Local vs foreign music. Does local music get enough props?

The streets have been abuzz with excitement with Black Coffee coming to town. In case you have been living under a rock, Black Coffee is due for a performance on the 19th of July courtesy of Kenya Nights and Electraficquè. The award winning South African producer and DJ will be at The Carnivore and I can barely contain myself.

With black coffee set to perform this week, the age old argument of accepting what is foreign while not giving enough credit to what is local has been dredged up again. The argument is that local artists aren’t being celebrated as much as foreign artists are. This has been true for a long time for Nigerian music in Kenya and over recent years South African music as well. The fan base for some of these artists in Kenya is only rivalled by the fans in their home countries. In a particular interview Shelia Kwamboka, Homeboyz Radio presenter and one of the organizers of Industry Night, an event that recognizes local talent in music, gave an example of Nigerian clubs and radio stations only playing Nigerian music stating that Kenya should also have such a culture.

Kenyans have this peculiar ability of embracing what is shiny and new and exciting and  different. Although this is a peculiarity, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Since we are so eager to accept and hear something different and new we have unwittingly become a hub for African music. Events such as Blankets and Wine and Safaricom Jazz Festival have helped make this happen by bringing in international acts from all over the world, and putting them alongside local acts on the same stage. This has helped improve the quality of music and the quality of the live performances being produced in the local industry.

2014 Safaricom Jazz Festival

2014 Safaricom Jazz Festival

So who is doing it right? Nigeria that will only play its own music in its radio stations, produce its own style of music or Kenya that has opened itself up to new sounds and new challenges and plays everything that’s popping internationally in its radio stations? I guess only time will tell, but with acts such as H-art the band, Sauti Sol, Elani and Fena, among many more up and coming musicians that are making some really good music, I have a really good feeling about the local music industry.

As a lover of music I feel like I live in a better world when I have the freedom to turn on the radio on an easy Sunday afternoon, tune to my local radio station, settle on some cool sounds of Black Coffee, have a cold beer and chill…just chill the afternoon away. The consumer is the winner in all of this and I’m not complaining

I'm a music & culture writer and photographer. Catch up with me on Instagram @muzikiyamtaa.