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”)!
Kenya is like a music factory, and it’s not just quantity: there is a diverse range of quality music in this country! Gospel, reggae, rap, you name it. I’m not sure if there is any local rock yet, but I’m sure it’s on the way. I’ve really come to appreciate Nairobi, though I don’t always understand it. The youth speak English and Swahili, but they’ve created an interesting hybrid, sheng, which evolves every single day. Sheng finds its way directly into Nairobi’s entertainment industry, so if you speak Swahili and you have no clue what the kids in Kenya are saying, you’re not alone!
Hii ngoma is “this music” and noma is sheng for “nice” or something like that. Basically, “this music is off the chains!” Also, if you haven’t seen Get Mziki.com‘s new music blog, you’re missing out! Enjoy these tracks from three of Nairobi’s most popular genge artists:
I posted a few days ago about my life in Tala. The main purpose of that was to get some pictures of my surroundings up online, but I ended up writing a lot about life in Tala. I’ve posted at least one “a day in the life” entries in the past, but this is a bit different. I realize most people who read my blog regularly have, by now, formulated their own pictures of what goes on in Kenya. I wanted to continue the trend of showing photos, and I happened to be running errands in Nairobi today, so I snapped some photos around town (embarrassing at first, but I decided I didn’t care after a bit). Hopefully these pictures add some color and correctness to the ones you already had in your head. Enjoy.
I like Nairobi, there are a lot of young people and the town has lots of energy. I’ve beentolarge cities in the countries neighboring Kenya but I’ve never come across a place which felt as fast and forward-moving as Nairobi; just ask any high school or university student in Kenya, new slang is being manufactured every day in tao (“town”… Nairobi). Maybe it’s because I live here, but I really think Nairobi stands out from other capital cities in the region. It’s a great city (don’t mind the “Nairobbery” nickname).