REVIEWS: LABDI, TETU SHANI, SIMPLY ADDY, CHECKMATE & NU FVNK
Forget about baseless “let’s make a track that sounds like Avicii” type of EDM tracks, there is a pool of musicians, producers and DJs who understand music and the process of fruitful music creation. Such are Simply Adi and Labdi, a humble pair of Dj Producer and Singer. They have individually been on a steady rise playing various small live and EDM gigs around Nairobi before they started working together.
Timbe is their second single after Waiting which preceded it. The production skills of Addy are exceptional for a guy who produces almost entirely on headphones. The construction of his Progressive Deep House tracks that fuse soulful vocals with heavy dance beats dotted with African influenced syncopated percussion and synthesizers that add a relaxing ambient.
Be it the cry of a woman desperate to be at peace with her wild lover or the plight of a life dying as a result of air pollution, Labdi’s strong and mature voice is also full of captivating emotion . I hope everyone worried about the Kenyan sound identity can finally see the light 😉
Be On The Rebound with Nu Fvnk
Nu Fvnk is one of the nu-breeds that form part of Nairobi’s new eclectic and dynamic EDM scene. From making some of the coolest bootlegs to sharing stage with Muthoni DQ at Airtel Sondeka Festival in August, he’s obviously got some something smucial (as in musically special).
Be On The Rebound is a composition of manipulated voice samples on Funky drums laced with colourful strokes of abstract synthesizers.
Tetu Shani Pays Homage To His Old Man
When he started as a percussionist, I doubt anyone imagined that Tetu could also write and sing. Then he became one of the best djembefolas on this side of life-even winning a scholarship to Barklee, all Kenyan musicians’ music education paradise and one of the world’s best and most prestigious music institutions…uko majuu.
He’s got a juicy story that we won’t tell until you’re all on your knees but he’s got a new song out.
“Nilifika mahali nikakubali me sitaki vita tena, Lazima tupendane”, goes Tetu in baritone-sounds like a gentleman trying to win back his lady’s forgiveness (again) but no, BGVs break into a harmony that “this is a song for my dad” in a warm acoustic cover of guitar riffs.
The raw acoustic guitar in the beginning doesn’t direct the untrained ear to any direction until the drums check in and you realize that this world-class song is actually modern Benga music. It’s also amazingly indie with such sophisticated emotions which only sounds to me like a hybrid of Vampire Diaries and Jonny Cash. It’s a very good song that has also been very well produced.
Here’s The Coolest Gospel Hip Hop Track
I almost thought God had recently commanded that all gospel music be sang in tongues (Asusu, Kuchu Kuchu) until Othole released this track then all my worries ika Pita Nayo. Othole is a veteran gospel rapper and producer known for producing heavy gospel hits such as Niko Na Reason by Holy Dave and Ekko Dyda.
Pita Nayo (sheng phrase used in various contexts such as to mean stealing, showing defeat over something…) is a witty satirical wordplay mirroring various societal habits alluding to issues such as character, religion, promiscuity and beliefs.
Othole comes out in this track as a mature artist and a guardian of moral values.
The flow is tight, the track makes you bop the whole time but sound could be better. The general volume fluctuates at some point (hoping that it’s not my sound system) and the mixing is wanting, especially on the track. Various bass and synth frequencies are not tamed, causing audio irritation on certain parts.
Maria Salaam Checkmate
Checkmate is one of the baddest MCs around Nairobi but he’s too busy spreading Nairobi love in Europe right now. The contemporary dancer is also a poet and a thespian but before his die-hards pounce on me, the brother can also beatbox and play percussion.
Maria Salaam is a reflective song in which he talks about his own life as an artist, father and a brave urbanite qualified and experienced in the ways of the streets.
The track done in English, Sheng and Swahili was produced by Nu Fvnk is totally out of the box considering that most rappers are now going the trap way. However, the low end areas especially the drops could do with a little more time in the lab.
Checkmate is now in Germany doing a series of contemporary art performances until December.