What Kenyan musicians should do to earn our loyalty

If you are an artist, never forget the fact that before you earn that royalty, you need the fans loyalty.

I love music, and I think what it does to the soul and a stressed mind is magical. Sometimes after you’ve had a bad day, all you want to do is sit down and just put on that favorite song on your playlist. If you frequently use public transport like me to commute, all you’re looking forward to is getting a comfortable seat, plucking in the earphones or putting on those headphones, pressing play, leaning back on your chair and closing your eyes.

I honestly love music (I believe you love it as well), and to be specific, hip hop is my favorite genre which unfortunately most “refined” people of our society hate. Those people have their reasons and what I’m not going to do is waste my time discrediting their concerns about it, or try to defend my choice. That’s not my job. I have my reasons to why I love hip hop and all the other forms of rap music, just like anyone else who hates it. I can give you a dozen reasons, from the art of its lyricism to its thrilling delivery style that’s so unique from one artist to another, to the swag associated with its performers.

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For a very long time, hip hop – maybe reggae to some extend – has been the mirror of the society, reflecting back our lives and our world as a whole. The progress of a society is partly reflected in the music we listen to. The evils and all the other atrocities perpetrated; the violence, rape, murder, corruption, robbery, is all a reflection of the symptoms of a sick society, and it’s all reflected in the music.

And the message is always very clear, especially in rap. If you manage to churn out the beats and all the other noise, you would be left with only a poem with a message so distinct. The feelings and emotions of the artist when he or she was writing that song can be felt by you the listener, and if you happen to live in that particular society, can always relate. If the mood of the artist was bad, at the end of the song you’ll be feeling the same way.

When you hear that American rapper talking guns and all his victims in gangs related violence, just know it’s the reality of his or her world. You see someone dedicating a whole verse to cocaine and other hard drugs, don’t judge him, maybe you should first point a finger at the whole society. He’s just a product of his ambiance, the society in which he was raised in. All of us have failed him.

Someone doesn’t just wake up one day and start cursing and using vulgar words and foul language in his or her music, the same music they expect people to buy and listen to. They grew up that way. They grew up listening to their own parents and all those around them use the same language, and so you just can’t ask them to stop, they won’t. They don’t know a polite way of expressing themselves.

Have you ever wondered why people still listen to Tupac, almost 23 years after his death? Today we’ve millenials joining his already cult like following and proudly talking of his music as if they knew him in person. It’s because his music is still relevant today, and the issues he talked about all those years ago in his music, are still the same issues most of us are grappling with today in 2019.

I have a problem when it comes to our local rappers and hip hop artists. Most of them are too busy aping the West to sit down and write a real verse that can leave fans thinking hard. Other than, I think Nyashinsky, very few rappers are doing music that can challenge us to be better people. Apart from spending all their time braiding their hair, singing about money they obviously don’t have – else we would be seeing the Lamborghini and Rolls Royce they keep mentioning in their music on our roads — and sometimes hitting the stage half drunk in this weird fashion looking like Young Thug, they’ve nothing else to offer. In fact one leaves their shows worse than they came.

You would hear Khaligraph Jones and others like him rapping about violence and guns in their music you’ll think they’ve lived that life – one would argue he has since he was raised in this notorious neighborhood, Kayole, Nairobi’s Eastlands area – which I doubt. I doubt if Khaligraph has ever pulled a trigger in real life. But their words have far-reaching consequences on the lives of those young people who listen to their music.

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A kid in Kayole, or Githurai after listening to such misleading music would think owning a gun and terrorizing people is cool. A high school kid wants to smoke bhang like his idols in those videos, and a teenage girl somewhere thinks it’s okay to go about half-naked and sleep around with men her grandpa’s age.

And you hear the artists complaining that we don’t support “our own” music, and that we are listening to too much Nigerian and Tanzanian, and American music at the expense of our own. Maybe they should stop wasting their energy complaining and instead direct it to producing sane and quality music and not that trash they keep feeding us.

As much as music is good, it can also be as bad as any lethal weapon in the wrong hands (“wrong artistes ). I just want our rappers and all the other musicians in my country and the world at large to be wise enough to understand the role music plays, and responsible enough to help highlight some of the problems we’re going through as a society.

Recently, Dusit, 14 Riverside in Westlands, Nairobi, we experienced acts of terrorism, losing a number of innocent souls and leaving hundreds of others wounded. Why can’t you sing about that (if you’re daring and talented enough). Educate people, especially the youth on the dangers of radicalization, to avoid getting involved in terrorism and other crimes and see the positive results on your music and your community, and the society as a whole.

We are tired of listening to only “ass”, “boobs”, “mrembo”, “six packs”, money, cars, and big houses. Be that musician who will change the narrative.

5 thoughts on “What Kenyan musicians should do to earn our loyalty

  1. I do understand that one doesn’t wake up talking about violence etc. and that’s what comes out of their daily experience … still… as you point out we’re tired of just vulgar talking that nowadays has become just a trend and has gone beyond its initial meaning of pointing out a reality.
    And yes, musicians could make songs of protest about tragedies like this one in Nairobi. That would be a true act of protest.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very true B. It’s shouldn’t be just about them. When writing that verse, think about its impact on the life of your listeners. People are going through a lot and one more song on how to motivate them or make them feel like living one more day is worth it. Thank you for your feedback. Have a great time.

      Liked by 1 person

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