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The top ten Kenyan artists of the decade

Kenya’s music scene has grown immensely this decade, from sounds like Kapuka, Genge and now the new age Gengetone.

Although the influence of Afrobeats, Kwaito, Bongo and Dancehall music has taken over in Kenya, movements such as #PlayKeMusic is a sure sign that Kenyan music will soon be at its rightful place.

With that being said, The Sauce sought to find out the Kenyan artists who have stood out in the music industry this decade and Capital FM mixmaster Yoram Mwangi alias DJ Protégé offered some much need insight.

Here are the ten Kenyan musicians of the decade according to Dj Protégé.

1. Khaligraph Jones

Award-winning rapper Brian Omollo aka Khaligraph Jones has been a force to reckon with since his cypher days on Capital FM’s Hits Not Homework show. He has been in the game for a number of years and has consistently dropped new music throughout the decade from his first hit. He is known for hits like ‘Gwala’, ‘Yego’, ‘Leave Me Alone’,’ Toa Tint’,’Mazishi’ and ‘We Be Happening’.Aside from controversies, he is an artist who understands showbiz and is quite vocal on social media. He has gone on to do collaborations with many artists, win awards, perform on international stages and make a name for himself as the O.G.

2. Ethic Entertainment

Hitmaking group Ethic made up of young stars SWAT Mtoto wa Eunice, Rekles, Seska and Zilla took Kenya by storm in 2018 with their vulgar club banger ‘Lamba Lolo’. The release of ‘Lamba Lolo’ took Kenyan music to new heights as the song garnered millions of views on Youtube. They have since released, ‘Figa’, ‘Tarimbo’, ‘Pandana’ and ‘Instagram’. The group introduced Gengetone to Kenya and opened the door for so many artists to effectively change the sound of music in Kenya for a youthful audience.

3. Sauti Sol

This list would not have been complete without Sauti Sol, a band that came to life at a top institution of learning to become a world-acclaimed Kenyan afro-pop band. The foursome consists of Bein Aime Baraza, Savara Mudigi, Willis Chimano and Polycarp Otieno alias Fancy Fingers. Not only have they been constantly dropping new music every year like ‘Lazizi’, ‘Melanin’,’Kuliko Jana’,’Blue Uniform, ‘Nishike’, ‘Isabella’, ‘Unconditionally Bae’ and ‘Sura Yako’. They have worked on four albums, collaborated with top stars, given incredible live performances and have set high standards for fellow artists as well as won prestigious awards. They have toured the most and have also opened the door for new artists to take over following the formation of Sol generation.

3. Fena

Music superstar Fena Gitu is just something else. Years ago she started out with a different sound and released hits like ‘Birikicho’ and ‘Dutch’. Now, she is showing the world how phenomenal she can be with hits like ‘Steam’, Sema Ng’we’ and ‘Doing her thing tho’. She is Kenya’s first femcee to drop a proper album, I say proper because it is the first widely accepted album. The first would be Muthoni the Drummer Queen (MDQ) who paved the way for the likes of Fena and many others to come. Fena has changed her sound to become more relevant and appeal to a wider audience. Her live performance has also been amazing.

4. The Kansoul

The Kansoul established in 2014 is made up of hitmakers Madtraxx, Mejja and Kid Kora. The trio is the brainchild of many club bangers. Madtraxx is solely responsible for two of the biggest and timeless hits played to this day at every club. ‘Skamaress’ and ‘Get Down’ are less than a decade old, and while new music has dropped. These two songs, despite being 8& 9 years old can be heard in every club at prime times. They have managed to stay relevant dropping new music like ‘Accelerator’, ‘Bablas’ and ‘No Woman No Party’ that appeals to their core base and the new market as well.

