Crispy Fresh: What’s Poppin’ From The Kenyan Music Scene

Hey music aficionados! Are you ready to elevate your playlist with the freshest Kenyan tunes? We’ve got a vibrant lineup of tracks that will ignite your senses and keep you grooving all day long.

Introducing “Ankulapo” by Fena Gitu, a high-energy Afro-pop anthem that will have you moving your feet to the infectious rhythm. Next up, we have “How I Do” by Victoria Kimani, a captivating blend of R&B and Afrobeat that showcases her soulful vocals and undeniable charisma. Prepare to be blown away by the soul-stirring melodies of “For Real” by Thee Exit Band, an alternative rock masterpiece that delves deep into the human experience. Then, let Caleb Awiti’s “Take Your Time” whisk you away on a melodic journey filled with heartfelt lyrics and captivating instrumentation.

Lastly, immerse yourself in the sonic brilliance of “PHILOSOPHY” by KiliHippie featuring BoiBlacc & 2.E, a fusion of genres that pushes boundaries and challenges conventions. Thanks to our incredible partnership with Kapuka Kulture, we bring you exclusive insights and profound analysis of these sensational Kenyan tracks. So, grab your headphones, gather your friends, and let the music transport you to a world of rhythm and bliss. It’s time to embrace the beats and share the excitement with fellow music enthusiasts. Get ready to immerse yourself in the magic of Kenyan music!

Fena Gitu an unmistakable powerhouse of the Kenyan music industry, has once again captured our attention with her latest release, “Ankulapo.” This track, belonging to her third studio album, Love Art Lust, delves into the interconnected themes of love, art, and lust, forming a multifaceted narrative that resonates with audiences of various backgrounds. The clever wordplay in the title of the song is  reminiscent of Kunle Afoloyan’s acclaimed film Anikulapo, which won an award at the recent edition of the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award(AMVCA). Unrelated to the movie’s storyline about a Saro who has the power to resurrect the dead,Fena Gitu’s “Ankulapo” carries a hyper-charged sexual theme, as implied by its Swahili translation, “when they eat me.” The singer utilizes misquoted Swahili proverbs, infusing playful humor into the lyrics and creating a delightful and cheeky experience for listeners. Some examples of these statements include, “asiye funzwa na mamaye ,afunzwe na babu ana twitter” ,”ukitaka utakipata,na ukipata usilie mbwata” and ” ukistaajabu ya ulimwengu ,you’ll end up bitter”

Ankulapo- Fena Gitu

ILOGOS, Fena Gitu’s long-time collaborator, skillfully produces the tune, lending his expertise to oversee the entire Love Art Lust album’s production. The R&B melody, executed by a vibrant keyboard and slow-paced heavy drum patterns, sets the stage for an intimate yet energetic ambiance. The incorporation of Afro-sound 808s adds a vibrant touch, while background vocals and chants infuse an unmistakable African flavor into the composition. As the instrumental reaches its climax, the high-pitched flutes, a trademark of ILOGOS, create a captivating cyclical loop that intensifies the overall sonic experience. The combination of these elements forms a mesmerizing sonic landscape, making “Ankulapo” stand out from the album.

The number finds its ideal setting when enjoyed with a significant other. It’s captivating intimacy and infectious energy make it the perfect soundtrack for shared moments of connection. This song, however, holds a deeper significance for women. Fena Gitu assumes the role of a wise aunty, guiding and encouraging young girls to explore their own sexual pleasure. Through her lyrics, she empowers women to embrace their desires and enjoy the joys of adulthood. With Love Art Lust, Fena solidifies her position as a legendary figure in the Kenyan music scene, cementing her legacy as a household name and a proven hitmaker.

Listen Here.

How I Do- Victoria Kimani 

Victoria Kimani’s latest offering, “How I Do,” is an electrifying fusion of Afropop and R&B that showcases her unique musicality and enigmatic persona. The Kenyan-born singer, songwriter, and entertainer, widely regarded as an icon in the African music game, has crafted a track that captures the essence of her mystique while pushing the boundaries of genre conventions.

Produced by the talented Kayo Musiq, known for his minimalist approach to Afrobeats, “How I Do” utilizes a keyboard-driven melody as its foundation. Building upon this, jazzy wind instruments influenced by West African highlife add a captivating layer to the composition, while elements of amapiano, such as the pulsating 808s, infuse the instrumental with an infectious energy that transitions seamlessly between sections.The use of ADM patterns strategically builds momentum, culminating in an irresistible climax during the chorus. One of the standout features of the song is Victoria’s unconventional vocal delivery, characterized by her high-pitched intonation. Her voice serves as a distinct musical instrument, further contributing to the enigmatic allure of “How I Do.” The production’s inclusion of machine gun sound motifs and gangster lingo in the bridge reinforces the rebellious spirit that permeates the track, creating an edgy and captivating sonic experience.

