Bottom Line

Bottom Line

29 November 2017 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Blinky Bill – Cc God ft. Owuor Arunga & Sage Blinky Bill has just released the intro track to his upcoming full length album, Everyone’s Just Winging It And Other Fly Tales. [...]Read More

06 October 2017 » Bottom Line

Een van de jongens / Venfilm; 2014 Dir. Jeroen van Velzen It is a well known fact that student leadership in Kenyan universities and other institutions of higher learning has always been inextricably linked to the external influences of political parties or movements holding sway over the country. Successful candidates for leadership often employ the [...]Read More

23 September 2017 » Bottom Line

Mbithi Masya’s debut feature film Kati Kati is Kenya’s official submission to the Best Foreign Film category of the 90th Academy Awards (Oscars) slated for March 4, 2018. The film’s selection, announced by the Oscar Selection Committee over the weekend, hardly comes as a surprise. The film presented a unique story about a woman who [...]Read More

22 September 2017 » Bottom Line

Billy Black Studios; 2017 Kenya is currently going through a presidential election process that is turning out to be more of a democratic marathon than a short sprint. The country is deeply polarized after going through an acrimonious campaign period, hotly contested elections, and finally the challenging and annulment of the results to pave way [...]Read More

13 July 2017 » Bottom Line

Inkverse Music; 2016 Dir. Richie-G For first-timers, travelling to Ongata Rongai from the centre of Nairobi using public means tends to be a rather peculiar experience. As one of Nairobi’s much farther satellite towns and primarily accessed through the single-lane Magadi Road, the process of getting to Rongai can be nothing short of hellish during peak traffic [...]Read More

10 July 2017 » Bottom Line

Pembe Tatu Films / Life Dream Production; 2017 Dir. Gerald Langiri Life, as we currently now it, is but a series of highs and lows, feats and failures, mistakes and miracles – perhaps Nature’s way of helping us grow stronger and discover ourselves. Shit Happens, an ongoing web series written by Maina Mundi and directed by Gerald Langiri (House of Lungula, Fundi-mentals) dwells on the low points of life with the objective of highlighting the hilariousness that can accompany with being down on...

31 December 2016 » Bottom Line

There seemed to be a saturation of ideas for when it came to Kenyan music videos in 2016. With the current trend of having nearly every single an artist or band releases being accompanied by a music video, this was bound to happen. Not everyone has the time and budget to pull a Beyoncé. Perhaps it was too few production houses handling too many music videos. I don’t know what it was but an overwhelming number of music videos ended up looking pretty much the same and were easy to forget as a...

31 December 2016 » Bottom Line

Continuing from where we left off in Part 1 of this feature, we’re counting down our 50 picks of the best Kenyan music had to offer in 2016. As has been mentioned before, the competitiveness in music circles is at an all-time high and these 50 tracks barely scratch the surface of the great content that has been produced this year. Anyway, let’s finish what we started: 25. Monitah – Utopia On Utopia, Monitah finds perfect bliss in the intimate perks that come with being in love – the skin...

29 December 2016 » Bottom Line

Recent developments in the Kenyan music scene has made the task of compiling “Best Of” lists such as the one below very difficult indeed. It is becoming harder and harder to ignore new and upcoming talent. Barely a month passes by these days before stumbling upon awesome new stuff from someone you’ve never heard of. 2016 also featured an interesting overlap between gospel and secular music, seeing artists associated with either side blurring the boundaries a bit. Consequently, our attempt at...

20 November 2016 » Bottom Line

By MremboSafi Shaash Entertainment; 2016 From Monitah’s eagerly awaited Sonnie Side Up EP, Moonlight Bloom is a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack to a lover’s play. Sonically crooned into light by the rising sun, the singer-songwriter and instrumentalist takes us on a journey through attraction and allure.  Reminiscent of the recent Supermoon, Midnight Bloom is a nostalgic lovers’ sonnet that keeps pulling the listener closer with each verse. Monitah brings together an eclectic mix of R&B,...

19 October 2016 » Bottom Line

Self-Released; 2016 Athieno is your quintessential African fusion artist. Numerous musical genres and influences ooze out of her songs, softly kneaded and layered together to leave just enough room for one final fundamental ingredient – a unique signature sound which combines her arresting vocals and her deceptively simple songwriting. The results of this two-pronged creative process are usually easily digestible songs that slowly seep into the brain and gently tug the heartstrings.  While...

