To know where your going you need to know where your from. In order to examine where Kenyan Hip Hop we need to analyze it from its humble beginnings to what its now become. As far as I know the first Kenyan Hip Hop group was Kalamashaka composed of Johnny Vigetti, Kama and Roba.
Who is Kalamashaka ?? (Wikipedia page)
Kalamashaka was formed before 1995. They all resided in Dandora (one of Kenya’s biggest dumping sites, it’s a ghetto, more like Kenya’s Harlem). ‘Kala’ is swahili for ‘ate’ while ‘Mashaka’ means ‘trouble’. Their music is revolutionary, surviving in Dandora, a neighbourhood full of crime, drugs, police brutality, murders, gangs: you’ve seen it all. You know the tale too well. Their music is inspired by this stuff, they talk on day to day lives of common people, struggles, hustles in the ghetto not just in Kenya but everywhere in the world, being broke.
After enjoying local success with the likes of Tafsiri Hii and ‘Songa Hapa’ which rapidly rose to the No. 1 position on the Charts and holding this position for a number of weeks. Once again, Nairobians were not humming to Tupac’s “Wonder if Heavens Got a Ghetto”, or biggies “Hypnotized” but they all seemed to be rhyming to the opening lines of songa hapa: “Umeniattract vile microphone you attract Mc’s…”
Their first international and I mean INTERNATIONAL hit was Fanya Mambo. Which catapulted them to the top of African Hip Hop gave them a chance to tour Africa as well as Europe and they managed to shoot the Video to the song in New York . Snoop Dogg used to play their songs on his snoop dogg radio and was once quoted saying Here is Kalamashaka the hottest rap group out of Africa Ever.
Kalamashaka ft Saigon Hakuna Case
Simple and plain they are credited for starting Hip Hop on Kenya. They are to the Kenyan Industry what RUN DMC was to the American Industry. They challenged social injustices and talked on real life issues and they were the first East African Hip Hop Group to make it in the mainstream and take it to the world. This is where it all Began!! ( During the interview part of the Series we Hope for a chance to speak with one of their founding members, Kama)
And where are they Now?
They are working on a new Group Album to be produced by Ken Ring and am sure the usual suspects Chiz N Brain, Ambrose Akwabi and Nick Punk may show up. A few weeks ago Kama flew in to the states to take part in University Symposiums for Hip Hop and political science which gave me the opportunity catch up with him and get his new new album which we shall feature in the coming weeks.
Here is a video off Kama Kshaka’s new album.
Here is a recent mix of their old and new songs thanks to Kenring’s offical YouTube Channel