Fusion of genres,vernacular music makes a unique come back.

Thanks to the rising trend of genre fusion, tables have turned vernacular songs are no longer a reserve for the older generation.

Piece by: PAUL AMUKO

• Kenyan music scene witnesses a shift in preferences, with emergence of Afro fusion as a genre that captivates both the young and old.

• This shift marks a departure from the dominance of urban music genres and a renewed appreciation for traditional sounds such as Benga, Mugithi, Ohangla, and Rhumba.

Image: instagram

In recent years, the Kenyan music scene has witnessed a remarkable shift in preferences, with the emergence of Afro-fusion as a genre that captivates both the young and old.

 This shift marks a departure from the dominance of urban music genres and a renewed appreciation for traditional sounds such as Benga, Mugithi, Ohangla, and Rhumba.

 The fusion of genres and the infusion of local and global elements have given rise to a new wave of alternative acts that are redefining the music sphere in Kenya.

One notable pioneer in the Afro-fusion scene is Makadem, who has ventured beyond traditional Ohangla and jazz to experiment with a unique style he calls 'nyatititroniks.

This blend of traditional and electronic sounds showcases the innovative nature of Kenyan musicians who strive to create a distinct and contemporary sound.

 Makadem's exploration of Afro-fusion has inspired a generation of artists to embrace their cultural heritage while pushing musical boundaries.

Among the new acts making waves in the Afro-fusion scene is Yaba, who fuses Rhumba, Trap, and Soulful Benga. Yaba's music resonates with the trap-loving youth of Kenya, with themes ranging from storytelling to activism. His tracks, such as 'Mr. Lover' and 'Jaber,' exemplify the fusion of genres and the seamless blending of traditional and contemporary sounds.

Another rising star is Brian Sigu, who incorporates Benga into a contemporary sound. Songs like 'Mapenzi' featuring Winyo Siphton and 'Ojoga' showcase Sigu's ability to bridge the gap between traditional and modern music, captivating audiences with his unique style.

Brian Sigu
Image: Instagram

Udulele John, stands out with his soulful Benga blended with percussive sounds drawn from East African instrumentation.

His music takes listeners on an Afro-futuristic journey, blending traditional rhythms with futuristic elements. Tracks like 'Lamu Tamu' and 'Nyambura' embody the richness of Udulele John's musical expression.

Ayrosh, the founder of Folk Fusion Nairobi, brings a fresh perspective to Afro fusion. With his Gikuyu Afro pop style, Ayrosh infuses contemporary elements into traditional folk music, creating a sound that resonates with both local and international audiences.

Songs like 'Maheni' and 'Nuu' exemplify Ayrosh's ability to blend traditional roots with modern sensibilities.

Fadhilee Itulya, a musician deeply rooted in Kenyan guitar music called OMUTIBO, presents a unique blend of acoustic folk, pop/dance, and world music.

His music draws inspiration from his Luhya heritage and is characterized by driving rhythms and catchy melodies. Fadhilee's influence from artists such as Habib Koite and Ayub Ogada shines through in his songs, creating a captivating fusion of cultures.

Tetu Shani
Image: Instagram

Tetu Shani, an accomplished singer-songwriter, has gained recognition for his Afro Pop-Rock sound. His music combines indie rock, Afro-pop, and folk elements from Kenya, resulting in a genre-defying style. Tetu's versatility, storytelling abilities, and dynamic range have earned him praise and opportunities to perform across East Africa.

This resurgence of interest in Afro fusion is significant for several reasons. Firstly, it breaks the dominance of urban music genres that had marginalized traditional music forms like Benga, Mugithi, Ohangla, and Rhumba.

By incorporating these traditional sounds into contemporary compositions, Afro fusion artists are revitalizing and preserving Kenya's rich musical heritage. 

Bridging the generational gap and making these genres accessible and appealing to both the older generation and the youth.

Furthermore, the rise of Afro fusion challenges the perception that vernacular music is outdated or inferior.

It demonstrates that music can be both rooted in cultural traditions and forward-thinking, appealing to a wide range of listeners.

This inclusivity and celebration of diverse musical expressions contribute to a sense of national pride and identity.

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