11 October 2016 » Bottom Line

A few months back, as the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) signed an MOU with its equally controversial South African counterpart the Film and Publication Board (FPB), we warned that this partnership may trigger an attempt by the KFCB to seize even more regulatory space for itself beyond films and broadcast content. Sure enough, that dreadful day is finally upon us. The KFCB has published a draft bill (the Films, Stage Plays and Publications Bill) seeking to grant itself far-reaching...

07 June 2016 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Anthony Wasonga – Names With The President (Remix) ft. Alfa Mars As the political tensions in Kenya continue to rise leading up to the 2017 general elections, it was only a matter of time before an artist weighed in on this issue. Anthony Wasonga presents Names With The President, a parody of the tribalism-based political rhetoric that is crippling many a mind...

05 June 2016 » Bottom Line

UpToYouToo; 2004 “Rap is like manure from heaven. Our rhymes are meant to be revolutionary, coming down to change everything.” _ Kah Imagine the best rappers Kenya has to offer putting away their egos and petty rivalries for a moment, synchronizing their schedules and coming together to record a well-produced socially conscious collective album. Impossible, right? Even though such a miraculous scenario is highly unlikely to take place in this day and age, there is still great comfort in the...

15 May 2016 » Bottom Line

Penya; 2009 Just A Band’s announcement that they’ll be going on a break this year is a perfect opportunity to take a step back and re-appreciate the material they’ve put out so far. The one song that defines their unrestricted and innovative creative process is definitely Usinibore off their 2009 sophomore album 82. While Ha-he resonated with the local masses by reviving the Makmende superhero persona, Usinibore was arguably the track that lured in the rest of the world onto the dance floor for...

13 May 2016 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Gabu & Frasha – W.A.B.E ft. DJ Joe Mfalme It’s getting busy on the P.Unit side of things. Aside from Frasha launch of his solo debut album Dakitare group has announced their plan for 2016. They plan to drop at least one track every two months primary with producer Eric Musyoka. As we wait, Gabu and Frasha have dropped WABE, one heck of banger produced by...

13 May 2016 » Bottom Line

A protracted legal battle between music industry artists and Premium Rate Service Providers (PRSPs) over the distribution of royalties from Safricom’s Skiza Tunes music platform was concluded on May 11, 2016 by a High Court ruling in favour of artists.  Since the conception of the lucrative service, PRSPs have been acting as absolute intermediaries controlling both artists’ access to the Skiza platform and the distribution of royalties due to them, an arrangement deviating from the standard...

28 April 2016 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Athieno – IaM (Album) Stop the presses! Athieno released an epic album earlier this month, entitled IaM. As the title suggests, this album represents a journey back to the self and embracing whatever you find within.  According to Athieno, the album is “a kind of rebirth of myself. Through the roller coaster ride of emotions I experienced while writing and...

25 April 2016 » Bottom Line

How does the average protection racket work? First, it secures territorial monopoly over the area it wishes to control, quite often by muscling out competitors through extra-legal means. If there is no obvious demand for its protection services, the organization will go out of its way to create that demand by propagating an atmosphere of fear or insecurity. Finally, it monetizes its services by charging its “customers” for the services. Following an uncannily similar process, the Kenya Film...

23 April 2016 » Bottom Line

As we’ve mentioned before, this year is turning out to be a big one for musical collaborations across Africa. Kenyan artists have not been left out but have contributed some interesting collabos so far. With this trend going on, it is difficult not to start dreaming up some potential collaborations that would make so much sense. This compilation of fantasy collaborations between Kenyan artists and other artists from around the continent is such an exercise, but with a twist. Instead of listing...

23 April 2016 » Bottom Line

Big Ideas Entertainment; 2015 As this week marks the first anniversary since the worst ever immigrant tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea amid a constant influx of refugees and immigrants into Europe in numbers not witnessed since World War II, it is good to see some Kenyan filmmakers trying to add their voices to the overall narrative. Willie Owusu’s Flight Path is a short film with the immigration theme in mind. In Flight Path, a chain-smoking Kenyan immigrant (Telly Savalas Otieno) who has just...

