Crispy Fresh: New Music This Week

Welcome to the latest edition of Crispy Fresh. 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! We have featured songs from Phy, Savara Octopizzo, Julixn Drizzle, and HSKE. 

1 4 U- Phy

Phy, the Kenyan singing sensation, has made a triumphant return to the music scene with her latest release, “1 4 U.” Following her victory on the televised singing competition Maisha Superstar in 2015 and the success of her debut album “Phylosophy,” Phy took a four-year hiatus, leaving fans eagerly awaiting her comeback. She recently came back into the game with the song  “Phy Alienda Wapi” (PAW),  unveiled earlier this month. The tune gives the reasons behind her prolonged absence, taking her fans on an emotional journey of self-discovery and growth.”1 4 U,”  is her second song after the comeback.

The title itself, a shortened version of “one for you,” sets the stage for the central theme of the song: love and the desire to share it with someone special. Phy adopts a persona who initially appears ambivalent about love, expressing hesitation with lines like “me sikatai unanidai, aki walai but naogopa.” However, as the song progresses, she candidly admits her true feelings, confessing, “sitadeny I want you no lie, I’m trynna find some love.” It’s a delicate balance, as the background vocalists reinforce, cautioning, “don’t you take a long time.” Phy emphasizes the importance of emotional well-being, singing, “I’m trying to be the best version of myself, if you wait for me, I need nobody else,” juxtaposed with the line “mpenzi utangoja” at the start of the second verse. Ultimately, the song’s storyline culminates in a happy ending, as the persona chooses love.

The production of “1 4 U” adds another layer to its appeal. Hendrixx Sound, the talented producer, crafts an Afro-fusion sound that combines a set of guitars, natural drums, heavy bass lines, and synthesizers. The guitars create a vibrant melodic range, from soft melodies to punk-leaning heavy bass lines. The natural drums provide a light foundation, while the 808 patterns add depth and a discotheque, punkish influence that the producer is known for. As the song progresses, an EDM pattern builds cycles of short-lived climaxes just before the hook, enhancing the dancefloor vibe. The layered background vocals, both natural harmonies and sampled additions, seamlessly blend with Phy’s soulful essence, capturing the essence of her performance.

In essence, “1 4 U” stands out as a testament to Phy’s growth as an artist. It addresses the universal desire for love while emphasizing the importance of emotional well-being before committing to romantic relationships. Phy’s captivating vocals, coupled with the lively Afro-fusion production by Hendrixx Sound, create a dancefloor anthem that resonates with listeners. This song not only showcases Phy’s creative prowess but also adds cultural significance to the evolving Afropop genre. With “1 4 U,” Phy has solidified her position as an artist who captures the essence of love and the complexities that come with it.

Wash It- Octopizzo

Octopizzo, the veteran rapper known for his socially conscious lyrics and commitment to humanitarian causes, delivers a thought-provoking anthem with his song “Wash It.” In this track, Octopizzo creatively tackles the theme of water, a subject matter that may seem unconventional but is not surprising coming from him. He begins by emphasizing the essential benefits of clean water, highlighting its importance for washing and drinking. However, he quickly transitions to shed light on the plight of the Kibera slums, his birthplace, where access to clean flowing water is a luxury for many. Octopizzo masterfully juxtaposes the advantages of having access to clean water with the harsh realities faced by those without it, referencing waterborne diseases like cholera.

In “Wash It,” Octopizzo doesn’t shy away from delving into political discourse. He boldly states, “maji nabuy na ni human right” (water is a basic human right), calling upon the political class across the continent to prioritize clean and usable water as a fundamental concern. Through his lyrics, Octopizzo sparks a call to action, urging leaders to address the structural problem of poverty that hampers access to clean water for disadvantaged families. He cleverly incorporates wordplay into his rhymes, employing double entendres related to water, such as “sisi wote tuko thirsty” (we’re all thirsty), which alludes not only to the biological need for water but also to the yearning for romance.

Octopizzo’s commitment to social issues extends beyond his music. As the CEO and founder of the Octopizzo Foundation, he actively engages in humanitarian projects that empower vulnerable and disadvantaged youth. His involvement in socio-political causes, civic education for the youth, and fundraising for refugees demonstrates his dedication to making a positive impact in society.

