March 19, 2010 – I salute every Kenyan musician out there with an ambition to make an impact in the industry. A handful have made it, and a mouthful have left with no influential reference whatsoever.
But since I wouldn’t want to go on and on explaining why “singers” like Wahu still remain a vague example of talent [did that come out too loud?], I’ll dedicate the next couple of paragraphs to a group whose style is beyond the very republic it represents.
I’ve grown up seeing Kenyan bands like 5Alive mellow their way out together with their bad fashion error in the mid 90s and usher in the rogue pioneers of Swahili hip hop trio-Kalamashaka, and that proudly established a genre that we would now seat back and refer to as zilizonyongwa kusaidia nchi isonge mbele.
But Kenya slowly witnessed a new breed of genius a couple of years ago, not just a group of guys setting out to make a compact disc, not just another record to make you all dance to for a week before it dries out, not just a style to try match up that of the boy-dwarf-band Kleptoma… [There I go again with my big mouth]; not just any other band…but Just-A-Band.
With that name, one would selfishly choose to conclude that these guys don’t have any creative bone in them to have come up with a stage name similar to that of the ultimate bore David Mathenge aka NAMELESS, but listening to their music I was forced into utter respect for this guys (Jim “air-brush guru” Chuchu, Dan “anime” Muli and Bill “Blinky” Sellanga), the geeky-looking trio who look like they can’t make music to save their lives.
Unlike other “singers” who step up claiming to be musicians and can’t even play an instrument [insert Wyre’s fake Jamaican accent here], these guys highlight their style through music that they intellectually engineer. I came to learn that there exists a genre called Experimental music from their first album “Scratch To Reveal” released in 2008, a 13 track collection of music that brought forth a positive relief from the usual Kenyan style of music that we were forced to get used to.
One thing I know is that there’s nothing experimental about what these lads do, they’ve found what defines them and are doing it to the very d.
What makes this group tick is the visual representation of their music which comes out perfectly in their videos. I’ll point out just one beautifully done from their fist album: “If I could”. Anyone with a romantic side will wish they’d go through a day as that depicted in that simple yet powerful video.
Their second album “82” graced the shelves in 2009 to an obvious high after a successful teaser campaign that they did months before the release. It features 13 tracks of soulful entertainment, with songs like the current craze “Ha He” that brings us a new Kenyan hero Makmende-the slick, gluteal region [I’ll spare your innocent mind from the definition to that word, but there’s always google search to spoil you] kicking afro guy who’s in no mood to entertain non-sense.
The ace retro-themed video has hit the local scene with a boom having many of us craving a movie about this guy. I have money on the table betting that Makmende would whoop your neighbourhood’s first bodi’s gluteal anyday… I DARE YOU!
I don’t see any positive turn coming from any other Kenyan band in a long time to come since the likes of “Sauti [tight pants] Sol” are living sadly under J-A-B’s shadow hence why they put words like Java in their lyrics hoping to land commercial deals.
So my advice is for us to embrace these guys’ albums [original, not dubbed on Imation or Sony] for they will remain a constant reminder of the time Kenya had true talent years to come when the NAMELESSES go on being allowed to record songs.
Watch the video by going to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbCxgmP_3vA