For the last two years, with the popularity of social media use growing, a peculiar phenomenon has burst through. MERCY KAVUTHA looks into the obsession of Kenyans with ‘silly’ music videos.
Humour has always been touted to be the best medicine, yet the obsession with “failed” videos, that has seen a lot of people gaining fame as their videos go viral, is as confusing as it is interesting.
Where years ago some music tracks and their videos would have received a lot of flak for not being up to scratch — be it their lyrics, production or recording — we are seeing a lot of these becoming popular, and the artistes concerned having massive breakouts.
You have Ethic and Msupa S as just among those who rode on the wave of a “silly” video to get national recognition and careers.
While many listeners and critics may have proclaimed that the time for tuneful comedy was done and done in the early 2000s, the vast number of likes, views and shares that funny music seem to get on YouTube (thankfully backed by “New Position” 1.7 million views) over this year lets us know that this is not the case.
Kenyans have taken a fairly new liking to local music videos that seem to add a lighter side to their everyday lives.
We saw the emergence of Ethic with their out-and-out banger “Lamba Lolo” jam highlighting life in the streets as hustling young men; MC Njagi with his fresh approach to traditional music as he unleashed “Yalio Ndwele Sipite”; Rico Gang and Marcel’s take on the nature of romantic relationships among Kenyan Youth with “F***Boy” along with hilarious new records “Kirimino” and “Bora Uhai” by NellyTheGoon and Dmore relying on wit and sick beats to display a humorous element in the economic state of our country.
Regardless of the fact that a lot of music out there seem to have the quality that makes for a viral video, only a select few make it to that assemblage. One such was the very first music video that took the country by storm, “Lamba Lolo”, came about after the transpiring of the “ifikie wazazi” hashtag that was trending on Twitter in April.
Critics claim that this tag was a publicity stunt meant to add controversy and create a buzz around the song, which on our end if it was, certainly worked as this song captured the country with many extreme mixed reviews, making it one of the most talked-of songs at the time.
This sudden jump to fame sprang a new venue for an unheard-of genre and many more hits coming into view such as “F*** Boy” and “New Position” by the same crew but having top-notch features with celebrity music groups such as the notorious Kansoul. Nonetheless, the number of new hits are only rising.
It raises eyebrows though, that all these debut artistes seem to have their big break this year, when the overall state in the country seemed to be questionable, yet they produce musical humour at notes that many Kenyans seem to be resonating with.
We interviewed several listeners on their views concerning the current music making rounds and these were their opinions.
Kevo*, 26, street vendor
I love Ethic. Swat is my favourite member; my cousin is friends with him too. The best hit, in my opinion, is “Lamba Lolo” because it makes you happy and want to dance, you know? Their lyrics are very real and they are humble as well.
I was told if you met them on the streets and said hi they would greet you back like you're brothers. Dancing to it makes me remember that we can have fun ata na hizi shida zote, maze. They remind me of akina [email protected]
Mishi*, 32, accountant
I first heard “Yalio Ndwele Sipite” on Twitter while scrolling my feed, it had gone viral and it was so funny I almost choked.
The guy had this funny accent and the song was very catchy. Also, I feel it brings me back to the reality that we have a culture back in shaggz and shaggz songs can also make you hype too.
When it comes in the club the girls and I always end up in a screaming match because it's so lit. The way this economy is, I need that release.
Benard*, 49, businessman
I always hear them from my son. He's always playing this street music in the car and I find it quite amusing.
I learn a lot of ‘these-days’ slang from the youth as well. My son also shows me those clips on his social media sites and we laugh so much. I really like that he listens to Kenyan music.
There you have it. We love listening to music that makes us forget our problems, for one, reminds us we aren't alone, tells us to take things easy and to love the country and culture we're in in its most unfiltered nature.
While other local music genres are definitely thriving, it poses as a big breath of fresh air that new genre-bending sounds that combine hilarity, slightly over exaggerated real-life situations, great production, and flawless execution are ruling the local soundwaves.
Of course, there are still many emerging outstanding acts (Bora Uhai- Jenver x Teuve, currently trending at number 1 on YouTube with 45,000 hits and counting) to keep tabs on throughout the rest of the year but we are still eagerly waiting for the unreleased, unknown talent that's yet to surprise us, possibly giving rise to a whole new trend.