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East African musicians break boundaries

This year has seen East African musicians break boundaries to churn culture-surpassing content. Chebet Korir samples some of 2018’s best

As the year comes to a close, we have witnessed a number of music collaborations in Kenya that hit the right note. Kenya’s biggest musical acts have been uniting the continent, a song at a time with collaborations that resonate in the hearts and ears of the masses irrespective of language, region or religion.

This might be because they have had all the technical support they’ve ever needed or out of the growing need to have that unifying factor that would bring home the good tidings. Talents and maturity in their approaches to music could also have played a huge role too.

One for the show

Especially in 2018, we have seen a growing trend of established artistes doing collaborations from and beyond the continent’s precincts. But the question remains whether the Kenyan acts do get value out of such collaborations or is it all for the publicity? Some of these music unions do receive an appealing public reception, while others are just drab.

For instance, singer Willy Paul has perfected his art as far as collabos are concerned. His catalogue is dotted by artistes such as the globally-acclaimed Jamaican reggae singer, Alaine, Tanzanian heartthrob, Harmonize, and Nadia  on the song, Njiwa. The jam has amassed almost seven million YouTube views in a span of five months.

In a recent interview, the Tam Tam hit singer explained that he saw something in singer Nadia that convinced him she was perfect to work with. As Njiwa was well received by many, his recent collaboration with Jamaican reggae artiste, Cecile, Sikireti, stirred mixed reactions amongst Kenyans.

Some people felt the song was just whack while others thought he could have done better. Worse yet, Cecile was also dragged into the mess with trollers telling her to pull up her socks. Our efforts to reach him for a comment were futile.

Wins and some more

We also experienced unexpected collaborations such as Kagwe Mungai and Niniola from Nigeria earlier in the year in the song dubbed, Till
The End
. You’ve got to hand it to Kagwe. Whenever he gets a chance to expand his fan base in parts of Africa where his presence could still be less felt than it is in 254, he always grabs and runs away with it.

“I believe we artistes benefit by collaborating, as we get to enter into each other’s market and explore the music. Also, we get to create music and art that, besides entertainment, can create great impact for many generations to come,” says Kagwe, adding that he is scheduled to release a song with Tanzania’s finest, Vanessa Mdee, in the coming year.

The controversial Akothee also performed remarkably well this year, collaborating with artistes in the west such as MC Galaxy on the song Oyoyo. It was rumoured that she spent more than Sh4 million for renting private cars just to shoot the video in Kisumu.

Rapper Khaligraph Jones, who also won this year’s Best Rap Act at the annual African Muzik Magazine Awards, says that collaborations have indeed opened doors for other opportunities for him as it expands the audience.

“In my album, Testimony 1990, I have worked with diverse artistes including Mr Eazi, who is a renowned artiste in Nigeria. That creates a strong catalogue for me and it boosts my credentials,” he told Spice.

This year, Sauti Sol collaborated with Nigeria’s Tiwa Savage, Zikki hit the studio with Jamaica’s Tarrus Riley, Nyashinski with American deejay and record producer, Diplo and King Kanja with American R&B icon, Bobby Valentino. While Kenyan artistes are expanding their fan base, so are other artistes around East Africa.

Across the border

Bongo’s Diamond Platnumz has created a soulful music experience with collaborations. His 18-song album, A Boy From Tandale, is a charm to both Western and African audiences. He featured a host of heavyweight artistes including Omarion, Rick Ross, Morgan Heritage and Ne-Yo.

This has worked well for his entertainment unit, Wasafi Classics Baby, helping him to expose artistes such as Harmonze and Rayvanny. Ugandan artistes have also been able to cut across diverse music cultures, with singer Sheebah Karungi scored one with Nigerian superstar, Runtown, while A Pass collaborated with one of Jamaica’s finest dancehall stars, Konshens.

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