Okay, before you get all riled up about it, I’m pretty sure I’m going to make valid points. It’s what I do. I make sense. Here I go… down this slippery slope.
Kenyans are known for many things. Running, the wildlife and safaris but the music? Not yet. Not quite. Octopizzo even once said, on the record, that the only thing people know about Kenyans out there are the Tergats.
Adding onto that very short list, to some extent maybe Kenyans are known for their ruthlessness (if need be) on Twitter (KOT)? This has been seen in the numerous Kenyans vs Ugandans, Kenyans vs. Tanzanians and even Kenyans vs. Nigerians. Which takes me to the next level.
Just how do we Kenyans compare to Nigerians musically. Yes I’ve heard the discussion, play less Nigerian and South African music and more of Kenyan no matter how bad it is. The media isn’t really supporting Kenyan music etc etc. While we want to blame the media most of the time, let’s talk about this from a fan’s perspective, okay?
As a Kenyan fan, when was the last time you actually bought music from your favorite artists? I’ve been to shows where a CD was Kshs. 100 0r 200 and still after talking to the artists they say that they did OK but barely made sales of half the CDs they brought. I’ve been to shows where the CD was a free gift, a sort of “Thank You” but people won’t take any. Why? “I don’t really listen to Kenyan music…” If I had a dime…
Kenya is a hard market to sell music in. It’s known. Let’s not get into that debate.
I see people complaining about “there’s no legit Kenyan Hip Hop” but if I start a conversation about it, they don’t want to hear it because “Kenyan Hip Hop isn’t real”. Well, damn.
Next thing why do we hate Victoria Kimani so much? She wasn’t born in Kenya, she spent most of her years abroad until she decided to come back home. We’ll hate on everything she’s about. Her colorful weaves, her accent, her being signed to a Nigerian label, her singing in pidgin. What for? Has she ever said at any one time that she’s not Kenyan? Isn’t she representing for Kenya in a major way over there? Is it her fault she grew up in the States and has an accent or never really learned Swahili? What did we want her to do? Be given a contract by Chocolate City which is a major label in Africa and turn it down? Come on! Victoria will speak up about Kenyans not supporting their own and she will get bashed for it when she’s merely speaking the truth. So she sings in pidgin every now and then. What’s the big deal?
Then comes another reason I hear being thrown around. When you go to these countries, hardly ever will you hear music from another country getting played in their clubs. If they keep playing other people’s music the revelers walk out. So when has that happened in Kenya? Most of the times, and these are conversations I’ve had with a couple DJs, they say that they play what the fans want because as much as they’re making money they’re also really trying to entertain. Imagine how embarrassing it would be for the DJ if everyone walked out in the middle of a set!
Oh I’m not done. Journos on the ground in South Africa say that when it comes to concerts, they can comfortably do 25,000 people plus. Back To The City, a Hip Hop concert just happened in South Africa and word is, the local acts got more love than the international ones. If a Kenyan artist did their own version of “Fill The Dome” like Cassper Nyovest did could they sell out 20,000 tickets? Juliani held the Who Is King concert earlier this year. Not more than 500 people showed up and that’s an overstatement. Buddha Blaze himself held Nairobi Rapsody in a bid to grow the Hip Hop Culture in Kenya but not many wanted to get involved or just to pay for tickets. Most guys were looking for freebies. What for? How does that help him as a promoter keep bringing artists and ensuring that all their bills are taken care of? Oh whenever there was an American artist headlining, there were more people showing up as compared to the local acts. Wow!
Not every artist out here is making world class music but can we get behind those that are and start supporting them more? The ones that aren’t, please have a bigger vision for yourself, the Kenyan Music scene and in as much as you’re your biggest competition, place yourself where top acts are in the world. In Muthoni DQ’s words, “Do better, want better… For yourself and others.”
Kenya has so much to offer music wise and we still have a lot to learn, same way.
Not everyone is going to support Kenyan music and that’s fine by me but let’s not hear any criticism from those who don’t.