Kenyan Music not getting enough airplay: Tired old story!

Earlier on today, King Kaka was trending on Twitter, thanks to a comment he made at an interview at a local station,  claiming that Kenyan artists do not get enough airplay. I’m sorry, this will sound rude and I’m a huge King Kaka fan (just in case you are wondering),  but this is such a tired conversation. But for the sake of it, let’s get into it one last time and shut it down once and for all. 

Are Kenyan artists getting enough airplay on local media  as compared to their U.S/ Nigerian or even Tanzanian counterparts? Absolutely not. Do they deserve more airplay on local stations in their own country? Hell YES!

However, here’s what I think. Perhaps I am wrong, (which is unlikely) but I highly doubt that those in charge of selecting music to be played on local media do so on the basis of the artist’s country of origin. Whether it’s from Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa or Uganda, as long as it’s good music, guess what? It’s getting airplay and not just off programmers that select it to be on playlists, but also from the audience that will go out of their way to request for it.

Have you recently tuned into a local TV or radio station and counted the number of times you will hear a Nyashinski, Naiboi, Sauti Sol, Arrow Bwoy or Khaligraph Jones‘ song? Dawg! You’d run out of fingers counting. Aren’t they Kenyan artists? 

It’s about time we shift the conversation from “Kenyan artists aren’t getting enough airplay” to exploring why music from abroad, Nigeria or Tanzania is flooding our media. What are they doing that we aren’t for them to dominate in our own country? That’s how we are able to re- strategize and regain control. Anything else is a tired and meaningless talk. 

A local media station may not be playing a local artist’s music but if it’s good, people are going to request for it and the station will have no choice but to comply. It’s that simple. 

How about you, what do you think? Do Kenyan artists deserve more airplay? Let me know via the comments section below.

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Conflict between event promoters or moral duty to fans; Harmonize’s experience.

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(Creeping in, face down) I know! I know! It’s been a while since I last posted. Sorry. I really am. I’d like to say it won’t happen again but sometimes just taking time off keeps me sane. Now that that’s said, let’s talk about why we are actually gathered here. Long due but I try as much as possible to post content that will stand the test of time, which is why we are going to do this, even if it was meant to be up by last week.

You probably know that Wasafi‘s Harmonize was set to perform in Eldoret the weekend before this last one and that he did a sound check, but failed to perform  due to disagreements with the show’s promoter after failing to pay him. I was very decisive about my stand on the issue as soon as I heard of it. I knew exactly what I was going to write about because you do not play with my money, my time or my hustle. That’s just a NO! NO!  So I heard Kenyan artist Jaguar’s opinion about it and I was like, “GTFOH”. But then I read the comments on Harmonize’s post apologizing to fans that showed up at the concert and wasn’t sure how exactly I felt about it anymore.

On one hand, artists should know their worth and once they have payed their dues (I’ll explain that in a few), them being exploited  in the name of maintaining “professionalism” should be out of the question.

On the other hand, life is hard and making money is even harder. It takes a lot for someone to have spared not just their time, but also their 5 USD for tickets to come see you perform. These people probably do not even know who the promoter of the show is.  Heck they don’t even understand the structure of setting up an event and the people involved that make it all possible. Therefore, to have them as victims of your conflict as an artist with the promoter is just unfair. Whether you perform or not, these people cannot get a refund of their hard earned their money. You loose their trust. Chances are, next time you come back for a performance, a majority of those that initially showed up for your first show will not show up, simply because they assume that you as an artist initially “betrayed” them.

Now let me explain what I meant earlier on when I said that an artist that has paid their dues shouldn’t let others walk over them. It takes a huge investment of both time and money, a lot of practice and sleepless nights  to enjoy the kind of stardom that Harmonize currently enjoys. Harmonize was first perceived as a “Diamond– wannabe”. There  was a constant need to prove himself as an artist that can stand on his own and pull a crowd not because of his associations, but purely as a result of his talent. Now this is contrary to an artist that is still new to the game, trying to define their sound, understanding and proving themselves as artists, then they may need to do a couple of free gigs just to get themselves out there. All part of “paying dues”.Once that’s done, you don’t  want to  be that artist that is cool with doing free gigs, because that will definately have people questioning your worth.

You can’t have each and every promoter wanting you as an artist to perform at their gig because of the kind of crowd that you can pull, but not willing to pay you for it, simply because they know that even if they don’t pay or pay way less than you deserve, you are always going to perform as a “moral obligation” to your fans.

