THE KENYAN SOUND IS IN THE SREET
The most critical of artists’ I’ve spoken with on the fly, seem to share one common idea. That imported content is thrashing us because we don’t have an a strong musical identity. It seems like a common problem sparking questions like why don’t we have a Kenyan sound?
My contribution to this discourse would be a challenge that we find and concentrate more on things we share in common so we can find ways to mould them to represent who we are today. That way, we will have new art built on an old foundation of a rich artistic heritage. But for a successful mission, those things can’t be badly done counterfeits of already renowned products.
We are failing because we artists have just like everyone else developed negative attitudes towards our own cultural identity. It’s sad when our normal conversations have more naijja oksent than our local language variations like #shenglish.
This means that the artists have work to do in ensuring that the hues of our identity are not covered by emerging influences from around the world. For its part of an artist’s mandate to among other things preserve culture. Ours seems like a sad If you can’t beat them, join them situation judging from the number of musicians I see who strive more so to be like their own favorite musicians instead of only drawing inspiration from them.
Therefore, Kenyan music lacks a cultural identity and not even the Kenyan masses will love it if it keeps sounding like ugly cousins of other music.
Local music don’t need campaigns and protests to be appreciated, it needs a musical upgrade. Musical upgrade comes by first learning music generally and then learning the music you want to produce-in this case Kenyan music.
As far as musical identity is concerned, I’d say our music is like buffet at your finest restaurant cooked by a roadside kibanda guy.