17 April 2016 » Bottom Line

EnnovatorMusic; 2012 Ma3 was in many ways a supergroup. The quirky 6-piece afro pop band’s constituent members comprised of a bunch of high achievers in different areas within and without the music industry.   Tim Rimbui continues to make waves through his Ennovator label and digital music marketplace Waabeh. Kato Change has gone on to become one of Kenya’s most sought after guitarists and dropped one of Kenya’s best albums of 2015. Nanjira Sambuli switched from the band’s lead vocalists to...

15 April 2016 » Bottom Line

Given how competitive the music industry has gotten in just about every market you care to look, one surefire method an artist / group of artists can exploit to break away from the pack and get noticed is doing covers of well-known songs. This method triggers instant curiosity in fans of the original. They’ll lower their guard and give the artists a chance to prove that whatever talents they possess are enough to pull off a cover that does the original version justice. Thankfully, more and more...

13 April 2016 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Eclipse – Superstition Eclipse have finally dropped the visuals to Superstition off their upcoming album Kenyan Kid Iz The Future. Check it out above. Sage – Girl In A Blue Dress Sage has done what she tends to do and blessed us with another splendid release. Here is Girl In A Blue Dress, a dreamy and sincere song with a message for her daughter (and perhaps...

12 April 2016 » Bottom Line

Dir. Greg Macousi Even before this year passes its halfway mark, it is already becoming apparent that 2016 will be a big year for serious musical collaborations. We’ve witnessed a string of interesting pairings including Elani and Jose Chameleone, Akothee and Flavour, to even an unexpected one from Atemi and Khaligraph Jones. The one that has registered 100% compatibility so far is Party Like A Moda, Abbas Kubaff’s new release featuring Victoria Kimani. Party Like A Moda essentially brings...

02 April 2016 » Bottom Line

Does Kenyan music seem to be headed anywhere? Will the industry ever edge closer to the levels of international recognition and commercial success enjoyed by its counterparts in West Africa, Central Africa, South Africa and our Tanzanian neighbours any time soon? The quick and easy answer to these questions would be a resounding NO. A quick glance at the content on your favourite TV or radio station would affirm that answer. However, if one looks beyond the surface and delves deeper into recent...

31 March 2016 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Trabolee – Mutinda Muliro Freestyle Riding on a Kendrick Lamar(?) beat and alluding to Pavelee and Kantai’s hip-hop classic Nare, Trabolee goes full beast mode on Mutinda Muliro, complete with an ominous music video directed by Abstract Omega. (check it out above). If you’ve never listened to a Trabolee track before, prepare to be slayed with his seemingly...

30 March 2016 » Bottom Line

Akothee Empire; 2016 If someone were to mention Akothee in your presence, it is highly likely that the first thing that would pop in your mind is her claim that she currently is Kenya’s richest musician. This could be a good thing, depending on how you look at it. After all, a viable music career involves much more than just making good music – a brand has to be created, several products around the brand have to be developed and finally both the brand and the related products are vigorously...

20 March 2016 » Bottom Line

Ogopa DJs; 2001 This week marked thirteen years since the tragic death of Kenyan hip hop artist E-Sir in a road accident on March 16, 2003. The abrupt end to his potentially limitless career may have been untimely, but his rise to fame could not have been better synchronized with the significant changes taking place in the Kenyan music scene at the time. Riding on the Ogopa wave that revolutionized Kenyan urban music and his unique lyrical abilities, E-Sir instantly struck a chord with nation...

17 March 2016 » Bottom Line

The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) has today signed a memorandum of understanding with South Africa’s film and video content regulator, the Film and Publication Board (FPB). The MOU signed by the CEOs of the two bodies, Ezekiel Mutua and Themba Wakashe, aims to identify and define activities for mutual benefit of both countries, develop mechanisms and programs for regulation in the wake of new technologies, promote compliance within legislative frameworks applicable in respective...

15 March 2016 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Dave Ndegwa – Sunny Day Dave Ndegwa follows up his excellent breakout single Kairetu with this new track titled Sunny Day, a soothing afro-soul love song that will brighten your day instantly. Ukweli & Nu Fvnk ft. Runkah – Wishful Thinking The EA Wave collective has embarked on an new project dubbed Wavey Wednesdays in which they aim to release new...

15 March 2016 » Bottom Line

Kenyan musical artist collective Cosmic Homies O.N.E. and US-based rapper King Kanja are set to perform at the South By Southwest (SXSW) 2016 Music Festival in Austin, Texas. The SXSW Music Festival is one of the largest and most influential annual music festivals worldwide. The 2015 event showcased 2,200 acts from 62 different countries, with over 30,000 music industry professionals and musicians in attendance. Showcasing unsigned and indie label artists alongside internationally renowned acts...

