For our third installment of True Music Africa, we’re headed to Nairobi, Kenya to broadcast a movement taking over the sound waves in this thriving metropolis.
EPISODE 3 NAIROBI: A NEW NARRATIVE
In Nairobi, DIY truly means Do It Yourself. Meet just a few of the pioneering artists shaping the self-made music scene.
In a city that moves to its own rhythms, a host of local DJ’s, MC’s and Vocalists are paving the way through untrodden realms of music to bring new energy to the local electro-scene. As a result of a current digital boom in Kenya, Nairobi is witnessing a full bloom of creative awakening. A rise and push in start-ups and entrepreneurship across fashion, art, and music where this new technological generation is really making its mark.
As this scene develops, so does a tectonic push in creating a new unique sound, one instantly recognisable as Kenyan. Introducing #NuNairobi, a technicolour musical frenzy with a sound that cuts across rap-fused electronica, R&B and club sounds. Not content with rehashing clichèd Western musical ideals, the producers and music-makers in the country are instead pushing the boundaries on electronic production, weaving in traditional roots to create something you’re guaranteed not to have heard before.
With Boiler Room, we hero-ed the country’s finest trailblazers and unique music hustlers with a party and streamed it live to the world. Catch all the sets here to watch the musical revolution from Kenya’s finest artists:
The creative conglomerate known as "East African Wave" is a collective of artists and producers from an array of disciplines, each working hard to forge a new sound and identity for their hometown of Nairobi. This desire is perhaps best expressed by the # NuNairobi movement, a statement of intention for their sound and aesthetic. Comprising six talented members, Ukweli, Nu Fvnk, Jinku, Hiribae, Muroe, Sichangi, the crew are crafting songs that feature the hazy melodies, rumbling bass and 808 sound that is being championed by young beat makers across the globe. Another marker of their attachment to the "new", is the fact that the clan formed following many interactions over online music streaming platform Soundcloud, since then they determined that there was strength in numbers, and it would appear now as if there was nothing that could stop the progression of this tuneful tribe.
Rapper and DJ, Taio was previously known for his involvement with the chart-topping Kenyan pop group Camp Mulla. Now a member of Cosmic Homies, Taio continues to embrace the DIY ethos, working on self-releasing tracks and putting his skills as an engineer to work. His solo discography includes a self-released a solo EP entitled ‘Man Made Machine’, which still holds top rank as the most downloaded album in Kenya a few years on. No stranger to the scene, both locally and internationally, Taio counts such reputable names as Blinky Bill, Muthoni, and the UK's Gilles Peterson among his admirers.
Rising DJ and producer Suraj notably combines modern house music with traditionally African vocals and instrumentation. Having started out playing the classical tablas through the influence of his father, he eventually moved on to producing electronically and becoming one of the most well-known known house producers in the city as a result. Often enjoying comparisons to such dance music royalty as Osunlade and his Yoruba records troupe, Suraj plays frequently around Africa and the wider world, often in conjunction with his 'Midi Minds' co-founders Dylan and Sheel.
DJ COCO EM
Nairobi based DJ Coco Em is well known for her eclectic sets, which dive deep into the contemporary Kenyan sound as well as from genres grown further afield, including hip-hop, afro house and other styles of electronic music. Her style and notoriety have earned her residencies at Nairobi’s most prominent venues, including the Alchemist and as part of the nine-strong female DJ collective Femme Electronic, she has also garnered a residency at the Kenya Gizia Lounge, a part of the National Theatre.
MUTHONI DRUMMER QUEEN
Multi-talented artist Muthoni Drummer Queen has a fearsome reputation within the industry, as a formidable singer, rapper, drummer and curator within Kenya's music scene. Her sound has evaded categorisation but attempts to place it within a box have seen her music described as afro-electro, owing to the mix of African drums and rhythmic patterns with modern fusion sounds from electronica to soft rock to hip-hop and dance. As an events organiser and curator, Muthoni sought to create an alternative space for her scene and sound to evolve. The Africa Nouveau Festivals. which have run since 2008, enjoy wild numbers in attendance and all present are supportive of the ever-evolving NuNairobi movement.