But then again, I wish Harmonize could find a way to make it up to his fans that actually paid and showed up for his performance. It’s WCB for crying out loud! They got stacks of cash and can figure that one out.

What do you think about Harmonize’s failure to perform? Was he justified by refusing to perform? Kindly let me know via the comments section below.

Impact by being “woke” as an artist; King Kaka’s story.

If there’s a Kenyan artist that has an amazing 2018, it has definitely got to be King Kaka. We are just getting into the 3rd and last quarter of the year but he can call it a wrap already because damn! First, he was appointed as a brand ambassador for Remy Martin, which makes him the first in East Africa and then recently became the first Kenyan artist to have ever been interviewed on one of America’s leading Hip Hop stations, Hot97,  which is also a first in East Africa. (Not to mention that his daughter was also recently appointed as a brand ambassador for Marini Naturals’ Kids’). Talk about killing it in the game.

 

Just landing the interview in itself is such a big win, not to mention that King Kaka will have Tracy Morgan featured in one of his upcoming songs but beyond all that, these were my take home from the interview. Grab yourself a pen and a notebook because these are life changing.

  1.  It’s more than just about the art.
  2. Not even the most expensive item you own could ever match up to the value of knowledge.

Now let me explain. Through his music, we got to know of King Kaka. Then came influence on those that loved his music and had been following his journey and consequently, power. In addition to his Kaka Empire Label that has provided a platform for other artists, he provides mentor-ship and runs a charity that provides sanitary towels to young girls from poor backgrounds. Much as he makes good music, at the end of the day, when the curtains come down, we will be talking more about the kind of impact that he had in society and what he used the influence and power gained from music for.

A couple of months ago, I wrote an article on the importance of being educated as an artist. It never made as much sense as it did when I watched this particular interview. And I’m not talking about being academically educated. That is important but hey! I think it’s something you could survive without . However, I couldn’t stress enough the importance of being knowledgeable about your surrounding and life in general. From discussing Hip Hop pioneers in Kenya, to the use of Swahili in Eastern Africa and it’s role in uniting different people, to colonialism, to social and economic issues pertaining to Kenya and Africa as a whole, to Kanye’s Ye album and how it sampled Kenya’s Ayub Ogada’s and James Mbarack Achieng’s lyrics , this was such an expansive interview with such a mind- engaging conversation.  (Although Rabbit did say that Mt. Kilimanjaro was in Kenya. Misinformed but everything else was spot on).

Imagine the kind of disaster that would have been, had he  not  have had meaningful contribution to the discussion. Then the perception by the West about Africans being backward (in terms of even how we think) would have been proven “true”. And based on the contribution on the discussion, they they decide whether he’s worth paying attention to or not.

I am personally such a huge fan of Tupac and despite him being long dead and gone, I am fascinated by every interview and new discovery I make of him, just because of the kind of knowledge he spit whenever he opened his mouth to speak. There’s a reason why they say he was way ahead of his time. (Probably why God took him out early).Besides the point. I highly doubt I would be as invested in Tupac had he not been smart. He had way more to offer than just the music, which is rare and that made him the influential timeless rapper that he was and continues to be.

The more you know, the more you are able to impact.

Did you watch the interview? What did you think about it?

Leave me a comment below.

 

Music contests in Africa: scam or legit?

Olawale Project fame winner
Olawale Ojo (MTN 2013 Project Fame Winner) Image source: WEB

MTN’s 2013 Project Fame winner, Olawale Ojo is now a cab driver. Big deal?! Well, I thought it wasn’t until I realized it was to everyone else. Turns out that with him having won a car and  USD 13,766 (based on today’s conversion rates) , he was expected to only do music and live a luxurious lifestyle. The kind that we see superstars live (or portray to be living) and that reminds us just how unlucky we are at life!

Back to Olawale  and he said that he had to use the car he won as a way to survive and fight depression. His story makes me (and I know it’s just not me) question why the hell do we have music contests if the “winners” only end up as “losers” in real life? I use the term “losers” very loosely so don’t come for me. OK. Maybe I should explain what exactly I mean.  Fans have such high expectations of these people, only for them eventually disappoint (musically speaking) when the contest is done.