13 March 2016 » Bottom Line

Kelele Records; 1997 Before T-Pain literally took over the music world with his auto-tune vocals and before Redsan made a name for himself with his near-perfect lyrical delivery in Jamaican patois, Kenyan artist Hardstone had already made effective use of both devices years before they became a thing. His blend of  ragga, reggae, R&B and hip hop combined with his lyrical delivery in Kikuyu, Swahili and Jamaican patois translated in his 1997 Tedd Josiah produced debut album Nuting But De...

12 March 2016 » Bottom Line

Ex-Camp Mulla rap artist ShappaMan is back with Love Wild, a brand new mixtape following his first official mixtape Wild Life On Tape released in 2015. The new 11 track mixtape revolves around the theme of love in all its fearful and wonderful forms. As described by ShappaMan, the tape is ” about love of life and the challenges we all face as we face these problems through love. #LoveWild is based on the fact that we all love to love, love to party and love where we came from.” For the songs to...

10 March 2016 » Bottom Line

Just A Band have lined up a triple treat of visual art, literature and music beginning this weekend. The collective will open their latest multi-media project called PERSPECTIVE  at the Goethe-Institut Nairobi on Friday 11 March 2016, starting at 8PM. This project is a single-channel video installation, focusing on telling stories through the first person perspective and placing the audience in the minds and emotions of various characters as they deal with situations, both real and surreal....

07 March 2016 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Greggy – Dojo Greggy is one heck of a smooth operator in his latest head-bobbing latest track in which he’s trying to convince a special type of girl to come over to his dojo for some Netflix and Chill.  ShappaMan – Love Wild Mixtape ShappaMan has just released his latest mixtape entitled Love Wild. He describes it as being “about the love of life and the...

07 March 2016 » Bottom Line

360 Music; 2016 Dir. Microd The past three weeks have witnessed Nazizi’s comeback single Wedding Ring with a visually stunning music video and a Nameless – Nyashinki collaboration, so one can be forgiven for feeling like it is 2008 all over again. The release of Bonbon by Amani over the weekend is much less of a surprise. The artist has more or less been in the picture ever since Ninanoki drove high school kids out of their minds in the late 2000s, her secret perhaps being a steady flow of hit...

02 March 2016 » Bottom Line

Grandpa Records; 2016 The past two years or so have been particularly pivotal period to Visita’s musical career. He established himself as Grandpa Records’ producer-in-chief and was responsible for defining the label’s dominant sound through the success of hits such as Kamua Leo, Vile Kunaendaga and Chapa (Fimbo La Pili), a track with a beat so catchy that the label just had to remix the track beyond recognition and into its grave.  Apart from production, Visita has also been able to...

25 February 2016 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Cece Sagini –  9 To 5 Cece is back and spreading her trademark positive vibes in this new releases, this time proposing that work can be fun if you want it to be. Prepare your body for the saxophone. Oh, the music video is also out for your viewing pleasure as you wind down the clock to 5PM. Athieno – Way Back Athieno opts for a hopping into a matatu rather...

22 February 2016 » Bottom Line

PBJ; 2016 What a time to be alive! There’s so much activity in the Kenyan electronic and alternative music scene, one can hardly keep up. While some of the movers and shakers are sticking to the standards and sounds that have already been globally accepted, others are trying to figure out Kenya’s and East Africa’s place and identity within those genres. Artist Jesse “Jezzem” Sembene is among the latter group. He has just released a new EP entitled Kelectro with the intention of introducing...

18 February 2016 » Bottom Line

There are a lot of fairly new artists who, in the past two years or longer, have been churning out stuff that pushes the boundaries that confine Kenyan music further and further out into fresh, new, exciting and sometimes mind-blowing territory. While they never get as much coverage as they deserve, their consistency remains admirably steadfast. One such trailblazing artist is Leon Omondi, also known as Mankind. The Manchild EP was Leon Omondi’s debut release in mid 2015 via digital vendor...

13 February 2016 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Alex R.E.D – No Education Alex R.E.D has been out of the picture for quite a while now but his latest release is a sign of tremendous growth since How It Feel from 2013. No Education is a self-produced track touched up by Atwal, quite rightly criticizing Africans/Kenyans’ extreme obsession with non-arts based education. This is a serious banger with a sweet...