When it comes to the production of “Wash It,” Octopizzo takes the reins himself, showcasing his versatile skills as an artist. The beat features a high-pitched chord looped on a keyboard, serving as the main melody. However, the true genius of the production lies in the intricate 808 patterns and background sounds. The playful and bouncy gengetone-style 808 pattern takes center stage, infusing the song with energy and dynamism. Additionally, Octopizzo incorporates intermittent trap-inspired 808 patterns, a sound he is known for, adding depth to the composition. Notably, the song’s universe is skillfully enhanced through the use of various background sounds associated with water, such as flowing water, a glass filling up, and a dripping tap. These sonic elements contribute to the storytelling and immerse the listener into the thematic world of the song.

“Wash It” stands out for its powerful message and social significance. While it may not be as lyrically dense as some of Octopizzo’s previous work, it effectively communicates a vital reminder to the political class: water access is a fundamental human right. Octopizzo highlights that water has always been a socio-political issue throughout human history. Moreover, it sets an example to the younger generation of rappers that advocating for issues that affect their communities is the responsible thing to do. And so happens to make you look cool.

Listen Here.

Love U Right Away- Savara

Savara, the multi-talented Kenyan musician and producer, takes center stage with his captivating song “Love U Right Away,” showcasing his evolution as an artist. As a member of the acclaimed Afropop band Sauti Sol, Savara’s solo endeavors allow him to explore his individual style, which is a fusion of Afro-pop, kapuka, trap, and rhumba. This track serves as a testament to his ability to curate vibes and push musical boundaries.

The song immediately grabs your attention with its catchy chorus, where Savara repeatedly sings, “Owiii, I wanna love you right away.” In the verses, he skillfully articulates his desire for his love interest, expressing sentiments like “shawtty cone I give you kisses” and “every time I close my eyes, I see your beauty inside.” The lyrics ,” I wanna take you down” in this context then, leave no room for ambiguity, hinting at the passionate embrace of physical intimacy and sex. However, it’s the intricately layered production that truly sets this track apart. Savara’s talent as a producer shines through, revealing a beautifully complex arrangement that weaves together various elements. The guitar-led melody, reminiscent of acoustic indie guitars, forms the backbone of one phase, while another phase incorporates vibrant lead guitar and West African highlife-inspired drums with subtle hints of rock. The diverse use of 808 patterns adds depth to the instrumental, with Afrobeat dominating the intro and hook, seamlessly transitioning into pulsating ADM/amapiano 808s during the verses. Background harmonizing and Savara’s occasional humming further enhance the Afro-indie vibe.

The significance of “Love U Right Away” lies in its universal appeal and creative significance. The song’s production is a rich tapestry of sounds that can suit various settings, from a tranquil day at home to a lively outdoor gathering or a bustling dancefloor. DJs from different genres can find inspiration in its sonic complexity, incorporating it into their sets. Moreover, Savara’s embrace of the Afro-indie sound introduces listeners to a unique sonic experience, while also providing a platform for emerging acts to explore alternative sounds. As a true master of his craft, Savara’s production genius cannot be overlooked, solidifying his position as a trailblazer in the music scene.

Ngoriii- Julixn Drizzle featuring Asum Garvey & Hozef

Julixn Drizzle, one of Nairobi’s most beloved independent rappers, has once again captivated audiences with his latest track, “Ngoriii.” As an artist known for his versatility, Julixn has recently gravitated towards RnDrill, a genre that blends R&B with drill patterns, focusing on themes of love, romance, and heartbreak. “Ngoriii” is part of his project titled “Everybody Hates Julixn,” which serves as an extension of his RnDrill sound. However, this particular song stands out in various ways. Firstly, its sound deviates from the rest of the project, catching listeners off guard. Secondly, it is the only track on the project that features guest artists, namely Asum Garvey and Hozef, two respected lyricists in the Kenyan hip-hop scene.

The themes explored in “Ngoriii” provide a platform for the rappers to showcase their impressive flows and lyrical prowess. The song paints a harsh reality, presenting a competitive and Darwinistic world where rappers feast on those less gifted with words. Asum Garvey kickstarts this agenda, making it clear with lines like, “ati artist anadhani ye ni big ayy, fck niggs wanakorogwa na cheap stakes.” He likens himself to the Joker, claiming the title of rap anti-hero. Asum truly gets in the zone, delivering memorable bars such as, “everybody just talking ’bout the deep state, but they just talking of me in a deep way,” and “only God knows when he gonna hear me for now Imma kill y’all with the envy.” Hozef follows suit in the second verse, picking up on Asum’s energy. He starts by emphasizing how hip-hop grants him the freedom to be himself, even referencing South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero, Nelson Mandela. He compares rappers he deems inferior to mobile crime fraudsters, stating, “walishapatikana wamerudishwa safaricom.” Towards the end of his verse, he showcases his style with a four-bar sequence that exemplifies his skill, using an internal rhyme pattern that captivates the listener. His lightning-fast delivery of lines like “cypher nakupea kitu tighter, huwezi decipher unless ukuwe na wifey, diapers ndio me navalishana kwanza hao maraappers hushinda kwa cyber cafe” demonstrates why he is adored among hip-hop enthusiasts in Kenya as a cypher maestro.