In most cases, we have music contests where winners walk away with major record deals, a huge sum of money and sometimes brand new cars cars. It’s almost like winning the lottery, but with fame as the bonus. Whether you were rooting for the winner or not, you cannot wait to see what they do with the kind of blessing thrown their way. And then you wait….wait…..wait…..One year down the line,  a mediocre song from them to remind you they still exist and are still “chasing the dream” . If you’re lucky enough, you could get a second mediocre song and then they’re gone. That’s the last you ever get to hear from them.

Now don’t get me wrong, not all music contest winners fall off the face of the earth. I am pretty impressed by Sanaipei Tande, Yemi Alade, Ruth Matete and Alpha Rwirangira careers post- contest. Now someone explain to me whatever the hell happened Valerie Kimani, Davis Ntare and Tekno Own The Stage’s maiden winner, Shapeera. Where the hell are they? Do they still sing?

Away from music contests Olawale’s story is one that should inspire more than it should shock you. He knows what he wants, he’s doing whatever he can with what he has as a  means to support his dream. I see absolutely no wrong in that. He’s legit and self employed, which gives him flexibility that would otherwise not have existed with a 9-5. What more do we want from him? Many of us end up stuck in jobs that we hate,  unfulfilled and miserable just because we were/are not brave enough to chase our dreams. Then when we find someone that is bold enough to do it and we hate on them because they remind us that could be us, if only we could be persistent enough.

I hope that this story inspires you to chase your dream (if you haven’t been doing that already). I hope you are reminded that it’s never too late and that even as you try to survive, keep working on your long term goals.

Have a great remaining part of the week.

The ultimate music producers’ challenge Africa.

 

There’s a new challenge in town between music producers and I am super stocked about it.  It all began with a conversation between Ulopa and Kevin Provoke, in which Ulopa pointed out that Kenyan music producers had been slacking. Kevin Provoke was having none of it. So, he took it upon himself, putting up a post on his Insta, of beats that he had produced and challenging  Ulopa to respond within 24 hours,  with sicker beats of his own. But this isn’t just a challenge to Ulopa. It’s a call to anyone out there that refers to themselves  as a “producer” to rise up to the challenge and prove their worth within the shortest time possible.

I sadly have to agree with Ulopa on this one. Music producers in Kenya have taken a back seat despite the huge role that they play in the music making process. Yes, we do have artists that are killing it in the game and getting international recognition for their contribution to the art, but rarely are we paying attention to those behind the music.  We get to hear of among others Tanzania’s Nahreel, S.A’s Maphorisa, Nigeria’s Masterkraft, but hardly will you hear a Kenyan music producer that is known beyond the country’s boarders. Not that they do not exist or that they aren’t doing a good job, but because we have chosen to prioritize music artists and forget those working behind the scenes.

When you actually think about it, we have among others Naiboi, Cedo, Polycarp Otieno, RKay, Ulopa, who are all responsible for some of the biggest hits we have had in the 254  but who really cares! They’re not artists, right? (Well, actually they are but that’s not really the point here)

I’ve seen Dunga Santuri of Mandugu Digital jumping onto the challenge, as well as Tanzania’s HermyB who even called on Eric Musyoka to drop something. This would actually be a great platform to upcoming music producers who could get their name out there simply by jumping onto the challenge and proving that they too can compete with the big dogs.

I would also like to see music artists have a challenge of their own, battling for the beats created with this challenge. You want a certain beat? Then you have to work for it.  And then we can progress to actual  final music products created from it all. It’s timely, an amazing shake to the music industry and I cannot wait to see how it all unfolds.

How about you? Who are your favorite Kenyan  and even African Music producers? What do you hope would result from this challenge? Let me know via the comments section below.

New Music Video Alert; Naiboi- 2 in 1

 

There’s been so much that’s been happening within the African Music Scene including Tiwa Savage wanting to give up (which I pray never happens- what in heavens name are we supposed to do with our lives if ever she does?!), Bobi Wine’s arrest and Ommy Dimpoz being severely ill and undergoing surgery. it’s overwhelming. On the other hand, there’s been also a lot of good things happening, including Nasty C launching his own label and signing his first artist to it.

Something else that’s amazing  is Naiboi’s brand video, 2 in 1. The video features A list celebrities singing along to the song, including Tanzania’s BenPol and American- Nigerian artist WurlD.

