An Open Letter To Kenyan Artists of The Late 90s and Early 2000s

Good Morning all (musicians, composers, producers, exec producers et al),

Maybe it’s me but sometimes I start humming “Saa moja kumefika lazima ni harakishe nifike nyumbani” and I feel an overwhelming nostalgic need to listen to Necessary Noize I.

I don’t think there are those who realise what a reset it was to hear Hardstone and Swahili Nation play. I mean, few songs have an intro like Swahili Nation’s “Hakuna Matata

Other times I think about how Ogopa 1 was/is such a phenomenon. And want to reminisce by listening to it. For us who were coming into adulthood when Ogopa exploded (because it was an explosion) – this period in Kenyan music is significant and to act otherwise, in my opinion, is to lie.

Mama mama nataka kuwa rapper,”

Hallo, huyo ni Lilly?,”

This is how we move, when we groove, Serengeti Groove

Ukitaka mchongoano, utangoja

Iconic. And yet.

These few are examples of music that defined a generation. And I get sad because most from the music from this period are not available on streaming sites (or anywhere for that matter). And for reasons I (and I am sure many) do not understand. Yes, I have some of these on CD but at the moment, we are mostly streaming our music.

Now, I won’t pretend, we have heard the rumours about fall outs, outright theft and disagreements. Some musicians have also sadly passed away.

So I am curious and with this letter I am hoping to get an answer –

  • What must be done to make this music accessible? A signed petition? Lawyers?
  • Should we give up hope about ever being able to access this music on streaming sites?

Looking forward to a response.

Ciiku

PS: Although the focus of this letter is musicians and music from the mentioned period, it is also extended to Kenyan musicians whose music isn’t available on streaming sites for one reason or other.

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