As part of our Africa Series this week, we are shifting our focus to Kenya, where we found a vibrant mixture of interesting artists with even more interesting sounds. Lucky for us, these guys are no strangers to online uploads, so naturally we had to dig in. Here’s what we came back up with! – Words: Bianca Agenbag 
KRISTOFF

Kristoff is the latest hip hop kid on the Kenyan block, broke onto the scene with his debut track ‘Let’s Play House’ which was  hit on almost all African radio’s hottest countdown lists and followed with a remix called “Biashara”. With his trademark, rugged looks and raw, honest sound, we’re quite excited to see where this one will go. As if collaborating with Collo, Nyashinski, STL and Khaligraph has not been enough…

 

 

NJERI

Since the first time we heard about rap sensation Njeri we knew she was going to cause ripples. Although her sassy attitude and authentic vernacular are what earns her IT girl status, it’s her hit debut track “Nduta” that cemented her place on our radar. She raps in Kikuyu and she’s proud of it, “We can’t copy everything from the West. My Kikuyu is good so I can express myself in my mother tongue; that makes me original even to an international audience”, and that’s the way we like it. Currently, we’re looking forward to hear how her collaborations with Sugar and STL will turn out, but in the meantime, listen to this:

 

 

NOTI FLOW

This rapper thrives on controversy, no surprise, she’s not called Noti for nothing! When she does not get her videos banned she shares exciting (wink) selfies on her social media feeds. She’s a rule breaker and risk taker and we love it. Why? Because like any real badgirl she has the talent to back it all up. She has her own style of rap, referred to by many as the Kenyan Iggy Azalea, with hit songs that include “Doing what am doing”, “Peace”, “The Stars” and “Sunshine”. The real thumbs-up was her controversial Same Love video, a call out for same-sex couples acceptance in Kenya, which we wish we could show you, but Kenya Film Classification Board banned it from television.

 

 

OCTOPIZZO

A real “rags to riches” hip-hop artist, Octopizzo, went from Africa slums, breaking the mould with the 2012 hit song “Ivo Ivo” (now the rap anthem of Nairobi) to one of SA Hip Hop Magzine’s list of the 20 best artists in Africa. He’s talented, he’s got swag and we love his lyrics that speaks about real issues such as poverty, tribal wars and youth struggles, delivered through powerful wordplay and heavy punch lines. His mix-tape S.O.N. was the best selling mixtape in Kenyan hip hop history and he has shared the stage with international artists such as Dead Prezz, Black Twang and DJ Trouble Maker.  He has been nominated for various awards and won a Coastal Nzumari Award in 2012. Ocopizzo is also the first Kenyan artist to have his music on American rapper Jay Z’s platform Tidal and he started the Swaghili Movement in Kenya. Whoa what a mouth full… You can breathe now!

 

RABBIT
Meet Kaka Sungura, better known as Rabbit, the king of Kenyan rap. Signed to Sneed Music fresh out of matric. He got the chance to work alongside big names like Harry Kimani and Abbas Kunad, and from there things escalated. In 2008 he released his debut album ‘Tales of Kaka Sungura’ and Africa loved it despite it being in Swahili. He has since released 3 albums and over 100 songs in the form of mixtapes and collaborations. His rhythmic blend of African and American beats paired with lyrics about money and fast cars led to his huge success. He collaborated with Jorma Taccone from The Lonely Island resulting in a video with more than 1.2 million views and the remix of his song “Ligi Soo” became the most searched Kenyan item on Google. He is also a video director, executive producer, activist, actor and entrepreneur. Hustler yo!!

 

KHALIGRAPH JONES

This freestyling maverick is a force to be reckoned with. At 13 he released his first track, won the Channel O Emcee Africa competition at 19 and since has recorded more than 400 songs. Whether you’re into English or Swahili rap, Khaligraph has you covered. His style has been described as “different, unique and admirable”. And together with the rest of Kenya we can’t get enough of his hardcore, swaggin dress sense. He has worked with Kenyan A-listers like Xtatic, Rabbit, Kristoff and Abbas Kubaff amongst others. In 2014 he was named Kenyan Music Ambassador and he’s also the Face Of Kenyan Hip Hop. With his brand growing day by day, the lyrical free flowing rapper feels that it’s time to expand his fan base and will be touring Tanzania later this year. Watch out Africa, he is coming for you.

 

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