12 February 2016 » Bottom Line

Kaka Empire; 2016 The social media brouhaha and exchange of venom leading up to Juliani’s Who Is King concert set an excellent tone for two climaxes, the first being the relative success of the concert itself which ended up giving extra exposure to up and coming talent Kaa La Moto. The second was King Kaka’s surprise release of his latest  fifteen track mixtape It’s The King on the very day of the concert. This release gave King Kaka the leverage to make a very strong statement of his own...

07 February 2016 » Bottom Line

Flag42; 2015 The good people at Flag 42 have been churning out some interesting stuff of late. The label’s musical diversity has been well demonstrated by its recent string of releases, including Jemedari’s Coastal-themed Msenangu, Rosa’s Mr. DJ and newer rap and trap sounds in Tuko Juu, Siku Hizi, and the scathing Uvece. Their latest release, Ngayo by Jerry featuring Benady, Phonez, Jemedari and Kimathi, hits us with throwback rhumba sample and takes us a little further back in time when...

05 February 2016 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases and covers from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Naomi Wachira – I’m Missing You Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a Kenyan artist featuring on NPR’s excellent Tiny Desk Concert series this year? Well, Seattle-based afro-soul singer Naomi Wachira has stepped up to the plate and is taking part in this years Tiny Desk Concert to pick an artist who will feature on the series and get to perform in a...

05 February 2016 » Bottom Line

Dreamland Music; 2016 Dir. Dr. Eddie Njeri’s meteoric rise in local music circles began with the release of her first official single  Nduta in 2015, a hard-hitting party anthem largely in Kikuyu and delivered with a confidence and bragadoccio that immediately sparked comparisons with STL. Her next single Miti Ni Dawa, predictably featuring STL, became quite the club banger, partly thanks to the impeccable production of Ace of Fullhouse Music. Miti Ni Dawa took Njeri a few notches higher in the...

05 February 2016 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Dela – Third Party Lover Dela seems to be moving on to the next stage of the story told in Mafeelings with danceable twist in Third Party Lover. She’s moving on and getting rid of her non-committed lover. The delectable beat is produced by none other than Cedo. The music video just dropped as well, check it out above. Muthoni Drummer Queen & Kagwe Mungai...

04 February 2016 » Bottom Line

There tends to be a level of understatement in discussions about the contribution of the Coastal region to the early development of Kenyan hip hop music and culture. More prominence is often given to artists and stories from further inland, more so Nairobi. The starting point is usually at the formation of the Mau Mau collective and Kalamashaka’s breakthrough single Tafsiri Hii. It is easy to forget that these events were taking place almost at the same time as (or probably slightly later than...

26 January 2016 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Tetu Shani – Jacaranda Tree On the strength of his two first releases, Round and Round  and And Ode to Pa, it wasn’t hard to tell that Tetu Shani is an artist that will stretch the limits of with his unique and open-minded creative process, but this was really unexpected!! His latest single off his upcoming album is Jacaranda Tree, and it’s quite the...

24 January 2016 » Bottom Line

Blu Ink; 2015 Khaligraph Jones’ Yego was the definitive trap anthem of 2015. There was something about it that made it really catchy. Was it that it referred to a figure Kenyans already recognized? Was it Khaligraph’s uncompromising braggadocio and delivery? Was it that infectious beat? Whatever it was, Yego resonated well among a Kenyan audience that is slowly starting to get used to the idea that this sound will be utilised more and more by local rappers.  Production-wise, Yego heavily...

24 January 2016 » Bottom Line

Chocolate City; 2016 The effect of sampling on a piece of music can be profound.  A carefully selected and well-executed sample can provide a relevant point of reference to something great, it brings us closer to the classics. It can also bring the ideas of artists past and present much closer and bring out the similarities between them that may be obscured by the passage of time. Victoria Kimani’s new single All The Way happens to achieve all of these awesome things.  The choice of sampling...

24 January 2016 » Bottom Line

Motion Image & Sound; 2016 Dir. RLVNT It’s been quite a while since girl band Kiu released new material. Save for a bunch of concert and event performances, getting to perform live versions of Mwanake and Siwezi Mind on Airtel Jam Sessions as well as this glorious Davido cover, it has largely been hush hush on the Kiu front, and for good reasons. The band signed up to Jaaz Odongo’s label Motion Image & Sound in early 2015. They’ve since been hard at work recording their debut album....