The production of “Ngoriii” stands out as distinctly different from the rest of the album. With its fast-paced, high-energy beat, the song immediately grabs the listener’s attention. The melody is built upon a looped, ominous high-pitched keyboard chord, complemented by alternating trumpet notes that provide an orchestral feel reminiscent of classical music composers like Handel and J. Strauss. These instruments contribute to a melody that underscores the song’s themes. The production incorporates heavy and fast-paced hip-hop 808s, which match the looped keyboard and further add to the foreboding atmosphere. It’s worth noting that the hook section of the song offers a brief respite from the intense tempo of the verses, providing a moment of relaxation for listeners.

In essence, “Ngoriii” appeals to hip-hop aficionados who appreciate exceptional lyricism and rapid-fire flows. The song reaffirms that machine gun rapping is alive and thriving in Kenya, assuring fans that this art form is far from lost. By bringing together two lyrical masterminds, Julixn Drizzle has given Kenyan hip-hop enthusiasts a treat that will be discussed and celebrated for years to come. “Ngoriii” serves as a testament to the enduring creativity and cultural significance of the genre, solidifying Julixn’s position as a revered figure in the local hip-hop scene.

Undercover- HSKE featuring Polaris, Mayinde & Muthoni Deummer Queen

“Undercover” by HSKE featuring MDQ, Mayonde, and Polaris is a tantalizing musical collaboration that stands out.HSKE (Hottest Songs from Kenya) is an emerging record label that has made a significant impact on Kenya’s music industry. Born out of the esteemed PerFORM Music Incubator, HSKE represents a new era of talent development and artistic exploration. The PerFORM Music Incubator, established in 2019 as a joint initiative between Muthoni Music Entertainment and the Goethe-Institut’s project Jenga CCI, serves as a platform for aspiring musicians to build sustainable careers in the music business.

This electrifying song explores the emotions of a lover trapped in a relationship where their partner refuses to embrace openness. The choral phrase “mapenzi ya undercover inleta pressure” drives the main theme of the song, creating a cinematic detective motif that immerses listeners in a noir-inspired universe. The lyrics evoke a sense of the pressures experienced by undercover detectives, cleverly comparing it to the complexities of romantic relationships.The song begins with Polaris, who confesses her deep infatuation for her love interest, despite the lack of reciprocation. Her heartfelt vocals resonate as she sings, “I’m so into you, I don’t know what to do, you don’t reciprocate—too little too late.” This vulnerability sets the stage for Mayonde and MDQ to delve into the feelings of betrayal and disappointment. Mayonde’s opening line, “Nilikuaminia sana, nilikukwamilia sana,” expresses the intense trust and dedication that has been shattered. MDQ’s melodic rap verse introduces a party scene, signifying the personas moving on and engaging with other people.

The beat production in “Undercover” adds to its allure. A captivating R&B tune serves as the foundation, layered with slow-paced drumming and a melodic keyboard. The addition of synthetic 808s and lo-fi shakers injects vibrancy and dynamism into the song, enhancing its emotional impact. Electric guitars and a bassline contribute to the dark emo-punk atmosphere, creating a gritty undertone that aligns with the song’s cinematic noir sensibility. This production quality elevates “Undercover” to the level of a potential movie score or soundtrack, showcasing its versatility and appeal.

The significance of “Undercover” lies in its ability to showcase the immense talent and unique musical styles of MDQ, Mayonde, and Polaris. Their collaboration has resulted in a captivating sonic experience that transcends borders, appealing to music lovers worldwide. The synergy created by these remarkable artists demonstrates their boundless creativity and passion for music. As HSKE emerges as a pioneering force in Kenya’s music industry, their dedication to nurturing exceptional talent and promoting cultural diversity is reflected in the powerful and resonant composition of “Undercover.” This track not only stands out as a great radio song but also signifies the ongoing evolution of Kenya’s vibrant music scene.