Living in Kenya is hilarious — I’ve learned more about rap during my last two years living in Kenya than when I lived in the United States. Maybe it’s because I always listened to metal music, but there is no missing the influence of American rap on Kenyan culture (Nairobi especially). You’ve seen the matatus, right? Kenyans know about rap/hip-hop artists dating back to Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. (and even less-mainstream artists like Army of the Pharoahs and Immortal Technique which I figured only conspiracy theorists like me knew about). The most obvious influence is from the rougher ‘gangsta’ and ‘crunk’ styles like Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Hurricane Chris, Young Juc, Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, etc. They rap about the usual stuff: money, guns, and bitches.
Of course I don’t understand most of what these guys are talking about (sheng changes every day), but you can see the style of rapping, dress, etc where the influence comes from! These tracks are a few years old so the video quality is iffy, but the music is nice (unless you hate rap!). If you wanna be real cool, head over to Get Mziki’s urban music blog and throw this stuff in your car. You might get some funny looks but don’t be embarrassed, this stuff is hot over here!
Abbas ft. Chiwawa — 2050
I have no idea what 2050 is, but he is saying he wants a fly chick, and the chick is saying she wants a guy with a house, money, and a car. Sikiza tu (“just listen”)!
Chiwawa — Mna feel aje?
Mna feel aje is “how are you guys feeling?” in sheng. Poa tena sana is “too cool.”
Abbas — Chapaa
He likes money… ‘chapaa’ is money in sheng.