Thematically, the song and its performer are intertwined, each enhancing the other’s mysterious persona. “How I Do” serves as an explanation of the artist’s way of life, portraying her as a cool and carefree party girl who embraces rule-breaking. With defiant lines like “We don’t follow rules” and “All rules are meant to be broken,” Victoria asserts her independent spirit. The lyrics also reflect her confidence as a winner, proclaiming, “I don’t play to lose,” while simultaneously conveying her nonchalant attitude towards pettiness and vengeance, as she chooses to rise above negativity with the line, “They go low, me I stay high.” 

Victoria Kimani, a musical legend who consistently delivers exceptional music, has solidified her relevance in the industry by constantly reinventing herself. As an artist who has lived in both Nigeria and Ghana, she bridges the cultural divides between East and West Africa, creating a truly Pan-African sound that celebrates the rich musical heritages of both regions. With its mystical allure, rebellious themes, and infectious production, “How I Do” resonates with a wide audience, making it a teenage anthem and an irresistible addition to any dancefloor.

For Real- Thee Exit Band 

Thee Exit Band, consisting of Maxwell Otieno, Meletas Javan Juma, and Kevin Athumani, has quickly gained the love and admiration of Kenyan music lovers with their impressive roles in previous hits like “Mapenzj Raha,” “Pombe” featuring Teslah & Chan Chan, and the smash hit “Kuna Kuna” alongside Brandy Maina, Joefes, and Savara. Their versatile music style can be best described as a fusion of Bongo and Gengetone, two genres that heavily influence their work. As a newly formed music recording band, they have flourished and gained popularity for their captivating cadences and engaging style of writing, which has resonated well with audiences.

In their song “For Real,” Thee Exit Band explores the theme of falling in love, beautifully captured in the choral phrase “for real, for real nime-fall in love.” The lyrics use simple yet meaningful language, devoid of vulgarity. The band portrays falling in love as a journey, as evidenced by the line “Mapenzi ni safari, nishapanda yangu gari.” The persona in the song is willing to forsake attention from other love interests to be with their beloved, affectionately referred to as a queen who occupies their thoughts persistently. The persona exhibits patience, determined to convince their love interest that they are the one, even in the face of skepticism. The line “bado nampenda, hata akinitenda, siku zaenda mwisho wa kalenda” exemplifies this unwavering commitment. The open-ended story leaves us wondering if the love interest reciprocates the persona’s affection, adding a layer of intrigue to the narrative. The production of “For Real,” is handled by Ayoo Sean, showcases his signature touch in the mid-section of the song, distinguishing his work from other beat makers who typically place their tags at the start or end. The bongo beat, infused with Latin inspiration, creates a lively atmosphere with playful electric guitars and a mid-paced keyboard driving the main melody. The drumming patterns, reminiscent of soft rock, contribute to the song’s smoothness. An  actual drum kit is used to achieve this, alongside a layer of synthetic 808’s added to enhance the rhythm

The tune is great for intimate environments, catering to lovers seeking a heartfelt experience. The song’s slow tempo sets a relaxed ambiance, making it all the more suitable for romantic encounters. Furthermore, the use of simple and unproblematic language makes it an excellent choice for radio play and family-friendly settings, allowing a wider audience to appreciate its beauty.Thee Exit Band’s dedication to their craft shines through their expanding catalog of impressive additions. They are redefining the Bongo genre by infusing it with a modern edge. Hailing from coastal Kenya, their sound sets them apart from their regional counterparts. Thee Exit Band continues to make their mark, leaving a lasting impact on the music scene while staying true to their roots.

Listen Here.

Take Your Time- Caleb Awiti

Caleb Awiti, the highly rated youngster from Mombasa, latest track,”Take Your Time” makes it into this week’s list. Known for his smooth, entrancing vocals and signature delivery style, Caleb effortlessly straddles in the world Alte/R&B, creating a mesmerizing experience for his listeners. This sensual dance anthem is a true testament to his talent, with lyrics that explore the complexities of love and relationships.

