “Tumekasirika, kejani jakuna raha kumebadilka,” vividly captures the fluctuating emotional state of the persona. Throughout the song, he reveals other signs of his inner unrest, such as struggling to focus on a series due to absent-mindedness and losing his appetite despite ordering his partner’s favorite food.

In the first verse, Flier paints a picture of a couple embroiled in a two-day fight, having not spoken since the morning when his partner left early to avoid him. The persona candidly expresses his embarrassment at the situation, acknowledging how their neighbors are curious, wondering what caused their strife. The bridge, cleverly using a gun metaphor with “weka ndenga chini,” illustrates his partner’s anger, emphasizing the potential danger of harboring such emotions.

The song’s production, masterfully crafted by Flier himself, boasts a modernized rhumba beat. The main melody, derived from a deconstructed rhumba pattern, blends seamlessly with synthesized elements and heavy drumming patterns. A soft electric guitar, evoking R&B influences, enriches the rhythm. Notably, the 808 patterns add a touch of contemporary R&B flair. The soothing and calming effect of the beat subtly reinforces the message of peaceful conflict resolution.

In its significance, “Tumekasirika” stands as an anthem advocating for peaceful resolution of conflicts in an open and honest manner, free from violence. Flier’s organic and non-preachy approach effectively communicates this crucial message, making it suitable for radio play and educational purposes. The song’s chill production aligns perfectly with the call for calmness in conflict resolution, making it a powerful and relevant addition to the Afro-fusion genre.

DA VINCI- Lowki the Great

In “DA VINCI,” Lowki the Great, an emerging rapper from Nairobi, delivers his trademark clever zingers and punchlines in a smooth and effortless manner. The song revolves around the central theme of staying disciplined and committed as one progresses towards success, encapsulated in the chorus, “kufika to the top si rahisi, bado nimestick to the code ka Da Vinci.” The verses reflect on his journey, from starting early “nilianza kugrind mapema, sai ndio wanashangaa napenya” to his current motivation, doing it for “his people” – family and friends. His ultimate goal is to elevate Kenyan rap to the international stage.

Drawing inspiration from the Da Vinci Code, the song not only references it in the chorus but uses it as a motif throughout. Lines like “nalive kama optimus, I am in my prime” and “Da Vinci, bado picture ni vivid na clear” add depth to the lyrical content. Lowki sees achievement as a sign of progress, acknowledging that “it was all a dream ili-come kupass,” staying true to himself along the way. As the last verse ends with a shoutout to his fans, the chorus concludes the song on a resonant note.

The production of “DA VINCI” is a collaborative effort by Bliss and Tyrell Dolla, known for consistently providing soft rhythms that draw from chill sounds like R&B and Afrohouse. They craft a soft jazz melody, combining keyboard and electric guitars, with a subtle presence of a saxophone intertwined with the percussion. The song features two sets of drumming patterns, a dominant light rapid 808s and a slower R&B pattern in the background, enhancing its soothing appeal.

Lowki’s commitment and consistency are evident in “DA VINCI,” as he continues to carve his path in the rap scene. The song’s theme reflects his own approach, making it a self-fulfilling prophecy of success. With its witty delivery and enjoyable punchlines, “DA VINCI ” is an excellent addition to rap playlists, capturing the essence of Lowki’s artistry and dedication.