Welcome to the latest edition of the crispy fresh. We have highlighted five great songs that were released this week, and why they stood out for us. Enjoy.
Uko Happy – Vijana Barubaru
Kenyan music duo, Vijana Barubaru, has once again displayed their impressive songwriting skills with their latest release, “Uko Happy.” The song is a beautiful blend of R&B, rap, and Gengetone patterns that create a unique Kenyan sound palatable across multiple fan bases. The instrumental is dynamic, borrowing from Gengetone as mentioned, using lively 808s that keep the beat moving. A leading keyboard and accompanying soft guitars add a layer of #sweetness to the melody. Vijana Barubaru are a music duo from Nairobi’s Mathare area consisting of Tunku Kantu & Spikes Mshairi. Tunku Kantu is an experienced vocalist and well-respected songwriter while Spikes Mshairi is a rapper.
“Uko Happy” is a break-up song that celebrates love, which is an ironic statement, but allow us to tell you how. The persona in the song seems to be happy that his former female companion has found happiness in her new relationship. However as the song goes on, their real feelings slip through in some instances and it quickly becomes evident that the tone adopted by the artists is sarcastic. For example, Tunku sings in his verse,”nilidhani nimebuy series kumbe ni teaser” and in part of the hook “tangu umpe roho umekuwa happy giver,” which reveal his bitterness towards the situation. However, the song can also be interpreted as a love tune. The jilted persona recalls the intimate moments like cooking and watching movies together, that they shared with the ex. Spikes Mshairi’s slow-tempo verse talks about the infatuation he had for his ex and the sexual chemistry they enjoyed. He reveals that he had plans to marry her, rapping, “on my knees pilka pilka nikikufunga kiatu, ungebaki ingekuwa ring.”
“Uko Happy” is a commendable display of Vijana Barubaru’s songwriting skills. Their clever euphemistic writing is noteworthy as it gives a family-friendly option to lovers of Kenyan music. Although the song feels like a love song that one would listen to with their boo, we recommend that if they’re not open-minded, it’s best to forget it.
Popo- Willy Paul & Miss P
Popo, the latest single from Willy Paul and Miss P, is a playful and upbeat love song that will leave you feeling good. The track starts with the two artists taking turns after each line, creating a back-and-forth conversation that borrows from the Swahili poetry trope of ngonjera. The playful atmosphere is amplified by the use of the meaningless phrase “baby fall in love like peru peru pepe” in the hook. Popo serves as a nickname the lovers in the song use to refer to each other.
The song’s theme centers around a come-to-Jesus moment where the two lovers vow to leave their pasts behind and commit to each other. Miss P’s opening line sets the tone, as she sings “Boy you changed my life, I swear I want God oh, Wachana na wapenzi wa kitambo,” and Willy Paul echoes her sentiment, swapping out the word boy with girl. The song goes on to explore the held views and desires of those in the dating age bracket. The song uses a standard Bongo beat with muted reggae influence achieved with secondary bass guitar and heavy drums. A leading electric guitar forms the main melody. The Ayo Lizer produced song is a perfect addition to your playlist for when you want to get in a good mood. And you can listen to it with your boo.
It’s great to see Willy Paul and Miss P burying the hatchet and making it up to each other in the best way they know how. However, it’s important to remember that accusations of sexual harassment and rape are serious issues that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The fact that Miss P fabricated her accusations against Willy Paul is a slight to the real victims of sexual harassment and rape. As artists with a position of influence, Willy Paul and Miss P must do more to remedy the situation and raise awareness about the seriousness of these issues.
Miss Behavior- Boutrouss featuring Savara & Fathermoh
Angela hitmaker Boutrouss is back with yet another energetic track that is taking the club scene by storm. Miss Behavior, a collaboration that sees the once strictly shrap artist feature Sauti Sol’s Savara and Fathermoh from Mbuzi Gang. The song’s adult theme reveals the rappers’ pick-up lines and strategies when they spot attractive women. Boutrouss’ verse comically narrates how he once went on a date with a woman with a blessed backside, only to attract the jealousy of other men. The humor continues, as the song further reveals that the love interest being talked about maybe slow-witted. The chorus gives it away with the “ye ni mrembo lakini ye ni dander!” line. Fathermoh’s verse is just as amusing, describing how he brought a date home, only for her to destroy his electronics because she did not know how to use them.
