Close Down The Kenyan Music Industry. The House Is Dead Already!

Hurry up and loot whatever you can find. The Kenyan music industry is about to be shut down... As there's very little that's left to be admired - or restored.

After several years of hanging limp, mediocre releases, infantile beefs, intelligible garbage and a whole lot of cringe worthy music videos, the Kenyan music industry seems to have breathed out - and seems headed to death, fast, head first.

What makes us arrive at this sad conclusion is the recent MAMA AWARDS that just glitzly went down in South Africa.

Sauti Sol won. And that's a good thing. But it's sad - even terrifying - that they were (and have been)our ONLY worthy contenders in all of the array of categories spread out across the table.

Just in case you didn't know, Kenya has other musicians apart from Sauti Sol. No, seriously.

Sauti Sol performing with Yemi Alade in South Africa Photo/Sauti Sol

We have Nameless and Wahu and Redsan and Wyre and Nazizi and Willy Paul and a billion other acts most of who, to be brutally honest, are just a bunch of lyrically-challenged, girl-obsessed masters of illiteracy and mediocrity.

And that's where we throw in Timmy Tdat and pretty much every other thing that records at to simply choke up the nightclubs with bland, perishable dance anthems.

Sauti Sol has been doing mighty things all these years, hence the flurry of nominations and wins, but for the love of God, where is the rest of the gang?

Besides the couple of stoned hip-hop heads who gather at Alliance France every Friday evening, Java cup in hand, who else is a fan of Wangechi?

Besides the 16,000 YouTube yobs who live for a couple wordplays and sleek punchlines who else is a fan of Rabbit?

Where can we even find authentic Redsan fans?

Who knows Kristoff beyond Thika Road?

Oh, Khaligraph? What about him again? He's a big deal? Where else? Besides across the slummy circles that swear by a man who used to sell cigarettes?

Is Octopizzo even rapping anymore? Oh he is? I thought he moved into being a full time father, sleep - deprived Instagrammer and a caregiver of a couple Kakuma refugees.

Our acts are a joke. A bad, dry joke. And our DJs aren't even helping.

I mean, we have Diamond Platnumz pushing collaborations with the likes of Neyo and then we have Wahu working with Sudi Boy - and DJ Creme de la Creme - to give us a totally pointless song we immediately forgot about.


There was a time we had Wahu and Amani and all these other big shots getting all these international nods and even plays. Actually,they even used to win.

But Amani moved on to raising rabbits. And we aren't sure Juacali even knows what the hell he's doing anymore.

What Happened? Kenyan Music legend Jua Cali

Dying stars? Wahu and Namaless Photo/Ken Karuthi

Our entire music industry has been rundown by cheap, Pacho-inspired rotten bouncy beats meant to whip up ratchet girls and bummed out college kids. With torn backpacks and no real homes.

Besides Sauti Sol, who have been allover the place all these years, no one else seems to be getting it - or caring.

Our biggest names have all gone under or focused on raising their families and agriculture.

While our new kids on the block are like your younger brother who fell out of college to chase a career that's defined by stupidity, trashy Instagram, lame collabos and funny pink online tuxedos.

While Nigeria is bursting at the seams with all this mighty talent (both old and new) we are stuck with some teenage kid who relishes sitting on the President's chair and whining his day away.... For his little, teenage gang of losers.

For every Tekno, Rayvanny, Minz Korede Bello or Di'Ja what do we have to produce?

We're stuck with an industry that's so grossly inward looking, so limited, so fixated on simplicity and locality, so thin and so myopic we can't even make an impact right across the borders - leave alone continentwide.

After all these years, our acts,  our industry and our talents have refused to hatch a dominant plan that makes them not just local artists but continental supernovae.

All this years, our talents have watched new acts from elsewhere come and take over their own industry.

We've allowed Tanzanian acts come and ravage our own soil, come and own our own spaces, steal our own fans, dominate our own airwaves and crow like royal cockerels in our own musical neighborhoods.

Our industry has been intimidated and swept clean - our best acts have been silenced and compromised as we continue churning out stuff of Bahati's insipid calibre.

Stuff that cannot even compete with the lowest of Sudanese upstarts in downtown Juba.

Nigerian music star Tiwa Savage Photo/Youtube

For instance, who is our Yemi Alade? Our Tiwa Savage? Our Vanessa Mdee? Our Di'ja? Who among our female artists?

And please don't even get me started on Akothee.... We all know we can do better. In fact, should do better.

What if (God forbid) Sauti Sol were to break up? Or move to Holland to start families and never have to sing again... Who would be left round to still fly our flag high? Who would always shine for us at those international award ceremonies? Would we even have an industry to talk of in the first place?

Suppose Sauti Sol were to retire and Fancy Fingers was forced to hang up his guitar? Who would still shine bright for us? For our little, ravaged country? Heck, who would we even send to the State House to entertain our dignified guests? Bahati? Again? Lord please.

The only Awards our local artist still look forward to and lust after are our locally assembled Awards that are normally so obscenely rigged,so noisy and marred in sophomoric beefs no one takes them seriously any more.

Actually,we don't even have Awards outside of the Gospel realm.

That's an industry that has died so much, crumbled so much, hurt so deep, I cringe at the very thought of it.

It's time we let Sauti Sol rest and time we helped them shine on our behalf too.

One boy band cannot be the dominant sound of the nation for half a decade. One boyband cannot continue being the synonym to Kenyan Music for the next half a decade.

And one boy band cannot continue being the face of the crumbling industry for the next generation. Sauti Sol, like the Maasais and the Lions and the Savanah, has become the other face of Kenya.

And yet we have tons and tons of artists who hit the studio daily. And release new 'songs' daily.

If only these new singles had a more crossover appeal, if only these songs didn't just confine their sound to the Nairobi City borders, if only our artists cared more than just the occasional concert at a William Ruto event, if only our talents had better songwriters, better visions, better management, better drive and if only we didn't just do songs to get people all sweaty and sticky at crammed house parties in Buru Buru.

But as the rest of Africa (and Sauti Sol) continues sweeping away the continent, bagging award after award, driving markets wild and even getting nods from international music channels, the rest of our industry players will continue churning out baby class rhymes, house party anthems, William Ruto tunes and dreary, Jesus-ish mumblings for a half-drunk, half-broke Christian audience.

Kill the remaining part of the industry already. And I'll announce the funeral - it's this Friday.

Name a cemetery and I'll be there!


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