With the hiphop renaissance taking place in the country, Manuel Ntoyai shines the spoltlight on one of the platforms it seeks to establish itself through
A few weeks ago, blogger and showbiz personality Patrick Sampao tweeted about the comeback of Ukoo Flani and for hiphop lovers, there would be no greater news than that in 2018. Already hiphop movements are busy at work releasing musical projects with others accompanied with community projects. To juggle your memory, Ukoo Flani is part of the group that wrote the Kenyan hiphop history coming out with a unique style of hiphop which they called Kaya hiphop.
In the early 90’s Ukoo Flani from Mombasa and Tabaka Family from Malindi pioneered Kaya hiphop, as a genre of conscious music aimed at spreading love and the importance of unity preserving the African culture and heritage. Kaya hiphop evolved from Gonda music which was originally Mijikenda traditional music with elements of rap and Mijikenda instrumentals.
Ukoo Flani’s second studio album recorded at Headbangaz International was titled Kaya Hiphop and had hits like Hiphop Halisi, Burn Dem and brought out to the national limelight the likes of Sharama, Cannibal, Fujo Makelele, Nguchi P and many more dope rappers. However, with the decline of the genres fortune in the region, so did its popularity, with each day getting less and less airplay and attention from the public.
“ Some of us grew up being influenced by the first generation of Ukoo Flani. These included the likes of RIC, Nguchi P, Fujo Makelele and during beach parties, they would switch to our local vernacular (Mijikenda) and this would excite us,” says Kaladze Vidze.
Kaladze Vidze is one of the current flag bearers of Kaya hiphop which he says is the same as the one originating from Bronx New York, with the difference being the fusion of Mijikenda cultures.
“ We now use hiphop as a means of reaching out to fellow youths with different messages. Despite the low attention the hiphop is receiving at the moment, we have been able to do a number of community led projects,” he adds.
With the approaching wave and calls for the crusade to revive the state of Kenyan hiphop on going, some rappers like Sharama has taken up the mantle to try to help build the hype. He is part of the crew organising Kaya hiphop, as a monthly event that they hope will be used to rally more hiphop fans to come out in large numbers and support the craft.
Over the weekend, they held an event at the Goethe Institut, which saw a significant number of people coming out to enjoy the free gig. The most obvious being the upcoming acts who got the opportunity to express themselves and perform for the first time in such “uptown like” crowds. While performing, upcoming rap group Wafalme not only electrified the crowd, but also gave an insight on what the event can give rise to. “There are different things we can achieve through Kaya hiphop but the main thing is that we want to bring back the zeal that hiphop fans have been missing. At the same time, it is also a great platform for some of the young acts whom we mentor to come and practice their skills in terms of stage presence, mic handling and such things,” Sharama told Spice.
Just like the name Kaya, which means home or shrine in Giriama, its a platform through which champions of Kenyan hiphop can root for its awakening while offering a chance for others to be recognised. At the moment, while the longterm plan for the event is to tour different parts of the country, Nairobi was the first step in the direction.