Dear reader, welcome to the latest edition of Crispy Fresh, a weekly segment that highlights some of the latest releases by Kenyan artists. Thanks to our friends at Kapuka Kulture, we are able to give our readers an in-depth analysis that not only tackles the thematic concerns and production techniques but also the artistic and cultural significance of the songs discussed. Somewhere in there too, we tell you how to playlist the jams too. So get ready to groove this week with drops from Wanavokali, Nyashinski, Genes1s Buruklyn Boyz and Mist’riii.
“Hawataweza,” the latest single by Kenyan R&B collective Wanavokali, is an anthemic ballad that passionately captures the essence of love. Drawing from the Swahili poetry tradition of ngonjera, the song presents a heartfelt conversation between two lovers who reassure each other of their unwavering commitment. The choral line, “Hawataweza kukupenda, vile ninavyokupenda,” serves as a clarion call that encapsulates the song’s message. Amidst the challenges posed by a city full of haters and players, the lovers stand firm, vowing not to allow external forces to disrupt their happily ever after. The song paints love as aspirational, rekindling the fairy tale-like wonder and excitement that comes with romance, even drawing comparisons to the iconic love story of Romeo and Juliet.
The song’s exceptional production is handled by the talented producer SoFresh, renowned for his work in the Kenyan Afropop sound who creates a compelling auditory experience.The complex and varied layering of rhythms captures the listeners’ attention, with each section—verses, chorus, and bridge—boasting distinct but cohesive patterns. The R&B genre’s primary drumming patterns and 808s provide a solid foundation, while Afrobeat elements are strategically introduced at the hooks to build climaxes. The result is a sonically rich and engaging track that showcases Wanavokali’s diverse vocal ranges and highlights each member’s talent within the six member collective.
The significance of “Hawataweza” lies in Wanavokali’s ability to craft radio-friendly hits that resonate with a wide audience. Following the success of their debut single “Rhumba,” the group continues to deliver impressive releases, infusing charm and an urban twist into the familiar sound of their Kenyan roots. As winners of Old Mutual’s Amazing Voices competition, Wanavokali has gained recognition not only in Kenya but across Africa, positioning the country as a musical force. Their fresh group vocal sound, coupled with their energetic delivery, sets them apart and promises to make listeners move.
Be Good To Me- Nyashinski
Nyashinski, the Kenyan singer, songwriter, and rapper, has once again struck a chord with his latest R&B offering, “Be Good To Me.” Known for his soulful sound that blends traditional African rhythms with contemporary pop, hip hop, and R&B, Nyashinski’s musical prowess has earned him collaborations with some of Africa’s biggest names, including Sauti Sol, Otile Brown, and Victoria Kimani. “Be Good To Me” is a feel-good song that revolves around themes of compassion and understanding, resonating with listeners of all ages.
The song’s appeal lies not only in Nyashinski’s impressive vocal range and powerful delivery but also in the simplicity of its message. With a hook that repeats the line, “be good to me,” the song strikes an emotional chord and encourages vulnerability in its raw form, even if it might come across as naive. The lyrics talk about the importance of treating others with kindness, embodying the golden rule’s moral principle championed by Jesus Christ and Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative. However, as the song progresses, it becomes evident that there’s a deeper layer to its meaning. Throughout the song, Nyashinski addresses the idea of introspection and self-reflection, cleverly conveyed through lines like “mirror on the wall, talk to me.” This narrative reveals that the song is more than just a plea for kindness towards others; it emphasizes the significance of being good to oneself. In this context, “Be Good To Me” becomes an important artistic number that tackles mental health awareness, reclaiming a message that might have lost some potency due to saturation in public discourse. The cover art itself portrays this message, showing Nyashinski hugging a caricature of itself that emerges from a mirror, symbolizing the need for self-compassion.
Complementing Nyashinski’s heartfelt lyrics, the production of “Be Good To Me” adds to the song’s appeal. Produced by Cedric Kadenyi, commonly known as Cedo, the slow-paced R&B track features a mellow keyboard and low-energy electric guitar movements that set the rhythm. A synthesized flute melody with a lulling effect weaves in and out, further enhancing the emotional resonance of the song. The dominant R&B 808 pattern, accompanied by dynamic drums subtly mimicking Afrobeats patterns, adds an infectious groove to the tune, making it perfect for motivational playlists and radio airwaves.
