The Scramble for Kenyan Clout

Kenyan performing artist, Lisa Oduor

On November 4th 2018 Blankets and wine celebrated their 10th anniversary with an all Kenyan line up. Now, for those of you who may not know the significance of this event, let me get you guys all caught up. Blankets and Wine is responsible for elevating careers of some of Kenya’s greatest acts; guys like Sauti Sol and the founder, MDQ. So it was only befitting that these two great Kenyan acts graced the stage for such an auspicious occasion. Now, being someone who LOVED the concept of this event to a point I was looking forward to turning legal just to attend it back in the day, I was disappointed that a foreign act who was performing in Nakuru the day before basically got all the traction. The fact that I don’t have to say who that was proves my point. (It was Wizkid) for those who are living under a rock.

It makes perfect sense to want to go to a Wizkid concert given his recent achievements in 2018 alone. From signing to the same record label as Chris Brown, Bryson Tiller and Khalid just to name a few to walking the runway with the modeling legend Naomi Campbell  to just generally embodying features across the board. But having this in mind, all these traction a foreign act was getting on our land got me thinking. If we give this kind of hype to Kenyan acts do they stand a chance of equaling or even topping these achievements? If so, why aren’t we?

A fortnight later the same thought still lingers on my mind but now I’ve come up with theories as to why we might be over looking great Kenyan acts for foreign acts. This doesn’t just apply in who is given the biggest bucks to come for events but in terms of buying both music and merchandise to generally requesting music on the airwaves and our playlists on whatever platform. Since I’ve been writing so passionately about this, one would think I’m on the right side of the argument but like most Kenyans, I unconsciously support more foreign content that I do Kenyan. So what exactly is the issue with us? Are our artists not good enough? Does the market force promoters to focus on the foreign acts and neglect Kenyan acts?

Here’s my take. I used to feel there was no Kenyan act that really got the music I wanted to listen to without necessarily looking and so I gravitated towards foreign acts. But because I’ve had this issue on my mind for a while now, I took it upon myself to actually search before I could speak on the matter. I feel like you already know where I’m going with this; from guys like Ciano to Xeniah Manasseh to  Kato Change and Lisa Oduor. There is some sonic magic in this country and these people might be more to my taste. If you actually look you can each find something for yourself.

This is obviously a subject we can’t exhaustively talk about in one article. So we start this conversation to head down the right road. Some of you may disagree with me while some of you agree with me. Let’s talk about it in the comments.