Kenya’s music scene is going through a slow but substantial renaissance that is lifting the country’s music profile by the day. Compared to its immediate neigbours, we are recording lower You Tube numbers, often loosely blamed on the quality of released videos. Top 10 Kenyan music videos released this year cumulate to around 10 million views so far whereas Diamond’s cumulative views for his past 2 songs released in 2016 add up to 11 million while Ali Kiba’s last 3 songs in 2016 stands at around 11 million too.
The factors facilitating their sudden growth vary from cross border collaborations, cheaper data plans, choice of video directors, distinct sound to content. Back home we are still towing with a very divided music market and an identity crisis thanks to the colonial – racial segregation that split Kenya’s music capital into two; the upmarket and down – market Nairobi now overlaid by economic segregation. The market is further split into secular music and a very active and competitive gospel music scene.
According to 2015 MCSK report, artists who appeal to the down-market or low income demographic collected the highest royalties and the same is replicated in Youtube views, power of the masses? Maybe. Just who are the heavyweights on Kenya’s You Tube today? 60% of the top ten songs this year (so far) are Gospel leaving 40% to secular music .Willy Paul and Papa Dennis dominate the list with two hit songs each. The two collaborated with continental stars Sauti Sol, Koredo Bello & Chidinma respectively.
Ringtone’s ‘ Tenda Wema’ featuring Tanzanian singer Christina Shusho completes the Gospel list. It’s actually the second biggest song this year second only to Sauti Sol’s ‘Unconditionally Bae’ which also features a Tanzanian artist. Sauti Sol dominates the secular end with two songs ‘ Unconditionally Bae’ and ‘Kuliko Jana’, Nyashinski’s comeback hit ‘Now You Know’ sits at fifth while his collaboration with pioneer artist Nameless ‘Let It Go’ sits at seventh position. Vicmass Luodollar’s viral ‘Bank Otuch’ video completes the secular list with well over 450k views just 5 months in.