By Annette Amondi
The late 90s early 2000s had some of the most lit Kenyan songs and believe it or not, back then Kenyan was the envy of other East African countries when it came to dominating airwaves.
While many people debated for a very long time which of the two giant production houses (Ogopa Records and Califf Records) was the best, it is safe to say in their own space they gave us some of the most memorable hits.
Artists like Nameless, Nonini, Big Pin, the late E-Sir his kid bro Habib, Juacali, Pili Pili just to mention a few were household names back in the day.
So which were some of the most popular songs back then?
Nameless and E-sir’s Boomba train was unapologetically one of the best songs to ever come out of Ogopa records’ kitchen. The song was released just a few months before E- sir’s death on March 16th, 2003. In fact, Boomba Train was one of the last songs E-Sir performed at Dimples before the accident that claimed his life.
The song just had vibe to it that you want to sing along and dance to every bit. In fact, I know a number of people who had mastered Boomba Train’s lyrics so well thanks to those Sunday pull-outs that gave us lyrics to every popular song. While Nameless has never left our screens, many people miss his friend E-Sir making begging the question, If he was alive today would he still be a household name?
If you never sang along to Unbwogable by Gidigidi Majimaji, just go dry. This was one very lit track that even went on to leave its mark in the 2002 general elections. Funny how even people who did not understand the Luo parts of the song still had a grasp of the lyrics. Released in 2002 under A’mish records Unbwogable was that one song you could use to annoy your neighbour then a few hours later he would be playing the same song. Well in case you are wondering where they went to, they never left. Just tune your radio to the right frequency (Wink) and you will find Maji Maji. Gidi Gidi is also in the media working as a radio host.
3. Let’s get down
Nazizi the first lady and Prezzo teamed up to bring us Let’s get down and this song is still one of the shot callers when you talk about Kenyan old school hits. Well there’s really not much to say about this song other than the fact that it was lit.
Nazizi Hirji is currently working as a radio presenter while at the same time still doing some great music. She has a new song dubbed Harder than before featuring Levysill.
Well, Nazizi and Prezzo were just a perfect match for hot tracks. Their song Naleta action was also a household name back in the day.
Prezzo on the other hand has been on our screens courtesy of Nairobi Diaries and recently it was even announced that he has plans to join the Kenyan politics.
Where on earth did Ratatat ever go to? She was undoubtedly one of the best female rappers in the country back then. The track morale lit up crowds and was even one of the most danced to songs during Dance-o-Mania show which was one of the best Kenyan dance shows of all time. (Again if you don’t know it, you are either too young or too old) While Ratatat’s whereabouts are not clear, at the beginning of 2018 she was hosted on 10/10 by Willis Raburu and promised to do another collabo with Pilipili soon. Two years on, fans are still waiting.
Pili Pili on the other hand settled down with a fine lass with whom they have a teen daughter. He recently hinted that he intends to make a comeback. But time will tell. (Perhaps he should give Big Pin a call)
Talk of king of genge Juacali, he is the one artist who has been in the limelight from way back. He may have taken a brief hiatus sometime back but he has shown that he is indeed here to stay. If you are wondering what he has been up to. Log on to Youtube and check out his handle. Juacali featuring Flexx’s Nyundo is one song whos massive love cannot be explained. It was an artistically naughty song that even kids sang along to.
Flexx may have disappeared from our screens but he indeed left a mark.
Well it is safe to say it is impossible to exhaust the list of all the artists who made the onset of the last two decades epic. Some of the artists like the Longomba brothers who were also heavy hitters back in the day relocated to the states at the peak of their careers, released my Queen then disappeared. Henry Mutuku, Milele, Sita also boarded a plane that plunged their booming careers into a pit. Lyrical Erico, however, is rumoured to be hawking clothes in Gikomba after his career nosedived. Other artists like Big Pin, Angela ‘shinde’ Mwandanda and Big Pin have tried to get back to the top of the ladder but the journey has not been easy.
Here’s a list of the best Kenyan ol’skuls
Moss Moss by E-Sir featuring Brenda
Tumetoka Githurai by Mr Googz, Vinny Banton and Lenny
Vuta Pumz by Longombaz
Tafuta by Big Pin
Big Pin by Big Pin
Tuendelee Ama Tusiendelee – Kleptomaniaxx
Tetemesha – Redsan
Paulina by Jimwat feat Rhaphtaz
Kenyan Boy, Kenyan girl by Necessary Noize
Tension by Necessary Noize
Kamata by E-Sir
Huku Nairobi by Historians
Bamba by E-Sir featuring Big Pin, K-Rupt
Monalisa – Deux Vultures
The Bounce by Bamzigi
Amka Ukatike by C-Zars
Under 18 by Jimwat
Nipe Nikupe by CMB Prezzo
Naskia Utamu by The Bugz (Bobby Mapesa and VBO)
Si Lazima by P-Unit featuring Nonini
Teso by Tatuu
Head Shoulders, knees and Toes by girl band Sita
Bambika by Tyrical, Lyrical Erico and Shanky Radics