Thursday, September 03, 2009

Has Local Finally Taken Over From Bongo?

Another Mojo Sojo Ranting

Over the past couple of months, there's been a drastic increase in...wait for this... Kenyan music getting massive airplay in radio and TV (and online for those browsing junkies). A quick look at any "Top 10" worth glancing at and you will realize that there's actually no joint from Bongoland. Now that phenomena begs two questions that desperately need to be answered;

1. Is local taking over from Bongo?

2. Is Bongo down for the count?

To be able to answer these questions we must first look at the Bongo scene, from a Kenyan perspective of course. To start with; how many new joints from Bongo have been released recently?...Probably like two or three, running with like seven or so Kenyan releases. But here's the catch; these 2 joints are actually holding their weight against SEVEN Kenyan joints…are you with me here? What this means is that; 1 Bongo joint is about three and a half (3.5) times ‘heavier’ than a Kenyan one! Furthermore, when the shooters from the “south” do their multi releases (God forbid that happens anytime soon) the local guns don’t have a say on anything. Says a lot doesn't it? Let me break it down further for you.

Bongo somehow has seasonal releases that absolutely dominate the airwaves and leave the local "hits" high and dry, so to speak. You see, what the typical Kenyan musician doesn't get is while "Sheng'" is widespread, it is only limited to Kenya - thus can only be popular within the country before the "Ngeli ya Genge" gets incorporated into Tanzanian and Ugandan Swahili (and in some cases even in Mombasa Sheng ain’t too cool as well).

While Genge is busy trying to woo the masses into deciphering their coded speech, the next Bongo track is waiting to sweep the whole of East Africa off its feet. It would be suicidal for any Kenyan musician or critic to conclude that Bongo is down for the count.

The trick with Bongo is they work with content unlike local music that seems to have the same plot which is… party, party, party... and oh yeah, party!! Bongo has a blend of romance, distress, and party all shuffled into one. Some what like a "Swahili iPod".

Fine the Kenrazi's and the whatnot's are releasing song after song, but listen to their joints closely. His and most local musicians lyrics definitely tend to lean to a certain generation - that is the common teen (who eventually WILL outgrow the stuff). Then what? Bongo skids through all age gaps faster than Bebe Cool's "car"!

There is a reason a wise artist is a seasoned one. Take Redsan or Nameless for example; these guys will take eons to chuck a song and you'll even begin to forget about them, then bang! They chuck a song and they’re back on top of the charts. And their music is special, high quality. The only thing stopping anyone calling them Bongo artists is the

fact that they’re from the land of post election violence and politics of impunity. Small wonder, Redsan and Nameless are some of the biggest and ‘in demand’ artists in East Africa.

To summarize my ranting, this is what I have to say about Bongo (and their artists): A Bongo artist doesn't care for how many songs he/she has on the airwaves, but rather, his/her main concern is how long their song will STAY relevant on the airwaves.

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