Gengetone has definitely changed the music in Kenya. It is the beat of the moment but will it last?
Now don’t get me wrong if I don’t think the tone will last through next year. I support #playke music and I’m in no way a hatter of gengetone artists; but lets be realistic.
Gengetone has been extraordinarily doing well. From clubs to churches to our daily lives, it has captured the ear of everyone. It has given a platform to many young artists who had been struggling to make a name. Even established artists have taken up the beat to try and keep relevancy.
However, Kenyans are a hard people to please all the time and just when you thought you had it figured, boom!!! they leave you like they never knew you.
Maybe I can take you down memory lane.
Growing up, as a result of western influence, HipHop was the thing. K-Shaka, Ukoo Flani, MauMau, mashifta and the likes ruled the airwaves. Then came genge with Calif Records artists taking over. Nonini was the bad biy of the industry with Juacali having catchy lines. Oh and there was Flexx. After genge, there was Kapuka and from there we just didn’t appreciate as much Kenyan music.
Bongo, kwaito and afrobeat took over alternating until early 2018 when gengetone took over. Looking at this cycle, its evident that gengetone will follow the same path.
Gengetone has been largely characterised by groups. Whether it’s Ethic, Sailors, Boondock gang, Ochungulo, wanati among others, it’s the group dynamic that makes it tick.
All these artists have individual goals and soon will find themselves wanting to breakup. So far, apart from Sailors, others have had individual artists featured in other songs. This may not sit well with the others in time. The only group that has stood the test of time in Kenya is Sauti Sol and it’s left to be seen if there will be another.
Sponsorship – This will definitely be something to look out for. The media was first skeptical about playing most of the new age artists due to what was termed as the use of vulgar language. Over time, this music has found itself at the limelight.
Money has been streaming in though slowly. Will more sponsorship be coming? Clubs have played a big part in sponsoring these artists. While some have already performed in big festivals in the country, big brands endorsement has remained elusive.
The other thing that will lead to the downfall is language. Most of these songs are the same in terms of content. Glorify sex, weed, alcohol and party life. They all are feel good and party songs. So how will long will that last? The country’s economy is not looking good and things might be tougher next year. It will be either find solace in party songs or encouragement songs. My guess, the latter.
Who Will Survive Gengetone Death?
Gengetone will not go away, only artists who won’t adapt. Many groups will die and I’m no doomsday prophet.
Artists who can stand out from groups will definitely survive.
To survive the death, one will need to learn the flow of the masses. Only an artist who can deliver in any beat will survive. Khaligraph is a great example of an artist who can flow in any song and deliver. Wyre and Nameless have stood the test of time and Nyashinski has done what no other Kenyan artist has done because they understand the flow.
Building a personal/group brand will be key. Most of these groups have the same flow and thus even sponsors can only endorse one group at a time. Sauti Sol have curved out their brand and so have Kansoul.
So who do you think will survive?