A few weeks ago, Jamaican star Chronixx stormed 254 for the wildest rager to hit the City Under the Sun in recent times. However, what made this rager one of its kind is that it put the spotlight on breakout stars, Ethnic, moreso, one-third of the band, Boniface Mwangi aka Swat aka Mtoto wa Eunice. The group, which comprises Reckless, Zila and Seska, is still riding high on their hit, Lamba Lolo. The group has performed in various events including Kaya Fest, which was headlined by South Africa’s award-winning rapper, Nasty C. The MC, Jaymo Ule Msee, seized the occasion and asked Swat to remain on stage and do his verse a number of times, to the delight of the thousands of reggae fans.
Speaking to Spice, the 19-year-old, had this to say: “Most of the people who are enjoying our music are getting that feel good vibe that the likes of the late E-Sir brought to the game. I am happy people are loving our stuff and I know we are better together as a group,” intimated Swat. The 19-year-old is among the few breakout stars, who have managed to stay ahead of the pack.
Take Boutross of AD Family. He birthed a new genre, Shrap Music. This is a mixture of sheng and rap lingos and it forms the better part of the very youthful genre. The dreadlocked artiste rarely lacks energy and his mumble flows are a different style to the Kenyan market that is accustomed to lyrical perfection. ‘Roach’ as they refer to him has broken the group jinx and formed an identity of his own resembling that of urban American punk personalities, but by using his heritage, he has infused sheng to his swag to make him one of a kind figure. His hard work earned him a huge collaboration with Kenya’s rap president Octopizzo on Tergat Gang, helping Boutross attain huge shows and rap tours across Nairobi.
Another trailblaser is Rosa of Flag 42. Popularly known as ‘The Only Rosa’, the lead female emcee from Kenya’s legendary hip-hop group Flag 42 rocketed to fame this year following her hit single, Inside featuring Naiboi. This year alone she has been a constant feature on music charts locally, and even worked with Mr Eazi when he was in 254, and ripped major stages apart, such as Kayafest. Her seductive voice, immeasurable talent matched with her firey stage performances and outfits makes her an astounding natural in doing music.
Kush Tracey is yet another example. Her musical journey can be traced back when Sub-Saharan Africa ruled the roost. She came through under the group Millitary Swag, which comprised DeeBouwy and Stunnastun. Her journey as a solo act began when she met video director, Ricky Bekko during Rojo-Mo’s shoot.
“I met Kush during Rojo Mo’s shoot,” recounts Ricky. He goes on to add, “She was appearing as video vixen although she informed us she was also a rapper. She suggested we work together and I asked her to send me her music. To my surprise, she was good. We got the paperwork out of the way, and here we are three years later,” Ricky told Spice. .
However, no one’s tale is as unlikely as Coast rapper, Don Jowlz. His rise to fame through rapper Khaligraph Jones, whose major cosign on the song Khali Cartel was a huge chess move for Coast emcees. Jowlz broke out ahead of other natives such as Odinareh Bingwah, who is a vicious rhyme spitting artiste from Diani, South Coast. And while Jowlz is yet to release a full-length project, there is no question he displays a promising talent in the face of local music.
Take EA Wave’s Ukweli — he’s a genius when it comes to crafting mellow heart throbbing songs. His sound has earned him collaborations with Willow Smith, daughter of famous American actor Will Smith. Among his peers, he is adored and treated like the goldmine Kenya never had. The talented 21-year-old producer worked with former Camp Mulla member Karun, on her extended play (EP) titled, Indigo. The EP was a progressive and well-received project that gained worldwide reviews by international publications such as The Fader.
WHO BROKE THE MOULD?
Two words: Blinky Bill. The electric, but subtle Just a Band lead producer is now a solo act touring the world, performing alongside big international acts, and sparing a hand in some of the biggest records being produced worldwide. Back home, he is in charge of revolutionising Kenya’s electronic music scene with his ground-breaking space travelling beats. He incorporates an array of instruments such as electric guitars, future bass, shakers, and weird stringed instruments just to compose a Hahe or a Kama Kawaida anthem. He works with artistes such as Fena Gitu, Jaaz Odongo, EA Wave, Mayonde and many A-list acts. Blinky continues to be among the very scarce exports Kenya has musically to the global community. He is respected in every music circles abroad.