As one of the prominent figures in the East African music scene, Nyashinski continues to captivate audiences with his unique sound and heartfelt lyrics. “Be Good To Me” is not just another love ballad; it stands out creatively and culturally by addressing important themes of compassion, introspection, and self-compassion, all wrapped up in a captivating blend of R&B and African-inspired rhythms. The song’s appeal lies in its simplicity, powerful message, and the undeniable chemistry between Nyashinski and his go-to producer, Cedo.
Tupo Site-Genes1s featuring Lil Maina
Genes1s, an artist from the vibrant streets of Kilimani, Nairobi, brings us a hard-hitting party anthem in collaboration with Lil Maina titled “Tupo Site.” The phrase itself has become a viral sensation and an integral part of urban Kenyan culture. Translating to “we are at the site,” it signifies being at the heart of the action. Genes1s, with his lively and versatile sound, introduces us to a party-centric persona who lives life on the edge, seeking enjoyment even in the midst of financial constraints. With the line “life is too short tujinice,” he justifies his hedonistic approach to life.The rapper also repeats the line “Ka ukona stress basi achilia,”reminding us all to embrace the fun and light-hearted nature of existence. Teaming up with Lil Maina, known for bringing a laid-back vibe to any party, Genes1s finds the perfect collaborator. Lil Maina’s verse casually mentions the recreational use of controlled substances, adding to the song’s carefree and unapologetic atmosphere. He raps about a party scene,and uses the line,”kila uta nikiingia kunalipuka,baze na ndasu hadi mafans wanashtuka!” to brag about his fame
The song’s beat production, crafted by the talented up-and-coming beatmaker Mikey, is an exquisite eargasm, blending trap and gengetone elements seamlessly. The rhythm features a mix of uncomfortable keyboard chords and synthesized electric guitar loops, creating an irresistible bounce synonymous with the gengetone genre. The trap 808’s light drumming adds prominence to the beat’s rapid frequency, while the gengetone drum patterns subtly contribute to the overall experience.The visuals for “Tupo Site,” shot and directed by Tiluthecreator and The Retrogod, keep the audience engaged through hard cuts and clever transitions, alternating between outdoor scenes and club scenes. This video perfectly complements the song’s energy, giving us a glimpse of the electrifying Nairobi nightlife and the cultural values celebrated within it.
“Tupo Site” has become an anthem for Kenyan culture, embodying the essence of Nairobi’s vibrant night scene. It’s a celebration of positive energy, urging us all to let go of our stresses and embrace the joy of the moment. Genes1s, with his diverse collaborations and authentic listening experiences, has become a prominent figure in the Kenyan music scene. Through Lil Maina’s guest verse, the song reaches an even wider audience, particularly among Kenyan teenagers who admire the rapper and comedian. Ultimately, “Tupo Site” stands out for its infectious beat, engaging visuals, and its ability to capture the spirit of a thriving cultural movement. It invites us all to the party of a lifetime, where we can dance, laugh, and savor every moment as if it were the last.
In “Rex,” the Buruklyn Boyz, a duo consisting of Ajay and Mr. Right, that are celebrated and widely recognized as elite drill rappers in the Kenyan hip-hop scene,step out of their comfort zone but still manage to make a banger.Following their acclaimed album, East Mpaka London, the duo gained popularity with their distinctive “kwani ni kesho” catchphrase, which has become synonymous with their signature Buruburu flow. The song’s psychedelic trap genre sets it apart, showcasing the duo’s creative willingness to experiment with different sounds within rap.
The beat production of “Rex” is an enthralling fusion of elements. It features an ominous keyboard chord, electric guitars, and a synthesizer that forms the rhythmic foundation. The use of various 808 patterns cleverly alters the tempo throughout the track, keeping the listener engaged. The trap 808’s, with their light but rapid hits, are prominent, contributing to the song’s intense energy. Additionally, softer drum patterns, reminiscent of rock music, blend seamlessly with the electric guitar and synthesizer cycles. The synthesizer’s raging melody amplifies feelings of anger and intensity. Notably, subtle drill 808’s are strategically placed within the verse section, aiding the rappers’ cadences and familiarizing the audience with the distinct Buruklyn Boyz sound.In other words although the song is a departure from their usual sound,there is an element of it that makes it feel like their song.The background sounds cannot go unmentioned,as it is an important aspect within psychedelic rap. The beat uses sounds like breaking glass,heavy breathing and barking dogs to create a sense of discomfort as well as to aid in storytelling. For example the barking dog sound is heard at the same time one of the rappers mentions the phrase “mbwa kali”
Themes of braggadocio and confidence dominate “Rex.” The title itself refers to a pet dog, and the choral line, “yeah my dawg ye ni pet, Rex Rex,” reinforces the motif that uses animals to draw parallels between strength and weakness. The song compares the rappers, the strong type who always win, to their competition, the weak type who consistently lose to them, likening them to different animals like mosquitoes and spiders. Celebrating masculine values, the track embraces bravado and strength, albeit in a somewhat edgy manner. The chorus performed by Ajay incorporates repetition of words and phrases, creating musicality and fostering audience participation, a skill the duo has perfected throughout their career.