5. Karun

Karun Mungai formerly known as Miss Karun was only a teenager when she entered the music scene with the group Camp Mullah. As part of Camp Mullah, Karun was one of the most noticeable faces of the group when then took over the scene at the beginning of the decade. The group rose to prominence with the release of their debut single ‘Party Don’t Stop’ on the 31st of August 2010. They came in with a fresh new sound that resonates to this day which led them to win an MTV award and a BET nomination. Having left the group, taken time off to study and become a mother, she’s recently come back with a fresh new sound unlike most artists in the Kenyan scene with hits like ‘Glow’ and ‘Hit me up’. She has refused to follow the crowd, something that has helped her create a fresh new sound and loyal listenership.

6. Blinky Bill

Bill Sellanga popularly known as Blinky Bill, is a Kenyan musician, producer and DJ. He is also part of Kenyan art and music collective Just A Band. He is undoubtedly Kenya’s best kept secret and he appeals to a niche audience. Blinky has a fresh new sound that has earned him a spot on the international stage like the Afro-Punk Festival in Johannesburg where he will be performing to usher in 2020. Blinky is a trailblazer of the urban music scene with hits like ‘Atenshan’ and ‘Mungu Halali’. What’s more interesting is that apart from Sauti Sol, Blinky could easily be one of Kenya’s most toured artists gaining more popularity to a foreign audience than Kenyan.

7. Samidoh

Samuel Muchoki Ndirangu popularly known as Samidoh is a man who comes from two different worlds. He is a policeman and a highly regarded Kikuyu pop star. He was a backup artist for Kamande wa Kioi’s band but in 2016 he ventured into a solo music career. He can be best described as the new age Salim junior. Samidoh rose to fame quickly and brought to life an incredible sound that resonates with a very large audience based some of whom don’t even speak the language. His concerts are some of the most attended and he’s become one of the most toured artists of the last two years.

8. Willy Paul

Willy Paul whose real name is Wilson Abubakar Radido is the one artist Kenyans love to hate because of his numerous controversies. However, despite the checkered image, Willy Pozze could easily be described as Kenya’s answer to Diamond Platnumz. He’s consistently released songs year after year like ‘Sijafika’ and ‘Kitanzi’. He has also managed to pull off enviable collabos with some of the world’s top artists including Alaine and Cecile. His songs are played in churches, weddings, clubs and concerts alike, you can choose to hate him but you cannot ignore him.

9. Nyashinski

Nyamari Ongegu aka Nyashinski is Kenya’s favourite son. He started out his career in the rap group Kleptomaniax and after a ten-year hiatus in the States, he came back to single-handedly take over the Kenyans music scene. He is famed for being the comeback king, he has released over 10 singles his return in 2016 some of them include ‘Now you know’, ‘Aminia’, ‘Free’,’Bebi Bebi’ and ‘Marathon Runner’. A number of Kenyans still want to see the old rapping style Nyashinski, however, this new sound had consistently been a hit and his performances are worth the dime. It is no wonder he is one of Kenyans top paid artist.

10. King Kaka

Kenneth Ombima or otherwise known as King Kaka is a man who started from the bottom and now he is here securing the bag. He has a unique sound, although not commercially popular and has expanded his empire ‘Kaka Empire’ through sheer hard work. He is a Remy Martin brand ambassador as well as champions for the eradication of period poverty. He maintains a cult following, from his days as Rabbit, he’s been very popular and managed to become a proper household name with his collabo with Kristoff ‘Dundain’. He’s gained notoriety once more with his recent wordplay, ‘Wajinga Nyinyi’.

Bonus: Naiboi.

Naiboi formerly known as Rapdamu is a multi-talented artist who has risen to the top over the years. He is one guest at a party you don’t realize you need until you notice he’s not there. Naiboi has held the Kenyan music scene keeping it relevant between the age where the likes of Redsan, P-Unit and other Kenyan artists of the early 2010s left off and the new age Gengetone. He’s opened the door for the likes of Arrow Bwoy. He is a great performer who has had amazing shows throughout the country and even worked with Grammy award-winning reggae group Morgan Heritage.

Others include Swahili crooner Otile brown who melts the hearts of his lady fans with his music and Genge king Juacali who has held down his spot as a legend in the game.

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