Week 83: Music I’m Listening To

To be honest, I am still listening to Riley’s BGE (Her EP drops today so get into it. I will be).

Berita – Siyathandana [ft. Amanda Black] 

Tems – Damages (new album. Get into it)

Ari Lennox – Chocolate Pomegranate 

Music Review: Dela – Public Demand

I have said it and will repeat, Dela’s album Paukwa is one of the best Kenyan albums ever. But I am not here to discuss Paukwa. Dela released her latest album, 9 years after her first one, titled Public Demand on 30th April. The album has 15 songs and is 53 minutes long.

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In an interview, Dela talked of rebranding from Afro Soul to Afro Pop and listening to Public Demand makes this quite clear. The music is different from Paukwa and some may mistakenly assume that it is because of moving from Penya to Taurus Music. But this is not the case according to Dela who says, according to this interview, that she does not want to be boxed in a category. I respect that. With that in mind, I had to listen to this album as a stand alone without the thought that this is the same person who gave us the phenomenal Paukwa (She was 19!!!!! at the time).

Dela can sing. That she is vocally talented is obvious and undeniable as you listen to Public Demand. From the first song, which starts with Dela singing the Kenyan national anthem. To be honest, I expected her to do something with it, change it up a bit but she showcases her voice while singing it in the usual way.

I think I should come right off and say that I didn’t enjoy the singles she had released prior to the album coming out – Mafeelings, Adabu and still, listening to the album, I’m not a fan.

Almost all the songs start with her “Taurus Musik” which I am assuming is akin to Darkchild and DJ Mustard having their names in their songs.

Ahadi Zako, the second song in the album is a fast paced afro pop song which is one of the songs I believe showcases Dela’s move to the genre without diluting her essence (unlike Adabu and Mafeelings in my opinion).

Paza Sauti, which starts with a snippet of the national anthem, is a call to Kenyans to speak about what is going on in the country – a song that is so timely and should be released as a single sooner rather than later.

Te Le Mi, a duet with the absolutely brilliant Adekunle Gold is a stand out song in the album, I can even go so much to say that it is my best song on the album. I wish it was longer.

Mama, the lone song almost entirely sung in vernacular is beautiful, but I’ve been known to root for Kenyan songs not done in English so I am very here for this song.

Listen to this album with an open mind and don’t compare it to Paukwa. Her voice is fantastic and I get what she is trying to do and wish her the best. I’d like to see how she does this album live. I might just attend a concert.

Standout songs: Te Le Mi, Paza Sauti, Mama, the first 34 seconds of Controle and the Africa (Salif Keita Tribute)

MY Top 10 Tedd Josiah Songs

Tedd Josiah was a staple of the music industry back in the day and he produced one of my most favourite Kenyan songs (which features in this list of course). This was initially going to be titled Top 10 Blue Zebra songs since that was the label I associated him with but I found out a lot as I was doing research for this post hence the title I went with.

Also, I think a very detailed profile of this man needs to happen…. he knows a lot and there is definitely something that happened because some of the music he produced is not found online which made this post really hard to do.

Now, onto the list:

Honorable Mention

  • Gidigidi Majimaji – Unbwogable – I mean, it deserves a mention because it is a big song.
  • Hardstone – Uhiki – I know, I know – it should be top 10 BUT this is MY list so yeah, honorable mention.
  • Suzanna Owiyo – Kisumu 100

10. Nameless – Megarider

Iconic.

9. Darlin’ P – 4 in 1

Listen, I had to ask if this song was produced by Tedd Josiah. If you do not know this song, are you Kenyan?

8. Wicky Mosh – Atoti

How many of you do not know this song? Did you know Tedd Josiah produced it?

7. Shaz O Black – Serengeti Groove

This song is not online but you have to believe me when I say it is dope.

6. Necessary Noize – Da Di Da

This album is an iconic Kenyan album for many reasons and this song ranks pretty high for me.

5. Kalamashaka – Tafsiri Hii

4. Suzanna Owiyo – Atieno Sandore

If you have a chance to watch Suzanna Owiyo live, do it! She needs all the flowers, recognition… ALL OF IT!!

3. Hardstone – Msichana Mwafrika

WITH SHADZ O BLACK ON BACKING VOCALS.

