The Kenyan music industry may have just started running but it’s been a long way coming, from back in the days when music was just a toddler and we still enjoyed it crying on our favourite radio stations, watch it’s videos of not so good quality and you couldn’t differentiate if the video session was done on a basic mobile phone camera but still one thing stands out, and that is our musical pioneers never gave up on breastfeeding this industry, We celebrate some of the pillars ( In no specific order ) that did pave way for that rapper in a live concert or singer in studio somewhere in Nairobi, Kisumu or even Moyale and remind them we owe this names big time.
1.LATE ISSAH MMARI AKA E-SIR
E-Sir was a Kenyan hip hop artist signed to the Ogopa Deejays label. He was famous for his deft lyrical ability and command of the Swahili language. He first came to be known in 2001 with his song “Jo” The song was E-Sir’s major hit in the Kenyan music scene and this phenomenal popularity of his music makes him a pillar that even long after his death, he is still widely regarded as one of the best rappers to emerge on the Kenyan hip hop scene.
2.THE MWATIA BROTHERS
Now I will be as specific as possible and we know four of Mwatia brothers and all are amazing talented power houses but am mainly looking at the two elder ones namely Roy Smith Mwatia better known by his stage name Rufftone and Owen Mwatia or should I call him Daddy Owen? Back in the days when you mentioned gospel music the next clue to hit your mind was a choir or at least a lady worshipper screaming with a microphone but this change with great work from Rufftone and Daddy Owen whom I personally hold responsible for the amazing new way of praise and giving a whole new meaning to worship.
3.DAVID MATHENGE AKA NAMELESS
Nameless is just a stage name and don’t think that will less any meaning in his name since David Mathenge goes down in history books as one of the top men who woke up urban music in Kenya. He rose to fame in 1999 with his original song ‘Megarider’ about a man who is trying to seduce a woman but only has money for the rich lifestyle she desires, a track that topped charts for months. Nameless is also one of the few artists who got to work with E-Sir first hand to winning multiple awards with his most precious achievement of getting married to Wahu Kagwi and having a family and last but not least Nameless is amongst the endangered species of Kenyan artists who have managed to remain relevant in the fast changing and ever growing Kenyan music industry.
4.SHARON WANGWE AKA LADY S
Lady S was a Kenyan female rapper and singer who started music when she was in form one at Luuya Girls’ School in Bungoma Western Kenya. She was one of the first female rappers who could take on their male counterparts in the music scene back then, discovered by rapper Jua Cali and got signed by Clement Rapudo aka Clemo of Calif records where she joined forces with fellow female musicians Rat-a-tat and Choku and formed the music group ‘Calif Angels’ and she got to record hit songs like Kilio, Manzi wa Mtaa, Wananiita and Lovely Ladies and sadly this was cut short when Lady S passed away in a road accident along Thika Road on Monday, 3rd of September 2007 but she still paved way for female musicians in the industry.
5.KALAMASHAKA AKA K-SHAKA
This Dandora based hip hop group came to fame back in 1997 with their song ‘Tafsiri Hii’ but the group made of three artists namely Otewa, Kama and Johnny was assembled way back in 1995. K-Shaka is the oldest hip hop group in Kenya and they are better know for their unique Swahili rap style something they have maintained over the years until now with messages that address evil in communities and political exploitation. Kalamashaka open the doors to multiple groups like Necessary Noize made up of Wyre and Nazizi, K-South consisting Bamboo and Abbas Kubaff, Gidi Gidi Maji Maji and many more. K-Shaka has managed to stay firm even after this long years seeing them leave a mark as one the true Kenyan music pioneers.
6.THE KENYAN BOYS CHOIR
This is my favorite and most admirable musical group in this country, The group consisting of 25 school boys and very young gifted musicians was formed in 2004 and has flagged our name on stages we only see on television, from performing with and being featured on Nelly Furtado’s album, sharing the red carpet and stage with international acts like Nina Dobrev, Demi Lovato,Shawn Desman,Kardinal Official and one of the greatest by performing at 2009 presidential inauguration of President of the United States of America Barack Obama. With there style and voices these guys make kenya proud and puts recognizable coordinates of the Kenyan music on the world map.