The song immediately grabs your attention with its opening line, “Bad man she calls me sexy, I really wanna dance with you sexually.” Caleb’s seductive wordplay and confident persona draw you into his world. He skillfully weaves a story through his lyrics, using dance as a metaphor for the ups and downs of love. The persona does not shy from praising the physical beauty of his love interest, commenting on things like the fit of her jeans. His boldness shines through in the way he is not afraid of asking to be loved in his own way. He also expresses his desire to commit, singing, “I don’t want these women texting me” and “I wanna make you my wife.” The phrase “if you wanna take your time” ultimately shows that the persona is also patient and wants to foster an environment of trust even as he shows his love. The production of “Take Your Time” is equally captivating. The alte beat combines elements of Afrobeats, pop, and R&B, creating a unique sonic landscape. A keyboard takes the lead, subtly mimicking a dancehall tune and setting the mood for the song. The drum patterns add depth and energy, with a softer, slow-paced R&B pattern intertwining with a vibrant Afrobeats pattern. African shakers and Afrobeat 808s flavor the song, infusing it with a distinct cultural vibe.

Caleb Awiti’s latest offering is not just a certified club anthem; it also showcases the growth and experimentation happening within the Kenyan alte scene. Caleb’s ability to deliver emotionally resonant lyrics while still creating infectious club-friendly bangers sets him apart as a truly versatile artist. His music speaks to the hearts of his fans, and “Take Your Time” is no exception. With its irresistible blend of sensuality, captivating vocals, and genre-bending production, this song stands out as a creative and cultural milestone, solidifying Caleb Awiti’s place in the forefront of the East African music scene.

PHILOSOPHY- KiliHippie featuring BoiBlacc & 2.E

In the realm of conscious rap, a captivating tune titled “Philosophy” emerges as a testament to the power of intellect and introspection. Produced by the enigmatic KiliHippie, known for his experimental hip hop beats, this track stands out for its ability to seamlessly weave together a plethora of concepts and ideas. As the song unfolds, it becomes clear that the lack of a unifying theme is a deliberate choice, highlighted by the absence of a traditional hook. Instead, KiliHippie, alongside BoiBlacc and 2.E from the multidisciplinary collective Family Friends, embarks on a lyrical journey that implores listeners to seek wisdom and personal growth.

BoiBlacc, in the first verse, delves into his pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement, asserting his dedication with the proclamation, “man, you’re busy doing God knows what, I’m doing me.” He also encourages artists to collaborate rather than fight-rapping .”wasaani huteta badala ya ku-cooperate” while calling out those with hollow achievements and more than 20,000 followers but nothing substantial to show for it. With clever wordplay, he uses the term “head” to reference both leadership and oral sex, adding depth and intrigue to his verses. 2.E follows suit in the second verse, employing the same double entendre with the line, “me ni leader, me ni head, so if I give myself to you, then nakupea head.” He addresses the importance of patience in the pursuit of dreams, confronting the prevalence of lies and deceit with the biting remark, “mnaficha ukweli na concealer”  Resolute in his refusal to let negativity hinder his progress, 2.E delivers a promise to rise above the sneaky and the haters: “mko sneaky, kiziwi kwa mahater mi ni kiziwi”.Both rappers skillfully integrate references to classical and renaissance philosophers and artists, invoking the likes of Plato, Picasso, Van Gogh, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michelangelo. Their profound lyrical ability and technical rapping skills highlight their devotion to their craft and add an exhilarating dimension to the song.

In terms of production, KiliHippie once again proves his mastery of alternative hip hop beats. Drawing inspiration from a diverse range of sounds, including psychedelia, old-school rap, and traditional African and Pacific music, he creates a sonic landscape that defies expectations. The instrumental for “Philosophy” deconstructs an old-school rap beat and replaces the conventional chop and scratch patterns with synthesized tribal instruments. The inclusion of a xylophone and a stringed instrument, possibly a ukulele or a lyre, adds an intriguing flavor to the composition. Combined with traditional tribal drums and the playful touch of 808 basslines, the beat subverts the notion that philosophical discussions must be somber, infusing the track with a refreshing liveliness.

“Philosophy” finds its place among the hip hopheads, resonating deeply with those seeking substance and introspection in their music. Its significance lies in KiliHippie’s boundary-pushing experimentation within the realm of alternative rap in Kenya. Furthermore, the confident and expert delivery of conscious rap by BoiBlacc and 2.E serves as a testament to the thriving future of lyrical rap. As this thought-provoking track blurs the boundaries between art and philosophy, it inspires listeners and offers a glimpse into the profound potential of hip hop as a creative and cultural force.