Meet Ndegz- RedRepublik Signed Artist and last year’s Pulse Music Video Awards Winner

Ndegz (Image courtesy of 1.sndcnd.com)
Ndegz (Photo Credit: soundcloud.com)

 

Ndegz is a Kenyan producer, singer, song writer and a rapper. He began his journey into the music world as a studio engineer at Enkare Studios, co- owned by Eric Wainaina and Tim Rimbui. Ndegz later co- produced and was featured in amongst Kenya’s biggest club bangers of 2011, Skamaress alongside Madtraxx and Kora. Having felt the need to re- strategize, he took a two year break from the music industry and is now back with a bang, having even scooped last year’s Break Through Video Award during the Pulse Music Video Awards for his “Twende Nyumbani” video. He describes his music as cool, sexy and kick ass and thinks that the best piece he ever wrote was “They Don’t know me” , a song that he shelved, but one that he describes as the realest he has done so far.

Your music is very diverse, with a touch of RNB, Hip- Hop and Afro- Pop. What inspires your style?

A lot, but I was raised on RNB. Therefore, a lot of my musical influence and the way I write my music comes from RNB, which is very smooth….the Boys To Men, Usher and Baby Face kind of vibe.  That’s the core influence of my music. However, later on in life I learnt of Hip- Hop and got to appreciate the Rap culture. I therefore blend the two (RNB and Hip-Hop) and fuse it with my being a product of Africa, with the need to dance being ingrained as part of our continent’s culture.   So taking bits of all of that is what makes my music what it is.

Your main target audience is the ladies which has earned you the title “Ladies Man”, why that particular group and not the men whom you probably understand better or any other group?

As much as I say my music appeals more to the ladies, I think it is to fault, because I sing music from my point of view as a man, hence lots of men can agree with me. Most people referred to Twende Nyumbani as a “Fisis’ Anthem” (Hyena Anthem), and Fisis are made mainly up of men. So much as I am singing to you as a lady, my message is coming through from a man’s point of view and men can relate. I therefore think my music does resonate with both sexes, just that I am speaking to ladies.

 

What makes Ndegz so different from any other multi- talented Kenyan artist?

My believe in myself and my brand because regardless of what happens and how things play out, I am going to be here. A lot of artists get disheartened when things do not go their way but for me, I want to be here. I might do other things but music is not something I can deny. Kenya’s Music  Industry is still young and it is about time we start uping our game. Not just as artists, but the whole structure and everyone involved.  We need to build each other and I want to be a part of that process. So even if (God forbid) I lost my voice, I wouldn’t stop being in music because I feel like I have much to offer, just from the way I think, to the way I put things together, brand myself, my art and my talent, that’s what sets me apart from the rest.

Future Collaborations you aspire to work on…

There are plenty of artists whose work I admire including Tanzania’s Joh Makini, Uganda’s Radio and Weasal and Kenya’s Kaligraph Jones, Sana, Victoria Kimani and Sauti Sol. Beyond East Africa, I would like to work with Nigeria’s  Cynthia Morgan and WizKid  and South Africa’s Heavy K production- wise.

What’s that one thing as a music creator that you would like to be remembered for even when you are no- more?

I want to leave behind a legacy that will have me be remembered for having made the most out of the least.  We are yet to reach our potential as a country and I would like to among those remembered for taking us as a country to another level. I want people to have conversations saying “Remember how Ndegz did it or…Ndegz did this and paved the way for us” And if I can be that guy who puts Kenya on the map or makes it easier for the next Kenyan artist to do what I am doing, then I would have lived a full life.

 

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The Bongo Music Take- Over

Tanzania's music duo Navy Kenzo
Tanzania’s music duo Navy Kenzo (Image courtesy of 2.bp.blogspot.com)

A few years ago, Kenyan music undoubtedly led the pack in the East African region. Yes, people did listen to Ugandan and Bongo Music, but with artists such as Redsan, Longombaz, E- Sir and Necessary Noize, the country had one hell of a vibrant and unshaken music industry. Flash- forward to 2016 and Tanzania has taken over in ways that make it almost impossible for other countries in the region to catch up.

Have you seen the quality of  music videos being put out there by Bongo artists?…. Just in case you haven’t noticed, most Tanzanian music videos are shot by A- List African music  directors among them Justin Campos, Nicky, Mike Ogike (aka God Father) and Meji Alabi. Their  demand for quality shot up so fast that at one point, most (if not all)  Tanzanian artists were shooting their videos in South Africa and even having their audios done there which in turn birthed a new Tanza/ S.A  sound.

In a recent interview on Ebru TV, Shetta (also known as Baba Kyla) revealed that Tanzanians only know of a few Kenyan artists, such as Sauti Sol, Jaguar and Prezzo. He went ahead to explain that in Tanzania, there is literally an artist in almost every house hold, leaving very little room for the accommodation of foreign music. Hence, the competition is very stiff among Tanzanian artists, forcing them to bring their A- Game, lest they be rendered worthless in the industry.  This has called for quality videos, investing in one’s brand as an artist and generally putting out good music, which are such important elements that play a major role in shaping their music.

