Before the emergence of groups such as Sauti Sol, H_art the Band, Wanavokali and other musical groups, there were other groups that pioneered urban music in the country.
8 memorable music groups from Kenya's vibrant 2000s
Tattu, Necessary Noize, Kalamashaka and other musical groups were mainstays in Kenya's musical scene in the early 2000s.
Split across different music genres, the sounds from these groups dominated the airwaves in the early and mid-2000s creating unique urban sounds which were loved by the Kenyan audience.
From Gidi Gidi & Maji Maji to Longombas and Kalamashaka, it is fair to say the groups built a foundation for today's bands.
Here are eight groups that ruled the airwaves back in the day.
1. Gidi Gidi Maji Maji
The music duo rose to prominence in the early 2000s and quickly became one of the most popular and recognizable acts in the country. Mostly because they incorporate Dholuo in their rap.
Comprised of Maji Maji (Julius Owino) and Gidi Gidi (Joseph Ogidi) the group was popular for their songs 'Unbwogable' and 'Many Faces' which were released in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
'Unbwogwable' was adopted as an anthem for Kenya's 3rd president, Mwai Kibaki's victorious presidential election campaign in 2002.
Later Gidi Gidi Maji Maji signed with the South African Gallo Record Company, they won two awards at the 2003 Kisima Music Awards.
Other tracks by the duo include 'Atoti' (2002), 'Ting Badi Malo' (2004) and 'Miela Miela' (2002).
The two rappers parted ways in 2005 to focus on solo ambitions.
Present-day, they are both radio presenters. Gidi hosts the morning show on Radio Jambo while Maji Maji hosts Ghetto Radio’s morning show.
The group consisted of the late Christian Longomba and his brother Lovy Longomba, now Prophet Lovi.
The twins were born into a musical family - their father Lovy Longomba was a member of Super Mazembe, while their grandfather Vicky Longomba was a member of TPOK Jazz. In addition, legendary Congolese musician Awilo Longomba is their uncle.
The group debuted in the Kenyan music scene in 2002 with their song 'Dondosa', which became a national hit.
Other singles released by the twins were 'Piga Makofi' (2005), 'Shika More' (2005) and their 2005 year release 'Vuta Pumz' which was a youth-targeted campaign on HIV/AIDS.
The last song by the duo was 'Queen' released in 2010 before they parted ways.
Christian Longomba passed away on in March 2021 after a battle with brain cancer while in the US where he had relocated to be with his brother Lovy who is a preacher in the United States.
3. Necessary Noize
Any Kenyan music lover in 2004 knew the lyrics to the song 'Kenyan Boy, Kenyan Girl' by hip-hop and reggae group Necessary Noize.
Necessary Noize, comprised of singer Nazizi and Wyre the Love Child.
Besides 'Kenyan Boy, Kenyan Girl' , Necessary Noize was also popular for their jams, 'Bring Back The Noize' (2000), 'Tension' (2001) and 'Bless My Room' (2006).
The group was also a member of the East African Reggae Bashment Crew, a Kenya-Uganda group formed by Ugandan star Bebe Cool.
4. Deux Vultures
The group which was originally known as Desert Vultures comprised of Nasty Thomas and Colonel Mustapha. It had more than 20 members before they gradually left, leaving the duo.
Some of the hits the group is known for include 'Adhiambo C', 'Kinyaunyau' and 'Katika' all released in 2004.
The group parted ways in 2009, Nasty Thomas went on to become a fitness trainer while Colonel Mustapha has had an on-and-off musical career over the years.
Famous for their hit song 'Tundelee' released in 2004, Kleptomaniax was among the most popular music groups which ruled the airwaves in the 2000s.
'Tuendelee' was written as a response to a diss by various hip-hop musicians who criticised the commercial Kapuka music style performed by the trio.
Comprised of Collo, Rawbar and Nyashinski, the trio made numerous hits before they parted ways in 2009 to focus on solo projects.
Collo shifted to doing gospel music, his collabo 'Bazokizo' with Bruz Newton released in 2016 was a hit. Rawbar on the other has not been active in the music scene.
Other songs by Kleptomaniax include 'Swing' (2005), 'Psycho' (2009), 'Haree' (2005) and 'Furahia' (2005).
The Dandora-based hip-hop group comprised Oteraw, Kama and Johny.
Formed in the mid-90s, the group was popular for their hit song 'Tafsiri Hii' released in 1997.
Kalamashaka crucially paved the way for Swahili hip-hop to become mainstream in Kenya. The group is popular with hardcore rap fans for their socially and politically conscious lyrics.
Other songs by the rap group include, 'Kila Saa' (2000), 'Songa Hapa' (1999), 'Fanya Mambo' (2000) and 'KKK Anthem' (2001).
7. Ukoo Flaani Mau Mau
Regarded as the pioneers of Sheng' rap, Ukoo Flaani came right after Kalamashaka who had released their first hit song ‘Tafsiri Hii’ (1997).
The name UKOO FLANI is an acronym that means 'Upendo Kote Ole wenu Ombeni Funzo La Aliyetuumba Njia Iwepo'
Ukoo Flaani tackled a wide range of social and political issues with their music, including poverty, inequality, and political corruption.
Ukoo Flaani later absorbed Kalamashaka and formed a group of more than 25 rappers.Other popular members of the group included Cannibal, Wenyeji, Wakamba Wawili, MC Kah, Mashifta, G-rongi, Abbas Kubaff and more.
Among the top songs by Ukoo Flaani is ‘Hip-Hop halisi’(2005) , 'Mizani' (2006) 'Wenyeji' (2004) and 'Angalia Saa' (2008).
The group broke up in 2000 which saw some rappers pursue solo careers while others went silent.
This was undoubtedly the most popular girl music group in the country in the early 2000s.
Tattu is from the Swahili word tatu meaning three; the group comprised lawyer Angela Ndambuki, actor Angela Mwandanda and former radio presenter Debbie Asila.
The trio started out as dancers at Phoenix Players in Nairobi, they were dancers for legendary singer Nameless during his early days in the industry.
Among their releases are 'Haiya' (2003), 'Yuwapi' (2004)featuring Tanzanian rapper AY, 'Jua Inanyesha', (2004) 'Songea', (2004) 'Come Back To Me', (2003) and 'Sijamuona' (2005) featuring Jua Cali.
The group parted ways at around 2005 to purse professional careers, Angela Ndambuki is a lawyer and the current Regional Director of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Debbie Asila moved to the US where she currently lives, while Angela Mwandanda took up acting and was also heavily involved in the corporate sector.
Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or: