Investors in Kenyan music industry will tell you that our industry is an open market filled with foreign trash to an extent that we lack a signature sound. It’s an industry built on rocks, few who manage to crack it and excel go through hell, some make it through talent, who you know and some just buy their way to the lime light.
So many artists pay to get played, perform in concerts or maintain in the limelight. Some acts don’t earn the respect they should command due to this. Many artists with the potential to at least take the county or the world by storm don’t make it bigS, some artists also gain recognition with a particular sound, performance or genre but fail to keep the wave through their careers.
Everlast is a group that hit with one song ‘Gudi Gudi’ featuring Naiboi. The group faded with the song, the only kinda active member left is Jegede. He doubles up as a producer and he is more active as a producer than a singer. His single on Vera Sidika remains a desperate move to gain recognition but not a hot joint.
Rankada on the other end is an artist who has transcended all the bounds when it comes to rapping in local dialect. He is good and a true demonstration of his ethnic background, his pride and delivery with acute kamba accent is amazing but he is still not fully occupying the space he should occupy in the mainstream. He is only shining and receiving airplay through collaborations and not through single projects.
Patricia Kihoro, Sage Chemutai must boast of vocal prowess and song writing skills but they have not gained the big name approval. And despite her proficiency with a variety of instruments, Sage is treated as an underground artist. Patricia Kihoro would a thought of as an artist who retired at the beginning of her classic career. She had a unique sound, kinda afro, sexy and ‘vintage’ in a fashion its own.
Atemi Oyunga looks and sounds like a classic afro singer, she can be rumoured as a legend who made money from other businesses but not her good music. Why is she not playing in the league of Eric Wainaina or Suzzana Owiyo?, Why is she only playing in unknown festivals and events?, why is she only starring in musical shows and sinking in uptown gutters? Atemi is that artist who can perform the national anthem before president on a national day but she is not doing it. There could be a reason she is playing below her league.
Industry big wigs traded art with the money, the game is rough, legends are pushed to the periphery and all the screaming parrots are let to conquere the core. There is no balance of musical content across the media, sub genres rule and disappoint at the same time.
H_eart the band debuted with a great song ‘kiatu’ and the song that followed ‘Nikikutazama’ was a great single too then the band went underground. They are playing slower than they started. They rarely give interviews or do large scale performances like Sauti Sol who are facing no competition. Despite their unique sound from many bands around, still they are not as big as their unique sound should make them.
From down coast Sudi Boy came in the game with a sound that had the potential to make him a household name in the future. He should be living in that future now, instead he is still more of a top singer from Mombasa doing hooks and choruses for big artists in Nairobi. He should be rivaling Otile Brown.
It plays to the advantage of the artists to be rightly rated, high. The factor of price is based on influence and number of hitting songs on the chart, style and quality of the artist and his works.