Gengetone is no longer a new wave taking over the music scene, it has somewhat established itself and musicians identifying with this sub-genre are making in-roads in the local industry.
It has revolutionized the way we view Kenyan music. It has changed the old styles, shifted careers of veteran musicians and completely dominated the Kenyan party scene in recent months. However, despite their success, there is still a need to check and guide musicians instead of giving it blind support in the Kenyan music scene.
The wave has confused producers, musicians, influencers and writers like me who have observed various patterns of the Kenyan music scene, wondering if it is just a phase or whether gengetone acts will remain as strong and formidable when the year comes to an end. My argument is that they continue to make music that is like a one-night stand. One could say, “I will surely love it today but tomorrow I will not love it again and I will forget about it tomorrow.” The music lacks depth, substantial messaging or quality production.
For me, it is like the gospel industry in Kenya is struggling with its inability to create music that moves. A perfect example is Bahati’s latest song with Boondocks gang. The song is called ‘Taniua’ and listening to it I thought it was time we question gengetone artists because it is getting out of hand. Personally I thought the whole four-minute clip was a mockery of everything a Christian believes in, not to mention the very shallow lyrics.
To be honest we cannot judge the intentions of Boondocks gang releasing a gospel song but we should question why they shared a superficial message, in the Bahati collaboration.
A perfect example of artists from different genres coming together for a gospel collab would be King Kaka’s ‘Njia’. The song heavy with emotion is a better gospel song that most. Great messaging, with appropriate production.
Indeed, it appears Bahati just wanted to jump on the bandwagon of artists who are working with gengetone artists in order to remain relevant.
Note, I do not have a problem with Boondocks Gang as an entity and the fact that they released a gospel song, it is the fact they released a mediocre song. For instance Odi wa Murang’a’s rap begins with Eloi! Eloi! mashadda fangi gani . ‘Eloi’ a term used in the Bible by Jesus in the crucifixion as “Eloi Eloi Lama Sabaktan” which is loosely translated to “Lord why have you forsaken me”. If only they would have passed on some of their convictions, it would have proved to be a song worth listening to.
Gengetone artists need to know there is a line that should not be crossed. That line extends to songs with scandalous lyrics about women and consent like Ethic did in their song ‘Tarimbo’ which criticized for promoting rape and non-consensual sex.
Even though Gengetone artists want to keep their music fun, at some point they must learn to draw a line around morality and the music they make otherwise, it will end most of their careers even before they have begun.