This weekend,the world is celebrating 50 years of hip hop culture.Kenya is home to a vibrant rap culture that started sometime in the 90’s and naturally,the rap fanbase in the country is joining the world in these celebrations. In the spirit of these celebrations,this week’s crispy fresh exclusively features new hip hop tracks from legend Jua Cali as well as conscientious up and coming acts- Mervyn Obiero, Boeyylee,mrnayed and Kilimani’s Sabi Wu.Press play,enjoy.
Tunacheza- Jua Cali
In the vibrant world of Kenyan rap, Jua Cali stands tall as a respected household name. With an illustrious career spanning over two decades, he continues to command the studio with enviable consistency. Recently, he dropped his fifth studio album, “UTU UZIMA,” which presented a fresh side of him, eager to explore new sonic avenues while staying rooted in his Genge origins.
At the heart of this musical journey lies the infectious party anthem, “Tunacheza.” Swahili for “we are at play,” the song’s essence encapsulates carefree revelry. Imagine a cookout party where “kuku ka mbili zimechinjwa” and “vitu ka nane zinapikwa,” setting the scene of a culinary delight. The mention of beer and other libations only adds to the festive atmosphere. Once the appetites are sated, the persona beckons everyone to the dance floor with an inviting “we ingia kwa dancefloor ka umeshiba, we katika ka umeshiba.” This call isn’t just for the revelers but extends to the listeners, turning the song into an irresistible dance groove.
The song’s production seamlessly blends with its spirited narrative. Infused with the distinct charm of Amapiano, the instrumental arrangement takes center stage. The log drum, a quintessential element of Amapiano, sets the rhythm, orchestrating a vibrant dance pace. Layered with kick drums, synth bass, and pulsating 808 drops, the drumming pattern carries an undeniable energy. The melody, crafted from synthesized keyboards and intermittent piano notes, forms a captivating backdrop. In the mix, you’ll also hear exuberant background sounds like whistles and cheering crowds, elevating the mood to one of pure celebration.
Jua Cali’s significance shines bright in “Tunacheza.” As a rap legend, his enduring presence in the industry is nothing short of impressive. What’s more remarkable is his willingness to embrace sonic experimentation. “Tunacheza” serves as a bridge between two distinct worlds – Genge and Amapiano – a testament to his artistic versatility. With this anthem, Jua Cali showcases his ability to evolve while staying true to his roots, leaving a lasting imprint on a diverse audience.
ni mimi- mrnayed
In the intricate landscape of modern music, “ni mimi” emerges as a compelling testament to the transformative power of sound. The enigmatic artist behind this creation, mrnayed, is a conjurer of sonorous spells who hails from the vibrant precincts of Dagoretti South in Nairobi. His unique moniker, a fusion of ‘mr’ and elements from his name, Edmond Nonay, embodies the fusion of identities and influences that drive his musical odyssey.
Diving into the sonic cosmos of “ni mimi,” the song functions as an auditory voyage through human emotions and contemplative themes. The track opens with an ode to patience and diligence, invoking the Swahili adage, “subira huvuta heri, lakini heri ni tie bidii nisikuwe mkora.” This refrain anchors us in a realm of introspection and mindfulness. A beat switch, an audacious sonic maneuver, ushers in a new terrain where jealousy and enmity take center stage. A melodic hook, delicately offbeat, inquires, “mimi na wewe vipi, chuki ni kwa nini?” It’s a question that tugs at the cords of our own inner conflicts.
The song unfurls as a candid confession, mrnayed’s verses declaring the universality of negative emotions within the human psyche. In embracing a postmodern ethos, he asserts that emotions hold no inherent morality, but rather serve as vital conduits of our experience. The track becomes a clarion call to analyze these feelings, to fathom their origins, and transmute their energy into a force for growth. Through this prism, we see our values, our uniqueness, illuminated. For the artist, his values of self-belief and gratitude stand unwavering, echoing in his poignant lines, “and I’m blessed, never really part with my gifts, cause I invest.”
