25 January 2013

Kenya: 'Unplugging' Contemporary Urban Music In Kenya

The spread of so called 'Urban' music in Kenya and how it is received is one of the most complicated kaleidoscopes in local creativity as it stands today.

Little known artists who boast unique talents are usually sacrificed at the public altar in favour of more palatable tunes and lyrics. The dynamics of these are as shifty as sand.

But the very stifling manner in which an apparent lack of interest can affect the urban music scene, depriving artistes of much needed income, is the very same way that pressure that is driving more and more artists to express themselves to their own private audiences.

In a move to say enough is enough, award winning producer and hitmaker Blackman has taken to the internet in a mini-revolution of sorts to give voice to urban musicians, with one take - a solid testament to their ability.

Dubbed Nairobi Sessions, Blackman uses a chair, a guitar, a Samsung camera and a musician to try and draw urban music lovers out of the closet.

"...totally un-rehearsed, the unplugged Nairobi Sessions introduce you to artists that you already know and those that you will get to know," reads a statement from the Blackman Entertainment Team.

Sarah Mitaru was first up with the project, singing her freshest track 'You Said' whose recorded version features Bien Aime of Sauti Sol.

With unconcealed excitement she reveals that since the video was uploaded just days ago, a tremendous amount of interest has been generated.

"We have gotten responses from all over the world... Kenyan contemporary music is largely ignored and yet it is massive in its very limited spaces. There is a breed of Kenyans who are fantastic musicians but they are not profiled, and people don't know how to access their music..." said Sara.

The live acoustic recordings are to be showcased online weekly throughout the year and will give viewers the world over a taste of Nairobi's finest musicians.

Nanjira is also signed to the Blackman Entertainment label and released a hit single late last year.

"He, as a producer, having a keen eye for diverse talent, thought it good to go ahead and showcase that Nairobi is a hub for musical talent... For some reason we've remained out of the African urban music convo... So instead of crying foul and waiting on someone to showcase what we have, behold, The Nairobi Sessions!" said Nanjira.

"What do you think? she wrote on Twitter.


Laura is a Senior Editor at Capital FM. She is also in charge of the Capital Lifestyle website. In more than 10 years at the station she has developed a zeal for social and youth development and works hard to uplift the local industries, such as music, art, and film. Laura is a writer, blogger, and a definite social media guru.

LAURA WALUBENGO has written 441 posts.


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