Let’s face it; Tanzanians do know how to appreciate their own artists. Getting one million plus views on YouTube is such a common thing for Tanzanian artists that you may want to reconsider your entire music career if you are not hitting the six figure mark. The turn- out of their locals during their performances are insane (it’s typically what happens in a Kenyan concert featuring a Nigerian artist- and not just any artist, an A- list WizKid type of artist)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bG3MSa0P7w

Artists of the Swahili Speaking nation without a doubt know the value of investing in their brands, an aspect that is unfortunately not taken with the seriousness that it deserves in other parts of the region. Considering artists such as Diamond, Ali Kiba, Vanessa Mdee and Lady Jay Dee, you would understand how they have slowly created such great interest in their art beyond the East African Region. Talk of Diamond’s appointment as the official brand ambassador for DSTV and Ali Kiba’s recent signing with Sony Music Label, it is clear that well renowned brands trust them enough to have them represent their image within and outside the region.

During an interview on NTV’s the Trend,  Vanessa Mdee attributed the success of Tanzania’s music to its  structure that she revealed to be more disciplined with an entire lifestyle and culture in place, which guides artists.

Every other country in the region may have the right talent for their music industry but we can do with a few lessons from Tanzania, that will help elevate us as a continent to greater heights.

What other elements do you think have contributed to the success of Bongo music?

3 Reasons why the Yemmi Alade/ Sauti Sol collabo is amongst the best of this decade.

You’ve probably already watched Africa by Yemi Alade and Sauti Sol and thought that this has got to be amongst the best things to have happened to the continent. I do agree with you, so let’s get down to exploring the 3 major factors that have contributed to making this the outstanding collaboration that it is.

  1. Credibility

It’s one thing to say that you are proudly African, but another to have a lifestyle that constantly confirms the statement to be true.

Long before Africans had discovered the potential of afro- pop, Sauti Sol was bold enough to explore this unique genre with authenticity that was previously rare. Simple music with an acoustic feel and meaningful lyrics have characterized their music and slowly but steadily been embraced as a unique African export, that sells within and beyond the continent.

On the other hand, Yemi is one who has rightfully earned the “Mama Africa” title, through her expressive persona and exemplary dressing that constantly represents the continental values. Need I say more?…The song is a perfect piece of art consistent with who Yemi and Sauti Sol are and what they have constantly proven to believe in, making them equally believable on this one.

  1. The East and West representation

Nigeria has for a long time been thought of as the “capital of African Music.” Having an East (Kenya) and West (Nigeria) representation of Africa in the song is a brilliant idea with an undeniable inclusive approach that speaks oneness and a common vision of general continental thrive.

 

  1. Great chemistry

 

If you watched Yemmi Alade performing with Sauti Sol on Coke Studio Africa Season 3, then you would know that the boy band blends perfectly with the Nigerian star, you would think it was a group of 5. Great energy, exceptional talent that isn’t afraid to push boundaries, this is definitely a match made in heaven.

 

Boy am I glad that this wasn’t a charity kind of collaboration…(the kind that has such a big star being paid to feature on a mediocre song by an upcoming artist, after which we as the audience have to deal with the nightmare of a song but act like we like it simply because our favorite artist is on it).

Share what you think about the Yemi/ Sauti Sol collaboration too.

Music Review: Nkwatako- Sheebah Karungi

 

If there’s a song I have been listening to every single day for the past one month or so, it has to be Nkwatako by Sheebah Karungi. The beats, Sheebah’s strong personality brought out and of course the Luganda flow in it is simply amazing.

Just in case you don’t know, Sheebah was previously an Obsessions member, having joined the musical girl group in 2007 but left in 2009, with the need to change the direction of her career, as she felt she would achieve more as a solo artist. She then started her own label, alongside Chameleon’s brother Pallaso, Team No Sleep (TNS), one that till date she is a part of.

Back to Nkwatako,( Luganda for “Touch Me”), a story of two lovers who are having differences but in efforts to restore their previously good relationship. The song’s beats have an up- beat characteristic to them with a Dancehall feel, one that you could dance along to and have fun while at. Primarily done in Luganda, with a mix of English and Jamaica’s Patois language, the vocal quality is excellent, with consistency and notable confidence.

The intro is well done, slowly getting you into the song and perfectly setting it up, with a light trumpet vibe and lyrics that you would be forced to play over and over again just to get them right, in order to enjoy the song more.

The video was shot in Uganda’s Entebbe, by the country’s leading videographer Sasha Vybz, who also did Sheebah and Pallaso’s Go Down Low, Leila and Chameleon’s Relaxing as well as Iryn Ntale’s Ono Mwana. With Sheebah being the good dancer that she is, her well-choreographed moves with her dancers would have you glued to your screen while attempting to learn the moves, even with two left feet.

Behind the scenes- Nkwatako video shoot
Behind the scenes Nkwatako Video Shoot (Image courtesy of i.imgur.com)

 

The video concept of a street bash at a basement parking is certainly a breath of fresh air but unfortunately, one that was poorly executed. The non- complimentary relation between the audio and the video fails to tell the story of what exactly Sheebah is talking about on the song, which is what any good video ought to do. Besides the dancing, there is really not much worth watching.

That aside, compared to her previous songs among them Twesana, Sili Zari and  Ndiwanjawulo, this has got to be one of my personal favorite songs from Sheebah. Not to restrict her creative space, but I feel like the TNS singer delivers more when she goes for the up- beat danceable kind of songs.

Watch it and let me know what you think…