Everyday,  I’m blown away by the kind of advantage enjoyed by artists that sing as well as produce. It’s like you become an untouchable musical genius with a whole new level of creativity.  Case in point Teknomiles, Nahreel, Don Jazzy, and Kenya’s very own Naiboi. Naiboi is one of the very few artists in Kenya who understand how to wow the Kenyan audience, while having international appeal. He found a unique sound that works for him and just him and has had it become his brand.

I have been following Naiboi’s career from the days of Rapdamu and his rebranding and growth have me in awe. I hope the support seen just by appearing on this video reflects on the other aspects of the arts industry and that we have our artists building each other.

What do you think about the song and music video?

Let me know via the comments section below.

New Music Discovery: King Saha- Biri Biri

 

While fans of this song have been jamming to it since late May this year, I’m a bit late on it, having only listened to it this past weekend. I have to admit that this is one of the most amazing music discoveries that I have made recently.  Truth is, I always had “Biri Biri”  popping up and being suggested on my playlist but for some reason, I’m always skipping it. Then last weekend happened. On my way back home after such a long day, the song came on and I was so mad at myself for not having paid attention to it earlier. It was love at the first listen. Although I was thrown into a roller coaster of emotions as I progressed through the song.

First I was amazed at how beautiful the song was. Then I was whipping uncontrollably because I thought it was Mowzey Radio and was pondering on the huge loss the music industry was at after his death. But even with all that, (you’ll be proud!) I still remembered to Shazam the song so that I could get the title………..People! I was crying for King Saha and not Mowzey Radio!

I have a friend that is really into King Saha’s music. Has been since I knew her in 2011. For me, I did not pay much attention to him until I heard this song. King Saha has such a distinct voice that’s hard to miss and mimic, with so much soul in it, which are traits he shares with the late Radio. I have read through the comments on the “Biri Biri” song and people say that he’s the only vocalist in Uganda that can take Radio’s place. I strongly disagree.

There has been and can only be one Mowzey Radio. Just like there can only be one King Saha. I’d really  hate it if music lovers and fans of the late Radio would put pressure on King Saha to take up the late’s place in the music industry, making him forget to be himself. Boxing him in such a way that he fails to explore the potential within him and experiment with his sound as he tries to fill up the late’s shoes and therefore walking along the late’s path and not his own.

King Saha has such great potential. “Alina potential” as Radio would sing. But let’s allow to him walk his own path and use his individuality to contribute something different to the music industry, other than what Radio already contributed. That’s how we honor Mowzey’s legacy and realize his vision for the music industry. King Saha can get inspiration from Radio, pick a few lessons from him, but BE King Saha. That’s all.

What do you think?

Let me know on the comments section below.

The freaky relationship between Ciara, Tekno and Tiwa Savage.

My heart is about to jump off it’s cage from excitement because even the queen of dance recognizes the beauty in African Music. By the queen of dance, I obviously mean Ciara. She has a brand new track with Nigeria‘s Teknomiles. As if that’s not enough, it was sampled from Tiwa Savage‘s Before Nko, that features D’Prince.

The official video isn’t out yet, but Ciara has been going ham on promoting the song, releasing snippets of dance videos to the song shot in South Africa’s Soweto. In the videos, Ciara and her dancers  are adorned in traditional Zulu dresses  and beaded jewelry.

While I absolutely love the fact that Ciara is celebrating different cultural elements about Africa  through the song’s beats, dance and dressing, no one can tell the African story better than an African.  Don’t get me wrong,  I LOVE Ciara. If you know me personally then you know that she is one of my favorite artists of all time. And yet still one of the most underrated female artists we have in the world. She doesn’t get the credit that she truly deserves.

That aside, I love that she actually featured and sampled African artists on the song, which is so rare for international artists. (They mostly want to “celebrate” Africa but with the least if not none association with actual Africans). You can tell the kind of authenticity aimed at with this song.

If I’m being honest, I personally had not heard Tiwa’s version of the song until Ciara came along with this rendition. With this song and the kind of influence that Ciara commands, Tiwa Savage, Tekno and D’Prince’s music careers are about to be elevated to a whole new level and I’m so stocked about that! But this isn’t about Ciara.

I would love to see the day when Africans  would stop waiting to receive recognition from outsiders in order to realize and appreciate how much we have to offer and contribute to the world. The grass always seems greener on the other side. The Western world has better structures that ensure an artists’s success more than we do. And yes,  they do have greater returns on their music more than our artists do. They are greatly advantaged when it comes to technological development and the kind of exposure that they enjoy. All that is true. But we also have the advantage of being African.

