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Kenyan hip hop

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kenyan hip hop is a genre of music, and a culture that covers various forms and sub genres of hip-hop and rap originating from Kenya. It is commonly a combination of Swahili and English (Kenya's official languages) as well as Sheng and a variety of tribal languages.

Early Years

According to the documentary “Hip-Hop Colony,” the beginnings of Kenyan hip-hop was like a “new breed of colonialism,” transplanting the original styles from the Westernized world to Africa.[2] However, Kenya has not only embraced but appropriated the genre, creating its own distinct version. Since its explosion in the mid-1990s, Kenyan hip-hop is now generally written and performed not only in English but also in Swahili and in Sheng, a slang combination of the two.

In 1990, Ricky Oyaro then a teenage singer/producer made the initial impact on the Kenyan music scene with the Hip-Hop /R&B single “Renaissance” that would literally create a renaissance on the then ailing Kenyan music industry. The song received massive airplay on Radio and the then popular “Music Time” on Kenyan Television. Jimmy Gathu one of the earliest known rappers on the Kenyan scene, would soon follow with his hit song "Look, Think, Stay Alive"[3] released in 1991, a song dealing with road safety. soon after there were more and more Kenyan youths on tv rapping , a show called mizizi that aired on the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation gave them a platform to express themselves in this new art form and Kenyan Hip-hop was born, However, the first major commercial hip hop hit came in 1996 with Uhiki by Hardstone (Harrison Ngunjiri) which sampled a Kikuyu folk song and Marvin Gaye's sexual Healing,[4] produced by Tedd Josiah of the then Audio Vault Studios (now, Blue Zebra). Other popular pioneering acts were Kalamashaka with their national hit "Tafsiri Hii",[4] K-South with "Nyabaga Kodo Gakwa," (which was also sampled from a Kikuyu folk song like Uhiki by Hardstone) and also the late Poxi Presha with his break out hit "Dhako Kelo".[4]

Gidi Gidi Maji Maji emerged in 1999 with their hit "Ting Badi Malo" and released the debut album, "Ismarwa" the following year. They went on to released their popular and politically charged hit Unbwogable in 2002. The word took on the meaning of unshakable, unstoppable, or unbeatable and was subsequently used by major politicians and in 2008 in reference to then-candidate Barack Obama.[5][6]

Coinage gives the music a localized identity which adds a little spice to the genre, Ogopa Deejays term their style of music as "boomba" or "Kapuka" while Calif Records initiated a new style known as Genge. Because most of these subgenres differ very slightly sonically, Influx Swagga, one of the earliest Genge artistes, proposed a need to merge all these subgenres in Kenya into one brand, Unganika Music, meaning united, just like Bongo Flava in Tanzania, but the idea failed to kick off when Genge and boomba stakeholders failed to agree. Genge, which roughly translates to "large crowd of people", reinforces a foundational ethos of hip hop as a music for and by the people. In 2014 AD Family crafted the name SHRAP for their genre of rap music , the name is a merge of Sheng and rap.

A lot more Kenyan Mcees have stepped up and held the torch for future generations, keeping the kenyan hip-hop culture alive and preserving the stories of the countries urban youth population.


Development of the style

In the late 80s and Early 90s ,as Hip Hop was getting recognition in the global music scene , it gained a lot of airplay on Kenyan media and on seeing that majority of the rappers had features of African Origin, Kenyan youths were intrigued , they felt represented and felt the need to represent too, starting to dress and act like these rappers on television ,wearing African American urban fashion, exchanging albums, mix tapes, hip hop magazines like word up and the source, reciting song lyrics and rapping in English,[2],spreading more when Matatus painted in graffiti started playing rap music and some Kenyan artists started releasing rap influenced songs.

According to the documentary “Hip-Hop Colony,” the beginnings of Kenyan hip-hop was like a “new breed of colonialism,” transplanting the original styles from the Westernized world to Africa.[3]

Jimmy Gathu one of the earliest known rappers on the Kenyan scene, would soon follow with his hit song "Look, Think, Stay Alive"[4] released in 1991, a song dealing with road safety. soon after there were more and more Kenyan youths on tv rapping , a show called mizizi that aired on the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation gave them a platform to express themselves in this new art form and Kenyan Hip-hop was born, However, the first major commercial hip hop hit came in 1996 with Uhiki by Hardstone (Harrison Ngunjiri) which sampled a Kikuyu folk song and Marvin Gaye's sexual Healing,[5] produced by Tedd Josiah of the then Audio Vault Studios (now, Blue Zebra). Other popular pioneering acts were Kalamashaka with their national hit "Tafsiri Hii",[5] K-South with "Nyabaga Kodo Gakwa," (which was also sampled from a Kikuyu folk song like Uhiki by Hardstone) and also the late Poxi Presha with his break out hit "Dhako Kelo".[5]

Gidi Gidi Maji Maji emerged in 1999 with their hit "Ting Badi Malo" and released the debut album, "Ismarwa" the following year. They went on to released their popular and politically charged hit Unbwogable in 2002. The word took on the meaning of unshakable, unstoppable, or unbeatable and was subsequently used by major politicians and in 2008 in reference to then-candidate Barack Obama.[6][7]

Radio

According to Rebensdorf Alicia, in her article[8] under the section pertaining to Hip hop, the internet and the capital Nairobi[2] she justifies the view that the radio has and still is a huge catalyst to the growth of Hip hop in Kenya today.

Notable artists

Many artists are well known in Kenya for their style and methods of rapping [9], from its start and into the new millennium, many new groups and solo artists have emerged and the scene musically diversified. Among the most famous artists are Kalamashaka, Ukoo Flani, Necessary Noize, Monski, Hardstone, Gidi Gidi Maji Maji, Bamboo, Nameless, Jua Cali, Nonini, King Kaka, Wawesh, the late E-Sir, Camp Mulla who were nominated for Best International Act (Africa) at the 2012 BET Awards[10][11], Abbas Kubaff, STL, Nafsi huru, and Wangechi.[12]

Hip Hop Awards

The first-ever all Kenyan Hip-Hop Awards ceremony, dubbed UnKut Hip Hop Awards, was held in December 2019 with over 10,000 votes cast. some of the winners included Khaligraph Jones, Wakadinali, Monski, Vallerie Muthoni, among others, the event was hosted by UnKut Africa an entertainment organization founded by Ruby V, for lovers of Kenyan hip hop. [13]

References

  1. ^ Template:Https://www.sde.co.ke/article/2000189439/revealed-the-real-origin-of-kenyan-hip-hop
  2. ^ a b [1] Archived November 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Emerge Media Films presents HIP-HOP COLONY: The African Hip-hop Explosion - A film by Michael Wanguhu". Hiphopcolony.com. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  4. ^ "Matatu Safety Pop Video". YouTube. 2007-11-18. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  5. ^ a b c The Standard, June 9, 2007: Stars of our time
  6. ^ "Unbwogable". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  7. ^ "unbwogable". Waywordradio.org. 2005-02-04. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  8. ^ Representing the Real’: Exploring Appropriations of Hip-hop Culture in the Internet and Nairobi
  9. ^ Kenyan Hip-Hop & Rap Artists Archived March 25, 2019, at genius.com [Error: unknown archive URL]
  10. ^ {{[2]}}
  11. ^ {Archived May 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Biographies - Juliani's Biography". Ghafla.co.ke. 2009-11-02. Archived from the original on 2014-03-04. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  13. ^ https://www.the-star.co.ke/sasa/society/2020-01-20-unkut-hip-hop-award-winners-celebrated/
This page was last edited on 22 May 2020, at 12:21
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