Opinions: Of Misleading Awards…

Award shows are glamorous… Or they are supposed to be. They’re what tells the fans and the artists, who really has been working and who hasn’t and can serve as fuel for the next year’s work. Everybody likes to be honored for their work, right?

We have had numerous award shows, especially towards the end of last year but compared to what happens in the West, Kenya has a bit of distance to catch up.

Mdundo Awards, which happened about a week ago, is currently the talk of the town. Not because it’s Kenya’s first award show, it isn’t, but because they awarded Timmy TDat with the “Most Downloaded Hip Hop artist” Award for the year 2016. That’s like saying since Beyonce is a household name, it’s okay to give her an award at the Grammys, or any other award show, for “Best Hip Hop” album, no?

The sad thing is, the nominee list had “real” Hip Hop artists such as Khaligraph, Octopizzo and King Kaka. As if to put salt into injury, they also had the late E-Sir nominated in the same category. How was E-Sir supposed to compete? That means that he lost the award to TDat. Instead of giving E-Sir an honorary award for the impact he had on the music scene and his rhymes inspiring artists to date, they insisted on having him as a nominee. Have you seen Tupac or Biggie battle it out for “Best Male Hip Hop Artist” at any award show? I guess this is one of those things that we say, Only in Kenya, huh?

The moment Mdundo decided to host this show, they had their categories ready and we want to believe, they took time to vet the nominees and approve or disapprove them. This isn’t just a slip, this was intentional. Mind you, I’m not saying that any specific Hip Hop artist nominated in that category should have won but if Khaligraph, Octopizzo or King Kaka had a number of downloads, no matter what the figure was, they should have been awarded because they’re true Hip Hop artists.

When asked how he felt about winning the award, TDat said that he hadn’t really been expecting it but at the same time, he was expecting it because he had been working hard to give the fans good music, calling it a “fair” award. Which makes me wonder, does he honestly believe that his genre of music is Hop Hop? Soon after he bagged the award, Timmy also got congratulated by his label, Kaka Empire. Hold up, isn’t King Kaka supposed to be a Hip Hop artist and one of the voices for (and of) the movement? I do understand that conflict of interest, but who’s going to speak up about this level of disrespect and disgrace to legit Hip Hop artists and KE Hip Hop in general, if the Hip Hop community doesn’t speak up on it?

Mr. Jemedari, a Hip Hop artist who also happened to be the MC for the night, also didn’t say a word about the award. Sure, there probably was a cheque with his name on it, but for someone who is a “Hip Hop activist” this went away too quietly, without a word from him. Which begs the question, if he wasn’t hosting the show and was getting hit by the news just like the rest of us, would he have attempted to speak up against it?

A nominee list is supposed to be a true representation of actual happenings on the ground. It’s supposed to be a reflection of who’s really popping and who’s doing a good job while at it. No disrespect to TDat, we’re sure he works hard, has a huge following and most of his songs are hits but to nominate him in a Hip Hop category with others like The Kansol, Frasha and Kristoff just shows the lack of research from the panel and how oblivious they are about KE Hip Hop.

The truth is, Hip Hop and Kapuka aren’t the same thing and should be treated as such.

Lover of Hip Hop, content creator and presenter at Homeboyz Radio, blogger, host of Industry Nite red carpet interviews, podcaster (RK Podcast with Kevin Grands) freelance writer for KenyanVibe.