We have such great diversity and rich cultures. That’s our advantage. We have such fascinating individual and communal stories to tell, good and bad, but all of which contribute to making the continent as colorful as it is. We need to explore that before we allow others to do so and beat us at our own game. If Ciara in all her glory can recognize what impact such a collaboration and telling of the African story can make, why is it so damn hard for we ourselves to realize the power that we hold?

All I am saying is, let’s believe in ourselves more. Let’s challenge ourselves more. Let’s tell the African story  more. No one can sell Africa better than an African.

Vinka; The new girl set to revolutionize Dancehall in Uganda.

 

Vinka Uganda
Ugandan Dancehall artist Vinka (Image source; redpepper.co.ug)

You know how everyone is obssessing over Beyonce and Cardi B? Yeah well, not me. I will tell you who I am currently fixated on though. Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only Vinka from Uganda. She’s still quite a newbie in the music industry but that’s not to say that she’s one that you can ignore. I tried as I waited for her to prove herself, but here I am talking about her.

Allow me the honor of  introducing you to Vinka, just in case you haven’t heard about her. She made her debut into the entertainment industry as a dancer, before transitioning to being an artist manager at Swangz Avenue and now, one of the fastest rising Dancehall artists in Uganda.

First song I heard by Vinka was Malaika. I thought that it was Cynthia Morgan, who had decided to sing in Luganda for the sake of appealing to the Ugandan audience. Then I heard Overdose, totally loved it even without knowing the artists behind it, although I did assume that they were all men.

The video to the song was dropped and that wasn’t the only thing dropping because my jaws were on the floor. Who the hell is this fine a** eccentric girl with such a distinctive voice and a style that’s written superstar all over it? I had died and was in heaven. Just getting to sample more of her music and digging up more about her through social media was pure bliss. The girl has mad talent.

Now while she has been pit against Sheebah Karungi, (whom I absolutely adore), I  personally think that they are different, each with something unique to offer the music industry and even more incomparable personalities. Oh the diversity! If that doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will.

Vinka has just dropped a new video. Check it out and let me know what you think about it and her as an artist. Does she have a future in music?

Kindly let me know via the comments section below.

 

Africa’s first time through Davido on BET’s main stage; Was it done right?

For the very first time in history, we finally had the BET Best International Act presented on the main stage.(Applause) I can now die in peace. Such a significant milestone for the African Music Industry.

 

I’m so glad that it was the continent’s very own Davido that not only scooped that award, but got on stage and took the opportunity to shine light on Africa. He started off by paying homage to D’Banj and sending his condolences to him for loosing his child. Then he talked about how proud he was about the continent’s great influence on other cultures, before he asked people to visit Africa and sample the food and clothes.

While I’m okay with everything that was said and the fact that he made it more about Africa than himself, I wish Davido talked about what the award meant to him and other African artists alike. I wish he made recommendations as to what more could be done to make things even better for African artists, beyond just presenting the award for the Best International Act on the main stage. This was a moment to talk about other African artists in the same category and to tell people why they needed to pay attention to them as well. I wish Davido used specific examples that made people feel like they needed to come to Africa by the time they were done listening to his speech, without him having to directly tell them to visit.

Maybe I am wrong, but that’s just how I feel. However, while I want to sit here and give recommendations all day long as to what should have and should not have been said, chances are Davido might have been overwhelmed by his emotions, which would give him a free pass on this one. If I’m being honest,  I too was  bawling watching from when the nominees’ name popped up on the screens to seeing Terrence J. and LL Cool J hugging him, Jamie Foxx standing up to acknowledge him before he ran up on stage,it was such a beautiful moment and one that made me feel so proud of being African and humbled at how far we have come. I am pretty sure that if I was Davido at that moment, I would probably be chocking on my own tears and wouldn’t be able to get a word out. Then I would have to wave sheepishly and exit the stage.

That said, I think the award was well deserved and I am glad that it was Davido that represented the continent at 2018’s BET main stage. His hard work, resilience and constant push of limits will definitely get the world paying attention to the continent (and what it has to offer) for all the right reasons. Hope that J.Cole collaboration requested for will be happening soon. That should be epic.

How about you? Did you watch the BET 2018 Awards? What were your highlights of the entire event? What do you think about Davido’s win and his speech?

 

Kindly let me know via the comments section below.