The auditory tapestry of “ni mimi ” is a testament to mrnayed’s prowess as both artist and producer. Armed with Ableton Live 11 Suite software, he deftly assembles a lo-fi symphony that marries the enigmatic timbre of a synthesized low-pitched bass guitar with a kaleidoscope of background sounds. Whistles, rustling winds, clattering pans, even the cadence of breath, intertwine to craft a psychedelic auditory journey. The tempo-altering beat switch propels us into uncharted waters, while mrnayed’s voice becomes an instrument, its autotuned reverberations a poignant layer in the melody’s mosaic.
As mrnayed himself declares, the song eludes any concrete setting, a blank canvas for listeners to color with their own interpretations. Through this auditory tapestry, we witness the crystallization of mrnayed’s artistry, a testament to his virtuosity both as a composer and a producer. “ni mimi” transcends cultural boundaries; it resonates as an ode to our shared human experience.
Feminist- Sabi Wu featuring Bueno
In the vibrant and ever-evolving tapestry of Kilimani’s rap scene, one name shines with an almost mythical aura – Sabi Wu. A virtual sentinel of the neighborhood, his witty charm and social media presence have morphed him into a grassroots defender. The rap community’s pulse beats loudly, its claim to rap royalty recognized. Yet, Sabi Wu’s appeal extends beyond his lyrical prowess; it’s his signature light-hearted demeanor, seamlessly woven into the fabric of his music.Comic themes are his rhythmic sidekicks.Enter Bueno, a figure whose mere mention is akin to dropping a rap grenade into Kenya’s fandom arena. A rap tempest in a teapot brewed from a touch of British accent and the audacious choice to deliver verses in “pure English”. Critics questioned his authenticity when he first burst into the limelight a few months ago, but he silenced them with stories of his UK escapades where he spent most of his childhood,stating it acted as a cultural incubator that leaves an indelible mark on his craft.
“Feminist” might be deceiving in title, yet the ironic premise lends this drill ballad a magnetic charm. Within its beats, we glimpse not an anthem of feminists, but a tale of two personas ensnared by high-maintenance sirens. Sabi Wu leads the lyrical charge, effortlessly charming ladies without suiting up,”unamteka na suit and tie,namteka na dredi na slippers”.A punchline lands squarely on video game novices, their strength reduced to tears over a digital football field.
Amidst this rap tapestry, feminism emerges, a phoenix in the comedic flames. Sabi Wu unironically champions women’s financial autonomy, a bridge reverberating with the anthem “sis just get that bag, life is hard already.” Bueno segues with a tempo shift, artfully weaving a tale of convincing his muse to trade a sugar daddy for his lyrical embrace, dubbing the rival an “elephant”. Amidst the cadence of “Feminist”, an entire universe unfolds, Sabi Wu’s mixtape “Freedom” reveals a mosaic of joviality and socio-political musings-it unravels themes of governance, corruption, and neo-colonial echoes. Strains of Kenya’s freedom struggle, mau mau chants, and echoes of Jomo Kenyatta’s speeches dance in harmony with contemporary tumult – the demonstrations against the rising cost of living crisis.
The sonic arena mirrors the lyrical prowess. The melody is made from a synthesized keyboard above which a boisterous trumpet is looped and layered.This makes the number lively rather than dark as is common in the drill genre. Here, Sabi Wu’s mastery surfaces as a producer, seamlessly fusing African rhythms, like the subtle jingle of shakers and the playful East African trumpet with an infectious beat.The background sounds used aid in the storytelling as well easing the listeners to anticipate the various punchlines.
“Feminist” reigns supreme in the locker room. It is a comic symphony, a lyrical haven where boys and men unite, vibing to Sabi Wu’s signature charm, Bueno’s British lilt, and a drill rhythm that surges like an untamed river. With every beat, the charm unfurls, narratives converge, and Kilimani’s soundscape embraces a kaleidoscope of stories – woven, looped, and layered.