24 January 2016 » Bottom Line

Blu Ink; 2016 Dir. Johnson Kyalo Whether you like it or not, Khaligraph Jones is Kenya’s rapper of the moment and his stats speak for themselves. Aside from blessing us with the trap anthem that was Yego, Jones was the most featured rapper of 2015 thanks to the consistency of his delivery and lyrical content. He was dropping guest verses literally everywhere and for almost everyone that mattered – from debutants like Phy and Otile Brown to industry heavyweights such as Wyre and Muthoni the...

17 January 2016 » Bottom Line

The big showbiz news of the week came from a rather unexpected source. Afropop group Elani released a video explaining their rather low profile in 2016.  The group had had a superb 2014 consisting of a well-received debut album boasting a string of singles that got tonnes of airplay. However, after their year-end mega-concert, Elani began 2015 deep in debt. It was in this state of survival that the group decided to scrutinize the paltry Kshs. 31,000 they had received as royalties from the MCSK...

15 January 2016 » Bottom Line

It’s yet another day full of new, not-so-new and buzzing music releases from around and about the Kenyan scene. Let’s get right into it: Lisa Oduor-Noah – Fast Car (Cover) Lisa Oduor-Noah has been been releasing a series of inspired covers lately and this one of Tracy Chapman’s unforgettable Fast Car is just but the latest. As expected of Lisa, this cover is haunting and soothing in equal measure. Check out the rest on her Soundcloud.  Benady – Hakuna Matata Flag 42 stepped it up a notch as a...

09 January 2016 » Bottom Line

The first week of the year has not been an idle one on the entertainment front. Sauti Sol went straight back to business with a New Year release of the music video to Relax  off their brand new album Live and Die in Afrika. It’s kind of a highlight reel of the incredible year they have just had from award noms and wins to rubbing shoulders with everyone from Obama, Richard Branson and even Bill Nye!!  Mayonde – Paradise  Mayonde is  still not out of new material, never mind that she just...

31 December 2015 » Bottom Line

Trabolee’s recent upward trajectory in his career started off with the release of his THC mixtape in 2013, his setting up a partnership with Juke Myster to release Occult Lore as SkullVilla and featuring in The NEST’s stellar Our Guns Don’t Work in 2014. These bodies of work promptly set him apart as one of the bankable emerging hip hop acts. His penchant for exploring unconventional themes with a heavily loaded lyrical delivery teetering between rap and spoken word has made him a popular...

31 December 2015 » Bottom Line

2015 was a good year in terms of the number of good albums released with the best of the lot coming rather late in the year. Although Wangechi’s  anticipated debut album Art 19  once again proved elusive after the second year of baiting, the pleasant surprise was no doubt the quickfire release of Maisha Superstar Phy’s extremely ambitious, daringly unrestricted debut album Phylosophy  via Kaka Empire, against the trend of most competition winners fizzling into irrelevance within months of...

23 December 2015 » Bottom Line

Music videos are being taken much more seriously around here, both as an art form in themselves and as a medium that adds some extra personality and flavour to music releases. Even Pulse Magazine saw the need to come up with some sort of (ghastly, badly thought through) awards event for local music videos. Our list compiles 20 of the best Kenyan music vids that have been churned out this year, each with their own special quality whether it is the visual eye candy, out-of-the box filming...

14 December 2015 » Bottom Line

Mayonde Music; 2015 Mayonde’s voice has always been quite a force to reckon with right from the moment she burst into Kenya’s soul and alternative music scene as Diana Nduba. In addition to her amazing set of pipes, the Coke Studio Africa regular also has a way with songwriting that results in beautiful, soul-massaging music. Her most successful release, Isikuti Love, still sounds as fresh as it did a year ago and will continue to do so for a very long time. At this high point in her career,...

14 December 2015 » Bottom Line

Producers on the Road; 2015 Dir. Abstract Omega Hip hop/spoken word artist Trabolee made a significant mark earlier this year with his debut album All Roads Lead Home, no doubt Kenya’s most lyrically potent album of 2015. His pen remains as sharp as ever in his latest showing entitled MBEx3, a release by a newly formed music producer collective called Producers on the Road. MBEx3 sees Trabolee unite with his long-time collaborator Juke Myster and Amo Kamili.  As the title (derived from “Mbe” a...

