Hey there, music lovers! It’s time to update your playlist with the freshest tunes from the 254.This week we look at drops from Lilmaina, Groovy Jo, Neshry Trapan, Wave Dinero, and Bey T. Thanks to our partnership with Kapuka Kulture, we’ve got the inside scoop and detailed analysis on the hottest new Kenyan music. Get ready to groove and move to these awesome beats, and don’t forget to tell your friends. Let’s get this party started!
Multi-talented creative, Lilmaina has been a central figure in Gen Z teenage culture for the past two years, gaining recognition as a comedian on TikTok and later revealing himself as a rapper. His upcoming debut album has been highly anticipated, though it has been delayed due to the loss of his grandfather. The loss came as a shock to his fans, who had grown accustomed to seeing Lilmaina’s grandfather in his TikTok skits.
“Alert,” is dedicated to the people who use khat, a substance that is commonly consumed in urban centers throughout the country in shops known as “base ya jaba” or “base” simply. Lilmaina explains the song’s title with the line ”haka kajaba kanadai nikuwe alert,” which is part of the hook. He believes that khat allows users to enter a state of alertness. Expansively,the tune is a party anthem that encourages listeners to go out and have a good time. Lilmaina starts by telling the story of how he decides to skip church and wait for an Uber to take him out.
The beat, produced by Ndovu Kuu, is a modernized version of a genge melody. The producer adds trap 808s to a keyboard-led melody that is bouncy. DJ transition sounds in the background evoke a party mood and enhance the storytelling. The song celebrates youth and vibrancy, making it a hit among Lilmaina’s Gen Z fanbase.
Today- Groovy Jo
Groovy Jo is a force to be reckoned with in the music industry, and her latest single “Today” proves it. The femcee, who is part of a three-person cypher commissioned by sportswear giant NIKE, is making waves with her verse on the cypher. Fans and critics alike have praised her for delivering the best verse. The cypher, organized by Pulse Kenya, an entertainment outlet, is barely a week old at the time of writing this.
“Today” is a celebration of the girl boss mentality, and Groovy Jo captures it perfectly. The track starts with the empowering chorus, “I got a bag today, tell my girlfriends we are running away today,” which encourages women to focus on their careers and financial goals. The lyrics tell the story of a boy pursuing a disinterested woman. The femcee uses a scathing tone to describe the boy whom she finds unattractive. She faults him a lot but mostly highlights his insecurities and the fact that he is a player despite already having a baby mama. In the second verse, she proclaims, “Boy anadai kubamba mi nilimshow we rudi kwa mama!” making it clear that she wants nothing to do with him. The track also includes the memorable line, “me si kitanda huwezi nilaza,” which shows a woman that values her career and won’t be a stay-at-home wife.
When it comes to the production of “Today,” the beat itself is nothing short of exceptional. Groovy Jo teamed up with beatmaker Le Mario, who is no stranger to working with Shrap acts. The trap instrumental features a soft keyboard and electronic patterns made by a synthesizer. However, it’s the layered 808 patterns that really make the beat stand out. The complexity of the 808 patterns gives the beat a dynamism and dancefloor feel that is hard to resist. But what really sets Groovy Jo apart from other Shrap artistes is her unique sound that she calls Naibop. One of the most noticeable aspects of the Naibop sound is the low bass 808 patterns that are layered throughout the beat in cycles. These go perfectly with Groovy Jo’s deep alto voice and unrushed cadence. Le Mario has given her a production with her identity in this track, showing he understood the assignment.
Obvious- Bey T
Bey T’s new release, “Obvious,” is a smooth but energetic R&B track that showcases her versatility as an artist who can sing and rap. The production is a perfect blend of a keyboard and guitars, which feed off each other seamlessly and slow-timed heavy drum patterns that give the song its R&B DNA. It’s a great addition to any morning playlist, as it motivates and gets you ready to face the world.
But it’s not just the beat that makes “Obvious” appealing. The song’s theme tells a story of triumph over a bad relationship. However, this relationship isn’t a romantic one, but rather, refers to Bey T’s relationship with herself. She acknowledges that she was once feeding herself negativity, describing it as being in a dark place singing, “It was dark and I can’t go back, I was so lost for so long”. However she decided to embrace positivity and is ready for change, stating in the second verse, “now I got a plan.” The song serves as a reminder that we shouldn’t automatically assume people are happy despite their demeanors, and mental health is complicated but can still be overcome.
As a Kenyan of Ethiopian origin with American citizenship, Bey T’s cultural exposure makes her an interesting artist to watch. Her fans, who have been eagerly waiting for her new music, will be delighted with “Obvious.” Additionally, her release is a testament to the dynamism of the Nairobi R&B scene, where various artists continuously release music and outdo themselves.
CHILL- Wave Dinero & Lost Chld
CHILL, the latest track by Wave Dinero and Lost Chld, is a standout piece in the alternative rap scene in Mombasa. These two artists, together with others like Mervyn Obiero and Triggah, are making waves in the Kenyan music industry by breaking away from the traditional Swahili rap associated with the region, to deliver smooth lyrics in English. Produced by Taiyo Mobz, the lo-fi beat on CHILL is exceptional. The low-energy keyboard and the perfectly layered 808’s, together with the meticulous sampling, all blend together to give the track a unique feel.
The theme of CHILL centers around romance. The song tells the story of young men who are trying to slow down the pace of their romantic relationships. They want to take things easy and not feel pressured into any commitments. Unfortunately, their girlfriends do not take this request kindly. The hook reveals the girls’ reactions to the request, “I told her chill, she in her feelings tho.” The rappers also reference drug abuse, with Wave Dinero spitting, “Love my life it’s amazing, spliff in my hand man I’m blazing.” The song has a mellow vibe, making it the perfect sundowner tune to unwind after a long day.
Wave Dinero and Lost Chld offer a fresh alternative voice from Mombasa, one that is breaking the mold by embracing unpopular beats and delivering excellent music. The track is a testament that music is universal, and no region should be boxed into a specific sound or language. CHILL is perfect for those who want to listen to something different from the mainstream rap and hip-hop music that is popular today.
A Lot To Prove- Neshry Trapan
Nairobi’s trap scene has a consistent workhorse in Neshry Trapan, an underground artist who has been dropping at least two singles every month this year. In his latest release, “A Lot To Prove,” he issues an oracle, challenging himself to keep grinding and hold onto his dream. The song is a proclamation of optimism and resilience, a tune that is sure to lift your mood in these tough economic times.
Neshry Trapan sets the bar high for himself, idolizing Khaligraph Jones and using the legend’s achievements as a benchmark for himself in the hook where he also repeatedly proclaims “I got a lot to prove”. The song further reveals his ambition and his readiness to fight for his place in the world. He raps in the first verse, “they took my sh*t now i’m taking it back, i’m running away with it my G”. The verses also contain noteworthy takeaways, including a shoutout to his fans on Twitter. He questions the rise of alcoholism among young men, and recounts a nasty experience with the police, sparing no kindness in the words he uses to describe the institution.
The melancholic piano melody is complimented by a bass guitar that elicits the same mood. The 808 drumming patterns are well executed giving the beat life. The JJ a Beast,” instrumental is technically an emo trap beat but the rapper subverts expectations by making optimism his theme. The result is a hype song that is perfect for the outdoors or the gym. Neshry Trapan’s consistency is an amazing thing for Kenyan music, as it shows that the future is bright and the young cats are motivated to keep pushing themselves.