2. Didge – Saa Zingine

Listen, I could put Kita Ngoma because both these songs SLAP. Also this song is probably on my top 20 most favourite Kenyan songs ever (I have no clue why the official video was scrapped from YouTube.)

https://soundcloud.com/ostoh/saa-zingine-didge

1. Kalamashaka ft Nikki – Songa Hapa

The skit at the beginning, the rap, the lyrics…. This song is perfect.

“Niwe wako black Julius Caesar”

A motherfucking jam.

 

Which is your favourite Tedd Josiah song? Did you even know he produced some of these tracks? Tweet me @AskCiiku

Video Review: Le Band , DJ Curtis – Mood

Listen, I’m just gonna come out and say it, I want these guys to win. I am rooting for them. Whenever I see they have new music out, I hold my breathe and clench my teeth.

And I KNOW…… I get that our market is far from perfect and making a career as an artist is not easy. I get that.

But before I delve further into this, the video for Le Band’s new song – Mood.

I cannot wait for a couple of things:

  1. For vocal coaching for these guys (maybe except Fidel but I mean, it would not hurt).
  2. For a proper video concept plus video directors who ensure that not only do videos have a concept and flow, but that when someone is singing a certain section of the song, that the video pans to them at least once. You would think this is obvious but apparently it is not.
  3. For Kenyan producers to PROPERLY line vocals with the beats. I mean COME ON!! This could have been such a banger….

Anyway, I know these guys are young and I BELIEVE THEY WILL GET BETTER. I really want them to win (and to never have trash lyrics please).

Video Review: Sauti Sol – Rewind ft Khaligraph Jones

Sauti Sol.

Man. Where do I begin?

As my friend says – the only way to reconcile yourself with Sauti Sol’s existence is by pretending Mwanzo never existed.

ANYWAY, Sauti Sol has been releasing music with corresponding videos in anticipation of their Afrikan Sauce LP in November 2018.

The latest offering is this nostalgic look at the past, featuring Khaligraph Jones.

Is the message from the video that they also miss the Mwanzo days? HA! I wish.

If you were to watch the video without listening to what they are saying, you would think it was a song about their story from when they began the journey. But no, it’s much more than that. It is about music as love, about the journey, about haters (who remembers when they wrote about those who were hating on them because they went to the gym?), about even if they had to do it again (REWIND!!)they would still make the same choices.

I guess Sauti Sol. I guess. Your lyrics are much improved in this one. Whew. I mean.

Now as for Khaligraph, he is begrudgingly growing on me – and I could actually follow what his story was and yeah, I kinda get it. I liked his feature on this.

But you know who shines in this song? Polycarp. And I am here for it. It’s about time. I hope he gets to shine more. Rock on!

Are they using the same person for their beats? Because that person needs a shoutout, their formula on catchiness is ace.

And that’s that on that.

Music Review: Muthoni Drummer Queen – She

Off the bat, I am going to say that this is my favourite MDQ jam.

Now, onto She – I’ve listened and sat with this album for a couple of days and it culminated when I told myself to write this review.

The album doesn’t have a specific genre. I don’t know how to qualify what is happening with the album. MDQ sings, raps, spoken word and even employs some reggae infusion. That being said, there seems to be a theme, empowerment. Self empowerment and women’s empowerment. This comes clearly especially in Dear Mathilde and Caged Bird

I think the sample applied on Kenyan Message is pretty dope. And this comes from someone who hates a good 80% of sampling done. It is also quite timely to have a protest song since the Kenyan government is really taking us through the most. I wonder if it would be considered a protest song?

At some point, I started realising that some songs reminded me of other songs. For example: Criminal reminds me of Rihanna’s Man Down and Lover at some point sounds like Beyoncé’s Formation. No more sounds like Beyoncé’s work it out. I also wasn’t sold on the reggae infusion but that might be a preference thing.

She is better than her previous album, production comes through. I wish the songs were ordered differently because as it sits, it sounds all over the place- I kept losing attention and then gaining it back. I probably think it is better than the previous offering because it doesn’t have random features that the previous album had which I felt didn’t showcase what MDQ can do.

In terms of style I think we can just accept the MDQ does what she wants and doesn’t want to get boxed in a corner. I can respect that.

Video Review: Le Band ft Khaligraph Jones – Nakupenda

 

Ciiku Says:

I am rooting for Le Band with everything in me. I am also hoping they change their name at some point but maybe they like it so much, I don’t know. Anyway, love this song of theirs and even if at times I know I am not the target market for their music, I respect their hustle.

