At the beginning of 2019, a lot of Kenyan artistes were an angry lot mainly for what they termed as lack of airplay.
Led by rapper Khaligraph Jones and music producer cum singer Naiboi, Kenyan artistes created a social media wave under the hashtag #playke music.
The artistes argued that they have not been receiving airplay from local media houses as well as Kenyan deejays.
At one point Khaligraph Jones even offered to fund Kenyan presenters to a trip to Nigeria to go verify whether they play Kenyan music as much as Nigerian music was being played in Kenya.
The #PlayKE wave was so massive that it got the attention of Tanzanian artistes and producers.
Wasafi Records management went on to argue that they have never once complained when Kenyan music is played in Tanzania nor when Kenyan artistes perform in their country.
The main trigger of the wave was the fact that Nigerian and Bongo music had rocked Kenyan airwaves so much that our own artistes struggled to even get requests from fans.
Then came Mid 2019 when a new wave just crept in to cleanse the Play Kenyan music debate. The wave in question, a new genre of Kenyan music dubbed ‘Gengetone’ a style of music that had not been done before on these soils.
Some may argue that Gengetone was adapted from a style dubbed ‘Genge’ which is mainly associated with one of Kenya’s baddest rappers Juacali.
Gengetone hit not only the clubs but also the airwaves and mainly because of its ability to make you jiggle even when you have no clue what the artistes are singing about.
Tunes like Lamba Lolo, Wainame, Queen B, Pandana, Figa, Rieng among others were the most played songs in 2019.
Even the veterans behind the #PlayKE were a happy lot at the rise of gengetone.
Juacali, Octopizzo and even Khaligraph Jones (Even though the project was never released) worked with the new kids on the block to propel this new music genre.
In a previous interview with Naiboi, he was happy that the new genre has gotten a huge backing and is receiving airplay.
He however maintained that he will keep on fighting for Kenyan content to be played locally.
“There is a change, there are TV and Radio stations I never thought would play Kenyan music but now they have them on rotation. I’ve always wondered why they don’t play any Kenyan, are they trying to say that those who play Kenyan are crazy? Yes there’s change but you can best believe I am not done with this fight.” He said
As much as Gengetone is loved, it has been hit with controversy in equal measure.
Many argue that the fast-beats genre is too vulgar and promotes immorality and this even resulted into the shot life of some gengetone hits.
Late 2019, Ethic Crew (The godfathers of Gengetone, if you may) released a song dubbed Tarimbo, whose lyrics were termed offensive and many argued that it promotes rape.
Moral cop Ezekiel Mutua ordered that the song be pulled down from Youtube on grounds of immorality. This wasn’t the only blow the group suffered in 2019, their song ‘Figa’ was also pulled down from Youtube over copyright allegations. The group lifted the beats to the song from Dutch singer’s Puri, Jhorrmountain and Adje track dubbed Coño.
Gengetone has managed to keep rocking Kenyan airwaves since its birth but many still argue that the genre will wash out very fast because of the all too familiar beats.
So will Gengetone do for Kenya what Dancehall did for Jamaica? Time will tell…