Aipate published 2015’s ultimate Kenyan Hip Hop acts and a year later followed it up with the 2016 list. Since then, Aipate’s Hip Hop lists have become so influential that we have had industry tastemakers anticipating the 2017 list. So it’s that time again.
I am well aware that no list will ever be accepted by everyone considering the competitive and egotistical nature of Hip Hop. I however will re-enumerate the factors we consider here at Aipate:
- Does one have a “more than decent” lyrical skill-set , reinforced by determination and strong work ethics? Do you know your strengths and working on weaknesses?
- Has one released and properly distributed projects, be it albums, EPs or mix-tapes? We know big underground artists but who only share ‘gems’ with with their crew in their hood.
- Does he/she create content that many can relate to? Its not just about flow, its more about those lines that we will remember and be inspired of in more than 20 years. Can you create or promote a positive culture? Is the artist also articulate in talking about current issues that affect the to-be fans?
- Does the artist command some Street Cred? Does he/she represent a group of people, those who will feel like you value them?
- Does one brand himself/herself well as you increase public awareness of their music? Maybe there’s nothing like a commercial artist, just those who know that they are branded walking billboards
Hip Hop is in deed growing in Kenya but we have a long way to even reach the genre’s penetration level as that witnessed in South Africa. Much is needed and a number of artists are doing a commendable job to build the industry.
So here’s the 2017 ultimate list of top Hip Hop artists in Kenya, ranked in descending order. Something to note is that, unlike the 2015 and 2016 lists, this year’s does not append an elaborate reasoning to each included entity. We will let you go back to the above factors and infer.
10. Fena Gitu
A newcomer to our list, Fena Gitu has become a serious contender considering her consistency giving us a unique but above-decent sound. This year has been a good one for her.
9. Kayvo KForce
He released an EP late last year. He remains a tough lyricist. Also, its is the first time he appears on our list.
Raj represents that new sound and has a string of hits to his name including “Obe Baba” and “Ndizi Flow”.
7. Muthoni Drummer Queen (MDQ)
MDQ is one of the most committed musicians in Kenya and one is who is both talented as well as staying true to the cause of raising the artistic bar higher.
6. Kaa La Moto
He has been releasing records intermittently but he puts his heart deep into creating content so compelling that even though the mainstream media doesn’t give him much attention, he has loads of fans who just can’t get enough.
5. Stella Mwangi (STL)
She is one of the greatest music exports that we have managed to produce. From her music being used as a soundtrack to a popular American TV show to her music making an impact in Norway, she continues to churn out hot records.
4. King Kaka
Formerly known as Rabbit or Kaka Sungura, King Kaka has made a name for himself as that artist who is good with words, some saying he is more of a poet. Still, his business acumen has given rise to Kaka Empire that continues to develop new talents. He has such a great and extensive catalogue.
He is fresh from the golden age and has proved that he can remain relevant, time not being a deterrent to his craft. Since his “return”, he has released a number of songs that, although transcends the confines of Hip Hop as a genre, have all become popular to the young and their seniors alike.
Twice topping previous lists, he finds himself coming second but only because the competition has become stiffer. With three albums already, his fourth LP, Papichulo is in the works and continues to help propel his brand higher.
Last year, an Aipate editorial suggested that 2016 would be Khaligraph’s year. Well, here we are. He has been the most talked about rapper of late and he has blessed us with a number of good tracks and videos. What is missing is his album but which he has indicated will be out soon.