A month ago we held an interview with one of Uganda’s (and East Africa’s) top artiste Bebe Cool. He’s been in the game for more than 25 years now and has probably seen it all in terms of music, having seen artistes rise and fall whilst others maintained their positions. However, on asking him to name his three favourite Kenyan artistes he only mentioned Sauti Sol, saying that he knew nobody else. He used Dela as an example.
“I just met Dela recently, I haven’t even listened to her music. So that means Kenyan artistes are a little bit lazy,” he said. It’s a statement that cause ripples, with local fans and some artistes rubbishing those claims. Sauti Sol said maybe he had a point but didn’t put it too well when it comes to pushing their music out there. Bien said that musically, we’re a music colony who’ve failed to understand each other and use the three minutes of a song to analyze and not appreciate their own. “The media is failing the musicians who are also failing the media, the media and the musicians are failing the fans who are failing the musicians and the media too,” he added. Our efforts to reach Dela to comment on the issue hit a wall as she made it clear she would not talk about it.
Going forward, days ago a story broke out on how Nyashinsky snubbed BBQ Live after demanding a pay that exceeded that of Wizkid who was the main act. The story, published by The Daily Nation, alleged that Nyash had gone ahead and asked what Wizkid was being paid before demanding the same. “He needs people to understand that Kenyan acts are just as big as the rest of these other musicians who come to perform here,” an unnamed source who spoke to The Daily Nation said. Well, maybe it’s true, maybe it’s false. But guys, can we talk about the state of Kenyan music currently right now? It is not what it should be since we’ve moved from ‘gamechangers’ to ‘gamechasers’. Back in the days, when Calif records and Ogopa Djs were the ish, Kenyan music scene ruled the airwaves in the whole of East Africa shows by Kenyan artistes used to command huge turn outs and filling up of venues. Kina Esir, Nameless, Kleptomaniacs, people would go wild whenever an event was announced that had Kenyan acts headlining it. Do you remember Mr. Vegas coming for a show, and failing to changamsha the crowd half as much as Juacali did on the same concert? Where did the rain begin beating us?
Right now, like Bien said, we’re failing ourselves 360. Why is the Kenyan music consumer listening to Naija and Bongo music more than Kapuka or Genge? Why is Diamond Platinumz being paid millions to come and sit at a club in Nairobi (together with his woman, his whole entourage of WCB) where they eat and drink on the club’s bill? Maybe, we should give a Kenyan artiste the chance, right? Well, what if we did a case study and brought Diamond Platinumz to, say Insyder Club and paid him appearance fee, then did the same a week later using a Kenyan artiste, what would be the difference? A wide margin in terms of attendance, no? So dear artiste, before you complain and throw tantrums at how much you ain’t being respected out there, look at the stats. One thing we can not debate about is that our artistes deserve respect, and that’s why days ago we complained at how harshly they’d been treated in some events recently. If we don’t support our own, nobody will. In our interview two days ago with Hip Hop rising stars Twinderets, we asked them about their sentiments on Kenyan Djs not playing Kenyan songs and their reply was simple, “Maybe that’s why our Djs have not hit continental and international skies like those from other countries.” A local musician hit out at Djs recently for asking them to vote for them
We can’t really say Kenyans do not like local music. Why are Sauti Sol huge? Why did Nyashinsky hit immediately he came back yet his music is not trap or Naija-flavoured? Let’s support our own music. Let’s do good music. Let’s network. Let’s take any small opportunity we get and run away with it. Then we’ll have more reasons as to why we should be treated like the internationally acclaimed stars and even be better than them that we do not actually need them in our shows.
So here is the thing, we’ve all failed the local music industry. It’s time everybody did what they’re meant to do right. Artistes should stop giving us complains and give us good music, the media should give good local music priority as well as the Djs. How else will international artistes know our artistes and show interest in working with them? It doesn’t have to be our artistes soliciting for collabos always!