Is explicit lyricism becoming the future of Kenyan music? [Pulse Contributor's Opinion]

Older generations tend to disapprove content

Microphone [Credit - B&H]

In any form of art, the creator performs best if their work is inspired by their daily, real life.

This way, they can effectively connect with their audience while attracting and retaining their attention, simply because the fans are relating to the content.

For artists to create involving and relatable material, they need complete creative freedom. Creative freedom is where there are no restrictions or limitations to what an artist can imagine or create.

In many cases, when young artists try to embrace this freedom and incorporate their daily lifestyle in their work, the older generation tends to disapprove the content.

This, because the generation was brought up under ridiculously, excessive moral codes instilled in their minds by hypocritical and extremely corrupt leaders of their time.

Back to the 80s and 90s

Taking a look back to the late 80s and early 90s when Gangsta/ Hardcore Rap was emerging in America, we find out how creative freedom is key in the prosperity of a genre.

Iconic hip hop groups like Texas's The Geto Boys, California's N.W.A, and Florida's 2 Live Crew were among the first to break the moral limits in music with their sexual and violent lyrics.

These artists faced heavy criticism and consequently, the U.S government started censoring Gangsta/Hardcore rap music.

Before this censorship, N.W.A's album Straight Outta Compton, which typically featured the rappers graphically narrating violent street tales, had sold over a million copies without the help of a major record label. This showed people were loving the content.

Throughout the 90s, other gangster rappers like Nas, New York duo Mobb Deep, Deathrow Records rappers like 2Pac and Snoop Dogg continued to release explicit music. These rappers would see huge success selling millions of records around the world.

For a long time, the Kenyan music scene hasn't had its own version of N.W.A's, The Geto Boys and 2 Live Crews daring enough to kick down the cultural gate in the industry.

With everything that goes on in the country like corruption, dirty politics, police brutality, and youth neglect by the government, it was just a matter of time before someone started releasing music saying whatever the hell they wanted to say.

Enter, Gengetone

Soon as Gengetone, the Kenyan music industry lifesaver started dominating the airwaves, it became pretty clear that the young Kenyan audience was loving the explicit content. The banning of Lamba Lolo by Gengetone group Ethics from radio and TV airplay only marked the beginning of a new wave.

Other groups and solo artists like Sailors, Boondocks Gang, Zzero Sufuri, and more would later continue popularizing the outrageous sub genre despite receiving some serious backlash from KFCB's former CEO Ezekiel Mutua.

It doesn't matter what people think, whether Gengetone is dead or alive, it has impacted other music genres in different ways.

Many artists in other genres like hip hop, pop, and even a few in the gospel sentiment have started embracing this creative freedom. Khaligraph went from rapping "...izo bangi mimi sivutangi" five years ago to "bangi zetu si huvuta hadharani" today.

Artists like Boutross and Steph Kapella who have been grinding for years, started getting the attention they deserved after Kenyans made peace with the fact that they love explicit content.

Just like Mbogi Genje, drill rappers like Wakadinali, Burukulyn Boyz, and others are shining brightly by rapping about the violent and tough life in the Kenyan slums. Their fans relate to this a lot, the reason Wakadinali's live shows are usually on fire if you've ever attended one.

With the aid of the internet, young talented folks are easily making names for themselves by making raw music straight out of the streets.

If our hypocritical politicians learn to give artists complete creative freedom, the limit will be the sky for the Kenyan entertainment industry.

The foregoing is an Opinion Article submitted to Pulse Live Kenya for publication as part of the Pulse Contributors initiative.

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.

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Timothy Mwachia is a young journalist interested in writing about entertainment and lifestyle. He has contributed news articles at Daily Rap Facts and The Dope Way and he's obsessed with knowledge - "I got a thing for watching documentaries, reading and writing," he says.


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