With its beats and message, “Rex” is a rage anthem perfect for boosting moods during activities like going to the gym, hiking, or just vibing out with friends. As the Kenyan hip-hop scene embraces the psychedelic trap sound, the Buruklyn Boyz have demonstrated their versatility by embracing this style and delivering it with flair. In a landscape that includes stars like Asum Garvey, Groovy Jo, and Jovie Jovv, the duo’s willingness to experiment stands out, proving their creative and cultural significance. The growing popularity of the psychedelic trap sound, influenced by rage rock and spearheaded by artists like Travis Scott, Playboi Carti, and Lil Uzi Vert, is also evident in Kenya, with American rapper and producer KayCyy, of Kenyan origin, receiving worldwide acclaim.The number’s unique blend of psychedelic trap and drill rap, coupled with the celebration of masculine values, resonates with the audience and solidifies the duo’s position as a driving force in the Kenyan hip-hop scene. As they continue to make waves, their fans eagerly anticipate what musical journey the Buruklyn Boyz will take them on next.
Amiliona- Mist’riii featuring Rick Ross
In the vibrant realm of Afrobeats and Rap, a new captivating tune, “Amiliona,” has emerged, featuring the enigmatic Mist’riii and the renowned American rapper Rick Ross. Mist’riii, a Ruaka-based artist, derived her stage name from her aura of mystery, which she cleverly jazzed up with artistic flair. Her journey to collaborate with Rick Ross began through her ghostwriting endeavors on Soundbetter, where she caught the attention of a creative artist affiliated with the American rapper.
In a stroke of fate, Mist’riii found herself connected to Rick Ross, with the opportunity to work on a song together. She bought a verse from the rap heavyweight, but it came with the condition that Rick Ross must approve her hook. Determined, Mist’riii crafted a beautiful hook that secured her spot on the track. But it didn’t end there; she discovered that Rick Ross licenses his verses, leading her to pay for the feature. Despite receiving a beat she didn’t quite fancy, she persevered. Employing a reverse engineering feat, she produced a unique Afrobeats instrumental in collaboration with Nigerian beatmaker Killashay. The result was a remarkable soundscape embellished with 808 patterns, a rapid-tempo heavy drum, layered with lighter drums building up to the chorus, and a subtle yet impactful combination of flute, saxophone, keyboard, and guitar, forming the song’s captivating melody.
“Amiliona” is more than just a catchy title; it’s a clever play on words, referencing the phrase “a million.” Mist’riii derived the inspiration for the entire song from one of Rick Ross’ lines, “I make a million a month.” Despite the lighthearted jest of paying for the verse, the song’s themes are grounded in the perspective of a hustler relentlessly working towards amassing wealth. The first verse opens with the lines,”paper chaser,me dey hustle all night and day” using Nigerian pidgin to give access to a worldview that values hard work and seriousness when it comes to handling financial situations,backed up by the line ,” bout my cheddar,me never never play.” She uses the line,”me I grind like it’s my last day,”to hammer her point,while portraying a go-getter, get-to-the-bag mindset. However, this mindset isn’t merely materialistic; it stems from a desire for independence and freedom from the 9-to-5 job system that traps many. Rick Ross’ verse, while brief, epitomizes the song’s themes, emphasizing wealth and opulence, traits he has become synonymous with in the international music scene. He describes a night out with his entourage, flaunting their extravagant lifestyle through expensive jewelry and cars, indulging in lavish expenditures without restraint.
“Amiliona” carries significant cultural and creative importance. Notably, it marks the first-ever collaboration between Rick Ross and a Kenyan artist, especially one relatively unknown like Mist’riii. This groundbreaking partnership celebrates the global reach and appeal of Afrobeats, elevating the Kenyan music scene to new heights. The song’s fusion of Mist’riii’s unique perspective and the luxury rap stylings of Rick Ross creates an electrifying synergy that resonates with audiences worldwide, making “Amiliona ” an irresistible anthem on the club dancefloors and parties. It exemplifies the creativity and cultural exchange found within Afrobeats, connecting the hearts of music lovers everywhere.