24 years ago, there was a young DJ from Compton California who dreamed big; he wanted to be the best producer out there, and he was driven by the need to be successful. He had sufficient skills and talent to make a name for himself, but he needed to employ the talent of a raw rapper who suited his new style of G Funk that was then unknown to Hip Hop. After years of searching, his step brother introduced him to a tall, captivating rapper who snapped at the mic. After one year of working together, they recorded an album titled ‘The Chronic’; it was the producer’s album but the rapper was featured in every single song; the album went multi-platinum, and by this time the industry was yearning to hear more of this raw rapper. And as fate would have it, they worked on and released an album two years after that. The album sold 800,000 copies in its copies in its first week, catapulting Mr. Rapper into stardom.
The album was titled ‘Doggystyle’, and it was done by a young and hungry Snoop Dogg. Who was the Producer? None other than Hip Hop’s only billionaire, Dr. Dre.
The relevance of this tale is that this success story was somewhat replicated onto the Kenyan Scene. Coincidentally, the story also began in California; the one in Nairobi, of course. When Clemo decided to test the skills of Hubert Nakitare and Paul Nunda on the mic, little did he know that he was carving all their names into the history records of the Kenyan music scene. Fast forward nearly 20 years later, the above two gentlemen (you guys may know them better as Nonini and Jua Cali) are regarded as some of the finest rappers that this industry has seen. What seemed like a gamble at first has paid off handsomely for them.
However, the story surrounding Genge is as sad as it is uplifting; more have fallen than those that have succeeded. The success stories are countable; Nonini birthed P Unit, the greatest hip hop group to ever grace the scene, and that seems to be as far as it has gone when it comes to mainstream success.
The man predicted to have succeeded Jua Cali as the king of Genge, Jimw@t, unfortunately succumbed to drug usage. We all rallied behind him for support and now that he has recovered, we have eagerly anticipating his return; a return as such is beginning to seem unlikely, unfortunately.
Another predicted future king, Pilipili, took 2005 and 2006 by storm; is it possible to quantify how much fire he was feeding into the industry? How long had we yearned for a local bred singer to feed the industry with fluent Swahili club bangers? I was only 13 at the time but I could only imagine how untouchable he was.
However, looking back in retrospect; he kind of just came, kamatad his dame with so much morale, and bounced with his Kisima awards. We have rarely heard from the guy since then.
The same case applies to Rat-a-tat and Flexx; Remember Flexx? The ever smiling crooner who was synonymous with his naughty ‘Nyundo’ references? Wherever he is, I hope he at least got her number one or way or another; ‘hata kama ni za sistake’
This is just a chapter in the book of Genge though; there is so little that any of us know, as compared to what the artists themselves know. I hope they come out and share their stories with their ever loyal fans who want to relive the good old days; I know I do.
Word to the late Lady S; I hope she’s smiling.
By: Doug L Fresh
Writer and Poet; has an unhealthy obsession with Outkast