It is said that there’s nothing new under the sun, but when it comes to matters entertainment, new is all that matters.
It’s like a game of musical chairs; as one party exits the stage, the focus seamlessly shifts to the next attraction.
Those who slack to retain their positions are unceremoniously ushered towards the exit.
And thus it has been that in recent times, the “old guard” is inadvertently being replaced by a new breed of personalities who seem bent on taking over the wheel in their respective disciplines at whatever cost.
They are hungry for success. Once celebrated household names, these casualties of the new school revolution are today dangling on the brink of oblivion.
The likes of Jua Cali, Amani, Big Pin, Homeboyz DJ’s are among numerous other pioneering entertainers who have fallen victim of the radical metamorphosis witnessed in the Kenyan entertainment industry over the last few years.
Their waning popularity, absence in national charts and little if any public appearances are evidence of this.
But being that one man’s poison is a meaty meal for another, there are those who are basking in the good tidings this new wave has brought.
These present day shot callers are the leaders of the new school. Top on this list is the dynamic threesome of Taio Tripper, Shappaman aka Young Kass and Miss Karun.
The trio constitute the latest sensation in the Kenyan entertainment circuit, Camp Mulla.
Armed with sheer talent, superior productions and uber coolness, the fast rising rap group infected the entire teen market with their self brewed flavour of swag and within no time, the entire country was Addicted (pun intended) to their style-both in music and fashion.
Although barely out of their teens, Camp Mulla have achieved far greater feats in the last two years than most of their counterparts in the industry have had after decades on the scene.
From rumoured multi-million shilling deals with corporates to continental chart topping songs and jaw dropping videos, this upmarket outfit has certainly earned their way to the top, blazing a trail of firsts in their path.
Just this week, they became the first Kenyan outfit to be nominated to the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards set to be held in California, USA on July 1.
The group has been nominated in the Best International Act: Africa category against other youthful African entertainers such as Wizkid, Lira and Ice Prince. Forget about stopping, as it would seem, Camp Mulla’s party is only starting.
Camp Mulla may have made their name by incorporating Western elements into their music and image but their closest rival for top honours locally has got to be as Kenyan as they come.
Kibera bred rapper Octopizzo has risen from a rugged street rapper to become one of the most flashy and sought after artistes in the music scene today.
His rags to riches story is perhaps his biggest selling point which, coupled with his punchy lyrics has propelled him to the top of the national charts.
Despite the controversy that constantly plagues him, the juggernaut that is Octopizzo’s mounting star power continues to surge unabated.
While his critics admonish him for “selling out” from his hard-core hip-hop roots, his growing legion of fans seem too spellbound by his well documented lyrical prowess to be otherwise bothered.
In the meantime, the “number nane” front man continues to solidify his stance as the head honcho in Kenyan hip hop with his successful crossover from the clogged up underground to the pinnacles of mainstream music charts.
Presently, the ‘Bila Mic’ star not only boasts of multiple concurrent hits but also regularly shares platforms with some of the most acclaimed artistes in the region and just recently launched a clothing line as well.
Enter Just-A-Band and their revolutionary blend of hip hop, electronic and Afro music.
Prior to Sauti Sol’s debut into the Kenyan music scene, bands were considered either too old school or too niche for the average Kenyan music consumer.
However with the success of Sauti Sol’s crossover single, Lazizi, a whole new chapter was opened.
This saw the ascent of a number of afro music bands such as Ma3 and Aziza onto the mainstream platform.
But it was Just A Band who recorded the most remarkable feats by shoving what was hitherto christened complicated and elitist music down the mass Kenyan audience’s throat till they couldn’t resist it.
For Just A Band, it was their creative execution and aggressive strategies that catapulted them to national fame and eventually brought them international glory.
To date, group is known to enjoy massive popularity far beyond Kenyan borders with the likes of Black Eyed Peas front man Will.I.Am citing them as the best thing out of Africa in recent times.
With the growth in popularity of afro based sounds, the Penya Africa label quickly became one of the most successful artiste stables in the country.
Under the leadership of former rapper cum producer turned entrepreneur, Penya oversaw the launch of the likes of Dela, Muthoni the Drummer Queen, Sauti Sol and a host of other artistes who guided the entry of Afro-soul into the mainstream music industry.
It is, therefore, no surprise that Penya’s latest sensation has become one of the leading lights among new school Kenyan female musicians.
Fresh out of Penya’s Sauti Academy, Lyra Aoko is fast becoming one of the most prized musical possessions in the country and having a top hit “Radio Love” with J’Mani and Collo helps her case.
With vocals to make you swoon, her unbelievably soulful sound has catapulted her from a background vocalist for Stan’s afro fusion band to winning the 2011 Samsung Zikistar Search contest to churning hits alongside the likes of Wyre, Collo and Nick Mutuma.
Lyra’s gradual ascent has seen her become one of the most celebrated female singers in the emerging crop of A-list entertainers.
In the same breathe, Antoneosoul’s entry into the Kenyan music scene was slow at first but with his unique style and talent he has slowly risen through the ranks raking a massive fan base along the way.
Little wonder that he was chosen to co-host NTV’s popular entertainment magazine show, Teen Republik, which has proven to be quite a hit.
It’s not only musicians who have experienced this shift in paradigm however. Other areas of entertainment have also been influenced by the “new school revolution” that has seen an almost universal change of guard in the balance of power and fame.
Among DJ’s, once revered personalities such as DJ Adrian, DJ Pinye, DJ Stylez and DJ John who at one point were the life of the Kenyan party scene are hardly heard of today.
While some may still hold their own in some circles, it is the new turntablists that take much of the cake.
For instance, DJ Joe Mfalme has established himself as one of the most successful Kenyan DJs today.
Currently a resident DJ in one of the country’s top radio stations, DJ Joe’s “itchy fingers, eclectic flavour and flare for the latest music” have undoubtedly justified him as the “King” of his trade. DJ Joe’s success has seen him headline numerous shows including the coveted Smirnoff Experience, 2010 World Cup and Big Brother Africa parties in South Africa and Independence Day celebrations in the USA.
Likewise, DJ Kaytrix has forged one of the most successful deejaying careers in Kenya today mostly aided by his dramatic exit from the Codered DJs unit.
His case is replicated in fellow DJ’s Crème de la Crème, DJ Mista T and DJ Hypnotique who were also once members of Code Red led by DJ Stylez.
With the current electronic dance music (EDM) craze that has gripped the country, the 6AM DJ’s unit comprising DJ’s Drazen, Barney Burrow, Mikhail Kuzi, DJ K and Sean Frazer have dominated the party scene with their high octane parties that have made them the talk in town.
More recently, DJ Chucky has also surfaced as a force to reckon with, appearing in most high end EDM gigs.
Others such as screen actress Brenda Wairimu, radio personalities Joey Muthengi, Nick Mutuma and TV hosts Edith Kimani and Ian Mugoya have also struck harmonious chords with the youth that have catapulted their new school celebrity status.