Have Kenyan musicians lost their sense of identity? Most upcoming Kenyan musicians are leaning toward hip hop and other foreign genres.
People have different opinions concerning this fact. I had a chat with an Artist promoter on this topic and he told me that for a very long time, Kenyans lived in fear of creativity. His theory is that we were exposed to foreign music for more than 24 years, so our upcoming artistes produce what they grew up listening to.
Professor Mike Kuria of Daystar University, however differs with this theory. He says that during the period that Kenya was under tyrannical rule, was also the period that saw the birth of many creative works. Examples being A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and Micere Mugo’s works that caused them to go into exile.
Back to music… Ted Josiah has produced many hip hop Kenyan artists. The likes of Kalamashaka, and Necessary Noize. He has taken up a new project, producing a more localized genre of Music- SwaRnB. He is doing this through his new studio Sand Stone Studio (S3 studio).
SwaRnB is a genre that reflects the soul and identity of Kenyans. Through the new record label, he has produced Mswazzi Masauti, Kelmah Shiko, and Vivian Olang.
Watch a video about the rationale for coming up with this localized genre.
As a country we have accepted and legalized Swahili as our official language. Even though it has been hard to make us all adopt Kiswahili as our primary culture, the fact that we have accepted this language that has International outlook from Arab, Portugal, Chinese and West Africa influences as the preferred medium of communication across the country means appreciation and adoption of Kiswahili by all shouldn’t be harder than promoting Swahili. As a culture, Kiswahili has its cuisine, attire and music, and it is the music – music entrenched in deep poetry and soul reaching lyrics, that Tedd has borrowed to create a new wave, a new culture, a new identity – the SwaRnB Movement.