10 December 2015 » Bottom Line

Another day, another batch of new music to enjoy. The highlight of the day (of course) is Dela’s cover of Adele’s Hello, translated into Swahili and given that raw acoustic touch courtesy of Sauti Sol’s Polycarp ‘Fancy Fingers’ Otieno, Benjamin Webi and Andrew Ngatia Wanjohi. Even though she’s Taurus Musik’s latest signee with an overall strategy of re-branding as an Afropop artist, there is still a tonne of soul where Dela is concerned.  Aaron Rimbui – Hafungi Macho This is the first offering...

10 December 2015 » Bottom Line

Ulopa Ngoma/Side B; 2015 Dir. Kevin Bosco Jnr. In the six or so years of putting her music out there, Yvonne Darcq has done an extensive amount of experimenting with all sorts of genres and collaborations.  She’s been in the lab a few hundred times more than your average local singer.  For an artiste with roots in France, South Sudan, Mali and Kenya, experimentation probably comes quite naturally. Her quest to create her own unique blend of Afropop with a global appeal has seen her try out a...

09 December 2015 » Bottom Line

Another day, another batch of awesome new music from around and about. Let’s head right into it: Athieno – Trouble Medley Who else other than Athieno (formerly known as Anniesoul) can bless us with a legit Fela Kuti – Bob Marley medley? Yup, in her usual acapella fashion, she’s mashed up Fela Kuti’s Trouble Sleep Yanga Go Wake Am and Bob Marley’s So Much Trouble In The World. The results = glorious. Jim Chuchu – Shauri Yako Staying with covers, here’s another awesome one from Jim Chuchu. It’s...

30 November 2015 » Bottom Line

MG Production; 2015 Dir. Osidiana Moses Even with just three major releases in the past two years, Cece Sagini’s upward trajectory as a singer-songwriter is undeniable. She keeps sounding better and adding more layers to her music with every new release. She also seems to have developed a level of synergy with the production outfits she’s worked with (MG, Big Soul and Provoke) that is vital to making good music. Her songs convey her process well – laid back, unhurried, cured and polished to...

29 November 2015 » Bottom Line

Sauti Sol Entertainment; 2015 We’ve reviewed Sauti Sol’s self-produced third album Live and Die in Afrika. As noted in the review, this album is quite a feast when it comes to the variety in production and musical influences from all over the African continent and around the world. Here’s a look at some of the samples and possible musical influences in the album which have a bias towards stuff from the 80s and 90s: 02. Live and Die in Afrika The title track samples Retirantes by Brazilian...

29 November 2015 » Bottom Line

Sauti Sol Entertainment; 2015 Kenya’s favourite afro-pop band Sauti Sol brought some extra cheer to the internets over the second last weekend of November by releasing their third album entitled Live and Die in Afrika as a free download for a brief 48 hours. There’s iTunes, Amazon MP3 and a ton of other options for those who missed out on the freebies. The album represents the band’s four year evolution from the signature acoustic/afro-soul/afro-fusion sounds of their previous albums and...

22 November 2015 » Bottom Line

Saturdays 8-9 PM, Citizen TV The showrunners of Coke Studio Africa must have been very pleased with the final edit of this episode because, lo and behold, it is the perfect realization of all the awesome stuff you’d expect from a mashup themed season of a Coke Studio franchise. It ticked all the right boxes, including that one hard-to-tick box: the kind of entertainment that keeps you glued to your seat for 50 or so minutes. The Juliana-Flavour-Masterkraft trifecta of awesomeness maintained...

22 November 2015 » Bottom Line

Sundays 8-9 PM, Citizen TV The feeling that Coke Studio Africa had plateaued by episode 3 unfortunately extends into episode 4. This episode maintained the minimum level of quality you would expect from this series but had very few memorable high points to speak of. By and large, the episode’s strengths lay more in the production and arrangement quality of the mashups than in the effect of most of the actual performances. Owuor Arunga led the way with a smooth and lively beat on Di’ja and...

16 November 2015 » Bottom Line

Dir. Abstract Omega; 2015 Imagine a version of Kenya in an alternative present (or a not so distant future) that has regressed to a state of dictatorial control mirroring the Moi era at its peak, probably worse. A Kenya in which government surveillance of all forms of communication is the norm. A return to the bad old days whereby spreading unmonitored ideas was as criminal as a violent act of treason and subversion. Back to the days of the Mwakenya – secret documents of dissent in low...

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