Not so long ago, singers from the coast operated in a cocoon. This wasn't by choice, it was by circumstance.
People from other parts of Kenya didn't really care about them. All the attention was directed to musicians who had their roots in Nairobi or at least those that sounded like they were from Nairobi.
Sheng with the aid of English, was the spine of Kenyan music. Pure Swahili was for Insha and Tanzanians.
A few coastal acts like Susumila did their best to stand out but they never really reached the status of 'national superstar.' We dismissed them with a virtual certificate of participation. Thanks for trying, but you are not what we are looking for.
No situation is permanent though. Whatever the circumstances, things tend to eventually change. And change did indeed come in the name of Otile Brown.
A combination of talent, tranquilized flow, ethereal technical adeptness and a short-lived tryst with Vera Sidika catapulted him to the grandest crests of fame. Otile was the kind of artiste we were not quite used to.
He dressed like a model, sang like a top Bongo artiste from 2006 and oozed romance like a character from Secreto De Amor (Ignore the outdated reference... . that's the only soap opera I know.)
Otile had our full attention. He had no direct competition. He was the only major Kenyan supplier of the Swahili romantic sound.
He even had the luxury of uploading songs and deleting them without offering any explanation to his fans.
He deleted a song called "Vera", which he had dedicated to his then vanilla-skinned lover. Later he went on to compose "Baby Love" for her. He also deleted a song with former Yamoto Band member Aslay called "Nikupe Nini."
Such are the effects of monopoly without regulation. A company can decide to withdraw a good or service and there's nothing the consumers will do about it.
ENTERS A GLADIATOR
But the reign hasn't lasted long. Another gladiator has entered the colosseum. His name is Masauti. His music is nothing to nap on. It's pure entertainment.
Like Otile Brown, Masauti's popularity has been partly boosted by another celebrity. I insist on the word 'partly'.
Jalang'o has kept on promoting him like he is his son. "Masauti this, Masauti that. Check out this new song by Masauti" I almost told Jalang'o off at some point but I don't normally get into arguments with people that I respect. Jalas has achieved so much. He earned my full respect a long time ago. So I just kept my displeasure to myself.
After being angered by Jalango's frequent Masauti advertisements, I soon realised he wasn't just trying to force-feed us something we didn't like. He had actually seen something we hadn't seen yet. Masauti was good and everyone is now realising it.
What Otile gave us in doses, Masauti is giving us in bags.
It's a good thing that Otile Brown now has competition. Hail competition, it brings out the best in people. Iron sharpens iron and brilliance begets brilliance.
A Hebrew proverb even puts it better - "The rivalry of scholars advances wisdom."
Cristiano and Messi, Tupac and Biggie, Wilder and Joshua, Wizkid and Davido, Khaligraph and Octopizzo. The above are but a few examples of how rivalry is 'best for business.' The complete list is longer than a Runda resident's supermarket receipt.
At least now we have the luxury of choice. We can take sides. We can debate and say Otile is better than Masauti or vice versa.
DID NOT COME TO PLAY
One thing's for sure. Masauti didn't come to play. He didn't come to exist, to be counted among the other Kenyan artistes. He came to compete.
To accompany his awesome music, he has been releasing the types of videos that you would normally associate with Konshens and Tyga. It's like his instruction to the director is always simple, "Put as many girls in there as you can find."
And it has worked. He is getting tons of views. They say you can't make history by being ordinary... .or fearful.
It would be great if these two artistes worked together but it would be even better if they got into a beef. Being friendly is too boring. I am not trying to be a war-monger here. Or am I?
Let the games begin.
For those who aren't impressed with Otile Brown's side-antics and only want good music, you have a new person to root for. Pick a side or pick both.
Masauti won't be the only one either. Otile opened the floodgates. More and more singers from the coast are going to flow into the airwaves. We have shown them that we can listen and now they are going to serve us.
Brace yourself for some interesting times to come.