CELEB BUZZ: How Naiboi went from ’underrated’ to ‘appreciated’

Wednesday March 18 2020

Musician and producer Naiboi. PHOTO | COURTESY


Who would have thought that Naiboi would be the huge artiste that he is today?

The answer is everyone. Yes, we all knew he’d be prominent at some point even if we didn’t pay enough attention to him.

The bearded singer has been releasing splendid tunes for a long time. He has shown so much promise over the past few years thus it isn’t a shocker that he is finally where he deserves to be.


It has been a thorny road for him. Most of his earlier songs, despite beaming with good production values and startling quality, initially did not get the attention deserved. ‘Underrated’ was the perfect word to describe him.

But did he give up? Of course, he didn’t. He kept going and the big break finally came. It took one song to make him a true superstar. That song was “2 in 1”.

I actually loathed the song at first. I couldn’t understand why everyone was beaming with delight when it came out. To me, it was just like any other song.

I failed to see any tinctures of uniqueness in it. I preferred his other songs like “Dinda”, “Problem” and “Inside”.

But the more “2 in 1” tyrannised the airwaves, the more it grew inside me like a foetus in a womb. I have now crammed it from start to finish. I can sing word for word without bungling a consonant.

If only I could have grasped concepts in school the way I have crammed Naiboi’s lyrics, I probably would be a cognitive scientist right now with volumes of research papers in my drawers.

“2 in 1” is a great love song but its video is what gave it wings. Without the creative video, I don’t think it would have been that colossal.

It’s amazing that Naiboi sat down and told himself, ‘Instead of shooting an expensive video, I’ll just ask several celebrities to record themselves singing this song then I’ll merge the clips and create a music video.’

When you have 90 percent of all famous peeps in this country in your video, there is no way it’s going to flop. Still, we can’t take it away from him. It was a genius idea. He thought about it before anyone else could.

Whether its lack of money to shoot a video that drove him to this decision, we don’t know yet. He needs to come clean. Haha.


Naiboi is a true example of what hard work and consistency can do. If you keep knocking, the doors will eventually open. They have to. Whether it’s by someone opening them for you or by them falling and succumbing to the pressure of your knocking, the doors will eventually give way.

The very first wise move he ever made was changing his name from Rapdamu to Naiboi. A name plays a big part in determining whether people will like you or not.

With a name like Rapdamu, you can never be a star. Such a name only fits an artiste who has been banished to underground chambers forever – an artiste who has probably been releasing music since “Tausi” was the most popular show in Kenya, but still doesn’t have a hit song.

There is definitely power in rebranding. After the name change, Naiboi set himself on a mission to be one of Kenya’s best.

We could always engage in endless discourse about what makes a song great but the most essential thing is usually the beat. If an artiste doesn’t work with great producers, his songs will only be hits among his circle friends – friends who will lie with the words “hiyo ni kali” yet the music can put anyone to sleep quicker than an afternoon maths lesson.

When certain artistes link up with certain producers, the exultation is usually profound. Nyashinski whirling on a Cedo beat, Clemo and Jua Cali or P-Unit and Musyoka. You definitely know the song is going to be heavy.


But then there are those individuals like Naiboi who can do both the production and the singing – the individuals who can deliver the bread and the margarine, the fries and the ketchup, the chapati and the madondo. They are the gifted hyphenates; they are the maestros of dual-tasking.

Like Kanye West, Naiboi refused to be just a producer making hits for stars. He had been making beats or a long time but he wanted to be an aficionado behind the mic too. Today, he can confidently say that he is. 

There is a lesson here. You don’t always have to settle for one thing. You can always do more if you want to.

And he’s handling his business side well too. He is still the boss at Pacho Records, a production house which is known for churning out some of the biggest hits in the country.

He has other great producers under his wing, including Jack On The Beat, the “Bazokizo” creator, Cedo, Jegede who also doubles as a singer like him, and Illogos.

There is only one way left to describe him – a man who has his affairs in order.

Let’s hope that “2 in 1” is the first among an extraordinary catalogue of hit songs to come from him.

Given how much work he has put into his craft; I am very optimistic that he will give us more like it.


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