Notable Events in 2016 Responsible for Top Artists Performing in Kenya.

There’s so much that has happened in Kenya in entertainment this year. We’ve had A list celebrities such as Chris Brown headline shows in the country for the first edition of Mombasa Rocks where he shared the stage with Wizkid (who’s had a great musical year, touring with CB in the States earlier in the year).

Other acts who performed were Vanessa Mdee who, ever since she decided to take a break on media to pursue music, has been doing the damn thing, winning multiple awards and performing all over Africa as well as the States.


Ali Kiba also performed at Mombasa Rocks. Although there were slight hiccups at the show, Ali Kiba has also had a great year. He recently signed with Sony Music and has been doing quite well. He has such a loyal fan base that, MTV was forced to give him the Male Artist of the Year award which they had previously given to Wizkid. How’s that for a fan base? That’s more like a family unit.

Nazizi performed at the show as well. I don’t know how they got to that decision but I feel that in the midst of top performers and artists from (East) Africa who performed at the show, Sauti Sol would have been more fit for the show. This is no disrespect to Nazizi Hirji, by the way. The First Lady of Hip Hop has definitely left her mark on the music scene and has definitely inspired lots of female rappers to get into the game. I’m just saying that that for that particular show, someone else should have also been chosen to represent for our country.

The organizers of Mombasa Rocks promise Rihanna or Nicki Minaj in 2017 so we hope that it comes to pass. We hope that more time will be spent to market and hype the show this time round because let’s face it, how many of us actually believed that Chris Brown was going to perform at the show until after he posted a video saying that he was coming?

Also, there was a clause saying that there were not going to be any refunds if the artist didn’t show up. Perhaps this discouraged people from buying tickets?

Trey Songz was here for season 4 of Coke Studio Africa and he got to do a couple of “Kenyan” things like riding in a matatu and walking around the CBD just seeing how things were. He made a lot of ne friendships, he said, with different acts from all over Africa and I hope that something comes of it. Like a song with Nyashinski, who also took him on the matatu ride, possibly a joint show in the States with a couple of Kenyan acts that he met, in a bid to promote our music to the world? That would really be dope, right? I pray that that wasn’t his first and last time here. He said that it wouldn’t be, but you know PR. I’m only going to believe him if he comes back for a show. Hey, Trey’s people, are you reading this?


Tiwa Savage was also here for Barbeque Live, accompanied by Heavy K Drumboss. Her very first time in Kenya as well. Tiwa was just recently signed by Jay Z’s ROC Nation so maybe in 2017 we’re going to see more ROC Nation artists come through. Hey, maybe even Hov himself will come through. Can you imagine how crazy that show would be?


Then there have been events such as Blankets and Wine that have made sure we’ve had amazing shows throughout the year. From the likes of Aloe Blacc, Estelle, Kool and the Gang (last show this year) to top local acts such as Just A Band performing, BnW was the first event of its kind on Kenyan soil that revolutionized live performances. Speaking to Muthoni Ndonga (Muthoni The Drummer Queen, CEO of Blankets and Wine and Good Times Africa, she promises that in 2017, the shows are going to “come back home”.

Koroga Festival also had the entertainment scene abuzz with top acts from all over Africa. DJ Maphorisa played at one of the shows, Mafikizolo tore the stage up their electric performance, Awilo Longomba (last show of 2016) amongst others came through and made sure that revelers were entertained.


How could I forget The Plot? This year featured old school RnB acts; Ginuwine, Mya and 112. Saying that show was by the far the best one I’ve attended this year is an understatement. It was better than the best. All the nostalgic feelings each of the acts brought to life made the entire show worth it. I’d watch that show over and over and over again. Yeah, that’s how good it was.

Then the last show of the year that completely shut sh* down was Jameson Connects Kenya (Jameson Live). Headlined by Tinie Tempah, Hip Hop legend Tim Westwood was also in the country for the same show. There were top local DJs on the line up as well as artists such as Khaligraph, Femi One, Wangechi, Dela and Phy. Speaking of, is Jameson Live/ Jameson Connects Kenya supposed to be a Hip Hop show or otherwise?


Mi Casa (NZA) and Joss Stone were also other acts who performed in the country this year. Madonna and Victoria Beckham were also in the country, not for shows, but for charity and that was a really good look for the 254.

Overall, 2016 was a great year for the entertainment scene. It reminds me of the time every dancehall/ reggae artist wanted to perform here, until Sean Paul’s phone was stolen and things went left. We still have our struggles as a country but at least now we’re known as the country where top acts can perform and they’re assured of a turn out and a turn up.

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.