Now onto their video:

If you’ve followed me on twitter you know I think we should stop dancing in our music videos. Rarely is there a Kenyan urban music video where the dancing makes sense. This video is no different. The three ladies dancing are off. Also, the two gents dancing with Fidel are off. I have to say that Fidel does the dancing bit quite well and hats off to him. (please watch this recent video for how dancing works in a music video).

There are little things that need to be done better like wardrobe, make up, editing but I am being  a bit soft on them because they are new-ish in the industry but I do hope that they continue to improve their craft (including vocal coaching).

And let me just say Fidel SHINES in this video. SHINES. Go on ahead, young man.

G Says:

Le Band have been on my radar for a while so it was good news to hear they had a new video out featuring Khaligraph. I was hoping for something different, something unique. What did I get? A rather lacklustre video to be quite honest.

For a song that is all about love, love that is meant to be genuine, a lot of it seems forced and Papa Jones just stands there. And the makeup?? (There is a behind the scenes video and a lot of work seems to have been put in but still, aki, we can try a little more)
Dig the part with Fidel on the street but the dancers are a distraction. The party scene brought back hints of H_art the band and hope Le Band stay original.

Review: Fena – Trouble – Official Video

Ciiku Says:

Fena releases such good music. Her voice is excellent, the beat for most her music is good. I consider her music feel good and I AM ROOTING FOR HER. In all honesty, she deserves EVERY SINGLE THING. All in all, I, me, myself, I’m quite enamored by her. And this is why I do not understand why her producers and video directors and editors continue to let her down.

Case in point:

Her new song “Trouble” is pretty dope. I urge you to listen to it before watching the video.

But this review isn’t about the song. It is about this video.

I am always curious whether Kenyan musicians have concepts before they do a video. Think – story line, colours, wardrobe, what message the video is meant to portray beyond the lyrics. Because, no. I also don’t get why video directors cut between scenes so often such that we as the viewers don’t have a moment to even enjoy or savor.

Also, I get brand promotion and plugging in music videos. I get it. But there has to be a better way to do it than was done in this video.

Anyway, I will continue to listen to this song without watching the video.

G Says:

Fena’s first jam of the year Trouble, like her previous songs, is a catchy tune about the trouble of finding and keeping love.
The Lucid Visuals produced video is a kawaida story of boy meets girls in a mall. There’s the moment their eyes meet and we tumble into a (day) dream date.
Fena looks like trouble–real shida– in pink but the rest of the video feels rushed, we move from scene to scene quite abruptly (can we please stop with this). Kidogo kidogo we are back to where it all started, eyes meeting, smiles.

Review: Ala – Shappaman, Kus ma, Savara, Kristoff, King Kanja

I think we can all agree that Camp Mulla, before disbanding, were dope. Pretty damn dope. Music was good, videos were great and I was sad when they separated. I have always said that the Hold it down (254low tribute) video is one of the best Kenyan music videos.

News of their reunion were met with ambivalence because in the time that they have been separated, some of the members have released music that wasn’t in the same wave as the initial music.

So when I saw that there was a new video shared on the official Camp Mulla YouTube channel, I was not ready.

Ciiku says:

As I watched this video, listened to this song, one word describes it: Disappointing. I mean, the song doesn’t include all the Camp Mulla members but that it was released on that channel, means something.

Do you remember when Cash Money would have so many people in a song to try mask it’s wackness? That’s what seems to be happening here. Savara can’t even save this song. The song’s terribleness aside, who mastered this song? There are parts of the song that are louder than others. Or was that the idea? Also, whats the story behind the video? It seems like they just agreed to meet and do whatever, video concept? what’s that? The audacity to hold up Chamdor as they threw 100 dollar bills is truly something. Why do we do these things surely?

I am holding out that when all the original members of Camp Mulla release a song, that my hope will not be for naught.

G says:

Somewhere in this song, Kus Ma says, “never need to come back/ we’re on the come up.” This video is just a reminder of how things can change. Camp Mulla were full of promise and I still remember how I felt when they broke up.
This video is disappointing and seeing this from Camp Mulla has made me skeptical about the new project. If this is what they call their come up, I hope they never come back, tulikuwa tumeshazoea.