Kenya has without a doubt one of the most exciting emerging sounds coming out of Africa. More specifically, the drill scene perfectly exemplifies the nation’s rise in music, one that is taking the world by storm and filling clubs from Nairobi all the way to London. We returned with Boiler Room to Nairobi this year for the third edition of the Ballantine’s True Music Studios, focusing on this cutting-edge genre, steeped in international and local heritage, with the aim of unpacking where it’s been, and more importantly, where it’s going.
With influence from the underground scenes of Southside Chicago, Kenyan drill combines youthful exuberance from the Nairobi streets (the likes of Buruklyn Boyz, this year’s collaborator) with heavily charged, high tempo bars and melodious piano riffs from the Windy City. To the international ear though, it is unrecognisable, given its adoption of the Swahili slang (Sheng) that is unique to Kenya. Despite this however, the emphatic Swahili lyrics interspersed with the English lexicon give Kenyan drill a unique flow which is nothing short of infectious.