Before I share this playlist, I’d first like to acknowledge Leon [Omosh] - some random friend-of-a-friend I used to vibe with in my campus days. Man-dem is an exceptional producer; and in-as-much as we are out of touch nowadays, he still has the ‘feels’ in his beats. Watch how he produced Kengele in this BTS clip.
Next, I’d like to dedicate this post to both Jason Kalinga and Denzel [Daniel] Amenya. The former, a rapper that really made conscious music focused on mental health; and the latter, a dear friend I lost abruptly. Both died by suicide. And I’ve never really “moved” on; and I don’t think I ever will [in the sense of “forgetting” the important stuff they stood/believed for/in]. To Amenya, much love; always fam :(
Here are some really cool [mostly Kenyan] hip-hop/drill (Probably by folks you never heard of before). Take your time to have a listen - no rush. For each song I’ve curated, I try to provide some personal context.
Living It Up: Vibes and In’shallah vibes. More about being optimistic aptly captured in these lyrics: “Turn up the base/ … Drink with no chaser/ We just vibin’ feelin alive…” I also really like the IMHO subtle touch of self-care here; and the push for “freedom.” The saxophone is on-point too!
Shiny Days: Reggae chill vibes with a tinge of in’shallah vibes and a heavy dose of an optimistic take of life despite of life’s shenanigans. We all play the “game”; hope that we don’t stray; and importantly, we hope for “shiny” days. This song captures this - the sentiment of better days ahead - in a beautiful lyrical well-articulated way; and in particular: “… Not where I’d want to be huh/ But I’m on my way/ I play the game and soon I see/ The shiny days/ I don’t mean greener pastures/ I’m tryna build something that lasts …”
Purpose: The bars here, and in particular: “She like Blinky Bill when he playing/ And that’s just a band in her playlist/ But I’m just the man for the occasion …” That should make sense if you’ve been a fan of Just A Band - and their book: Just A Book. I found this line trippy AF: “This is the sound to the Matrix” - very relatable from a much way younger version of myself that went on a trip [double-entendre for the win \m/\m/]. For me, this song takes me to a dark time when the “oontz” really helped me go through a tough time after we lost Denzel. Funny, I found my ex-partner while oont-zing. In the lyrics: “I know it’s gonna be worth it now/ You I/ You I/ See through my heart …/ Sitting next to me/ Next to me …” Well, perhaps I was wrong/right [given me and my ex-partner wound up breaking up]?
Balance - J.K.: We need to maintain our balance in our lives. Jason Kalinga put it best: “… Sleeping on my talent my sister rang the alarm/ She told me that she loves my music/ I brought my eyes and realise that I just had to do it/ Back in to it like I never stopped/ Older and wiser see I read a lot/ Cuz I was never satisfied with the lies that they feeding us/… and I still know nothing/ it’s all different assumptions/ What is life, what is love what is pain?/ What is strife? Is it all just a game?/ What is the mind and is it inside of your brain?/ If I change it does it mean that I can change my habits, talents?/ … I try hard to retain my balance.” I have a baby sister (11 y/o ATM) and she reminds that I shouldn’t sleep on things I’m good at - like my guitar playing. She does this in a weirdly loving but sometimes annoying way, and it indeed feels like her “ringing the alarm.” Weirdly, it also ripples in other parts of my life. This song is deep, and in Jason Kalinga’s words: “Ignoring yourself is really easy; when you know dat, you know dat. Everything you put in your system, has an effect on how you thinking” Word!
Golden Goals: Kali, I reckon this is how you’d want to be remembered?
Mutuma - Kali had passed away by this time. And this was a tribute to him. And funny, this brings many fond memories of Denzel. Man-dem loved to sing. And at one point got into guitar playing. And we shared that: guitar playing. We were also mad hippies; all about love-and-in’shallah. This song make me miss both Kali and Denzel. Sad times.
Right - My break-up tune. Darn it. Some times makes get close close to tears; but you know what, in Mac Miller’s words: “No it hasn’t been easy lately/… I’m Good, I can’t complain/ Time gets harder, things get strange/ All I know, I don’t want you gone…” Yeah it’s hard: we deal with it and get on with it. And my friends, [in Mac Miller’s words]: “It’s never great/ But it’s never boring”. Nevertheless, sometimes I hope that “I’d still stumble into us” some time. Sad. I doubt that’ll ever happen. In a dear one’s words: “we move”. What else can we do?
Do Not Disturb - Sometimes you think you have your act together, but you just don’t. This song is a stark reminder of that. And the fact, that it’s okay to seek help. Also, this sort of, in a sick way, real: “Nairobi n****s love to drink and vibe a w**re/ Nairobi b****es ove to think a n***a lying though”
PS: Have a listen with a good system. Some of the guys really put in serious work in the production.