Part of a community’s culture is made up of the music they create. Music can tell a foreigner a lot about a country or its people without knowing much about them. Kenyan music is no different. And since there are travellers who love collecting music from the places they have visited, here is a short summary of the Kenyan music scene.
This category consists of Kenyan folk music. The 42 tribes of Kenyan all speak different languages and are independent mini-communities by their own rights. Therefore, each community has its own music, in their own language, and relative to their traditional ways of life. Some of the traditional music can be found on YouTube, but they are best enjoyed live. Weddings, funerals, some baby showers and religious organizations offer this live experience. The Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi can be an easier alternative for those staying for a shorter period.
Christians and Muslims have taken the forefront in making their music commercial compared to the other religions present in the country. Christians especially dominate the sector with a genre known as Gospel Music yielding from it. Most Gospel songs can be found on online sites including YouTube, Sound Cloud and the likes.
Afro-fusion and Underground Music
Afro-fusion music is a mixture of traditional and urban Kenyan music. This means that the beats and tempo are borrowed from traditional musical instruments, while the style of singing remains urban and catchy. A great example of this genre is Benga music. Notable Kenyan musicians who champion this genre are Eric Wainaina, Dan Aceda and Atemi Oyungu. Such music is available online and can also be enjoyed live in venues such as Alliance Francaise.
Old School Music
Old school jams are perhaps one of the most favourite genres for most Kenyans. Old school music simply refers to urban music that was produced more than ten years ago. Some of the musicians still produce music till date including artists such as Nameless, Wahu, Jua Cali and Nonini. However, most have retired, while others have unfortunately passed on. Old school music is often played on matatu buses, some local radio stations and nightclubs.
Urban New School Music
Every generation has to come with its own artists and creators. This remains a strong fact even in Kenya. The country has seen the rise of many young and able artistes who continue to shape the music sector. Here there are many other smaller genres including hip hop, trap music, house music, RnB and rap. Most of the urban music can be easily accessed on YouTube and other local sites such as Mdundo.com.
We hope you get to enjoy Kenyan music as much as you enjoy Kenyan people and Kenyan soil!