The production blends latino reggaeton patterns into Gengetone. The song’s backbone is multiple keyboard melodies that overlap. These are accompanied by vibrant drumming and a high-pitched flute commonly used by calypso musicians. Boutrouss’ melodious prelude sets up the hook, which is performed by Fathermoh and Savara, who take turns after each line. Savara also performs a melodic verse that comes last, cementing his place as a sought-after collaborator in the Gengetone scene.
Miss Behaviour is a great club anthem that will get the ladies twerking not only on the dancefloor but on TikTok too. It wouldn’t be a surprise if it blew up on the platform, after all, Boutrouss’ Angela blew up on TikTok to become one of the biggest songs of 2023. The rapper has proven he can engineer hits, and this tune could join the many Gengetone songs that continue to become hits, proving fans that claimed the sound is dead wrong. Savara, on the other hand, solidifies himself as a Gengetone ally and collaborator to watch out for. Overall, Miss Behave is a catchy and playful song that is sure to.
Think Big- Jasper
Jasper is a young MC that was born and raised in Dandora, a neighborhood with a rich cultural legacy that has produced Kenyan hip hop greats like John Vigeti and Juliani. The young rapper seems to be following in the footsteps of his predecessors. His music is lyrically oriented, and his delivery style is hardcore. However, unlike most performers from Dandora, he mostly raps in English-something which helps him reach a wider audience.
The theme of “Think Big” is motivation; encouraging young people to follow their dreams, set goals and work to achieve them. The chorus alone speaks volumes, as it says “Think big you gotta be real, once you know the place you are going take control of your will.” Jasper also advocates for meditation and self-reflection, rapping in the first verse “You will never see happiness until you turn, to your inner self, reflect and let your ego burn”.He favors a stoic mindset, arguing that achieving in life is a solitary journey that requires one to think less of what other people think of them. This message is powerful and relevant to young people, who are constantly struggling with self-doubt and societal pressures.
The production of the song is a fusion of jazz and hip hop, with a keyboard lead and boisterous trumpets and saxophones that truly give the instrumental a jazzy DNA. The combination of drums and 808’s patterns overlap beautifully, creating an energetic and upbeat sound. This makes it perfect for a morning playlist and for energetic activities like the gym. It is refreshing to see new-school rappers like Jasper coming out of Dandora to carry the torch lit by legends, dead or alive. Young lyricists like him should be encouraged and nurtured as it is one of the most important skills in rap that give cultural prestige.
Komanii, a Kenyan singer, rapper and producer based in London, has brought us an impressive addition to the emo rap genre with his latest single TWENDE. The smooth, deeply emotional beat of this song will surely transport you to an alternative universe created by Komanii’s impressive production and delivery. The artist has also lived in the USA, making him a culturally wealthy-an advantage he uses to better his art. The instrumental is decidedly an emo trap beat that features a guitar played in a Latin style and multiple 808 patterns overlapping each other, creating a beautifully complex sound. In the background, sampled voices perfectly harmonize with the melodic flow of the performer, almost feeling like a deliberate choice. Komanii uses a high tenor throughout the whole length of the jam, boosted by the use of autotune software that keeps it at a constant volume.
The theme of the song is a triumphant celebration of a young man who has finally overcome heartbreak after struggling with it for a long time. The hook, “I can’t get you out my mind babe, when I met you I was starstruck babe, now I’m living in the limelight,” showcases how the persona is now living a fulfilling life despite having gone through a challenging experience. The second verse details how hard it was for him to finally be okay, singing “I tried hard to get over you, if you only knew.” The tune however dwells on the struggle of overcoming heartbreak, making it a quintessential sad song. Emo rap is not very popular in Kenya, therefore, it is refreshing to see a rapper-producer dedicate himself to the genre. We should do more to appreciate Kenyan musicians that live abroad. More importantly, our industry should form institutions that ensure value exchange between artists at home and those in the diaspora. This will open the markets available to Kenyan music.