Talking Stages-Mervyn Obiero
Mervyn Obiero, a versatile artist renowned for his roles in acting, modeling, and creative direction, delves into the intricate landscape of romantic relationships through his captivating hip hop creation, “Talking Stages.” Hailing from Kenya’s coastal region, Mervyn, also known as the 808 Baby, weaves his lyrical tapestry predominantly in English, with flavorful hints of Swahili and Sheng. He invites listeners to traverse the enigmatic realm of the “talking stage,” where individuals embark on a journey of mutual discovery, their intentions aimed at fostering a profound romantic connection.
In this rhythmic narrative, Mervyn unveils a persona yearning for connection, professing his aspirations right from the hook with the fervent line, “I really hope we make it past the talking stages.” Despite labeling this phase “complicated” and expressing a disdain for it, he embraces the challenge with hope. The artist cleverly capitalizes on seemingly mundane questions like “favorite color” and “passion,” elevating them into windows that reveal his innermost motivations and character. Herein lies the song’s allure: a multidimensional layering that opens the door for fans to intimately acquaint themselves with Mervyn Obiero.
The brilliance of “Talking Stages” lies in its nuanced exploration of conversations akin to those shared during the talking stage in real life. The spectrum of dialogue ranges from light-hearted banter to profound introspection about past relationships, personal experiences, and dreams for the future. Just as the song’s persona navigates these uncharted waters, so do listeners become engrossed in a captivating tale of vulnerability and hope.
The song’s production mirrors its emotional depth, with a seemingly minimalist backdrop belied by intricate craftsmanship. A subtle piano melody takes center stage, accompanied by a high-pitched, looping keyboard and delicate electric guitar arrangements. The drum pattern, reminiscent of spacious R&B rhythms, imbues the tune with a sense of both intimacy and grandeur. The result is a quintessential slow song that beckons couples to dance tenderly, the perfect backdrop for a romantic evening.
Kitu Iko-Boeyylee featuring BMV Goox & NinjaRacy E.T
In the pulsating heart of Nairobi’s vibrant music scene, emerges “Kitu Iko,” a shrap symphony that resonates with the urban youth’s craving for authenticity and loyalty. Boeyylee, an underground rap sensation with a penchant for trap melodies, leads the charge. Hailing from the gritty streets, his consistent dedication to the craft is undeniable, as evidenced by his previous collaborations with fellow talents like Ach13ng’ and tg.blk.
“Kitu Iko” is not just a track; it’s a sonic testimony of camaraderie and unwavering commitment. The beat production takes a familiar trap route, utilizing a mellow keyboard melody layered with haunting high-pitched piano chords that create an enigmatic undertone. A thunderous bass drum rhythm acts as the heartbeat, while the brisk 808 pattern serves as the conductor, setting the pace and guiding the artists.
Boeyylee, backed by BMV Goox and NinjaRacy E.T, crafts verses that form the core of this lyrical manifesto. The song’s thematic heart beats with messages of loyalty and genuineness. BMV Goox’s verse casts a stark contrast, exposing the harsh reality of “fake love” that some offer. His words, “buda sio lazima,” cut through, reminding listeners that authenticity triumphs over façade.NinjaRacy E.T’s verse wraps it up, a masterful display of wordplay and a nod to Nairobi’s matatu culture.
The significance of “Kitu Iko” expands beyond the confines of speakers; it’s tailor-made for outdoor gatherings, late-night radio, and even pulsating club environments. Boeyylee, BMV Goox, and NinjaRacy E.T, all independent artists, synergize in this collaboration, each contributing their unique brilliance. As the beat echoes through the city streets, it’s clear that “Kitu Iko” isn’t just a song—it’s a cultural movement, an emblem of brotherhood, and a call to embrace authenticity in a world clouded by pretense.