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8 Most Popular Music in Kenya & Why Visit Msambweni

music in Kenya
Kenyan rapper Nyashinski is the true definition of a superstar.

Image credit – www.capitalfm.co.ke

Popular music in Kenya has transformed in recent years. From the traditional music of the country, popular music has shifted to more modern genres like hip-hop and R&B. While traditional styles of music remain popular and have been fused with more modern sounds, many Kenyan artists have embraced going global. Among the most successful and popular musicians are Sauti Sol, Nyashinski, Fena Gitu and Willy Paul. Are you looking for beach houses in Mombasa or hotels in Msambweni to explore the music scene in Kenya?

cities of Kenya
Zein I’Abdin Ahmed Alamoody (center) with his fellow taarab musicians Omar Swaleh (left) and Anasi Mbwana in Mombasa.

Image credit – Andrew Eisenberg

The cities of Kenya have a vibrant music scene with many genres like traditional African music, gospel, reggae, hip-hop, benga, taarab, and afro-fusion. Traditional African music consists of drums, strings, horns, and other instruments. It is accompanied by singing and dancing. Gospel music is popular across the country and features both local and global artists. Reggae is popular, with bands like Makadem and Necessary Noize gaining global attention as well.

Hip-hop is a growing genre with artists such as Octopizzo and Khaligraph Jones emerging as major forces in the industry. Benga is a genre of music that originated in Kenya and is known for its upbeat rhythms and catchy melodies. Taarab is also a popular genre in the country and is a mix of African and Arabic music. Finally, afro-fusion is an emerging genre that combines traditional African music, hip-hop, and other genres.

Sauti Sol, a four-member band, has been one of the biggest successes in the Kenyan music scene. Their mix of traditional and modern genres, both Kenyan and international, has made them a household name. They have gained global recognition through collaborations with global stars like Ed Sheeran, Patoranking and Wyclef Jean.

Willy Paul is a gospel singer who has become well-known for his modern take on gospel music. His music includes hip-hop, R&B and afro-pop, and he has been recognized for his infectious melodies and catchy lyrics. He has released several chart-topping singles, and his 2018 album ‘Songs of Solomon’ was the highest-selling gospel album in Kenya.

Songs of Solomon

 Image credit – Boomplay Music

Key Facts

1. Revenue in the music streaming segment will reach US$11.89m in 2023.
2. Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 7.97%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$16.16m by 2027.
3. In the music streaming segment, the number of users will amount to 3 million by 2027.
4. In Kenya, 77% of people listen to music in the age group of 18-25 years.
5. In Kenya, 65% of males are passionate about music.

List of Traditional & Popular Music in Kenya You Must Know

Kenya is often thought of as the country of a thousand colors, but it is also the country of a thousand sounds, and these sounds are not just folklore. In the same way that a country’s cuisine can reveal a lot about its people to a visitor, a community’s music is a huge part of its culture. The traditional and popular music in Kenya is not any different. Let’s take a look at the list of 8 old and latest music in Kenya below.

[Suggested Read: 10 Major Cultural Festivals of Kenya & The Best Beach Resort]

1. Congolese Style & Benga

The guitar dominates all other instruments when it comes to popular music in Kenya. Guitar rhythms are complex and include both native and imported beats, mainly the Congolese rhythm.

Records by renowned Congolese guitarists like Edouard Massengo and Jean-Bosco Mwenda were popular in Kenya by 1952. Bosco’s Congolese finger style of picking with the thumb and forefinger was unique. Fast-paced and based on small groups, finger-style music features a second guitar that follows the first with bass rhythms.

Since the late 1960s, mainly in the Lake Victoria region, benga music in Kenya became famous. The term “benga” is used to describe any genre of pop music. The classic instruments are bass, guitar, and percussion. Folk songs are also known as traditional songs. These are popular within the various ethnic groups of Africa. The most popular type of music played in the Kikuyu community is called “Mugithi”. It is performed by a single singer with a guitar.

2. Swahili & Congolese Pop

Swahili & Congolese Pop
Members of the Orchestre Les Wanyika in Nairobi. They are (from left) Sijali Zuwa ‘Usikajali,’ Alfani Toni Malanga, Rashidi Juma (band leader) and Joseph Justy ‘Yellowman.’

Image credit – Anthony Omuya/NATION

The Swahili and the Congolese sound are the most popular music in Kenya. Both pop genres are played by Kenyan bands. Both are based on rumba from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The most well-liked artists in Kenya during the 1970s and 1980s were Congolese musicians.

They went out of style in the early 1990s. The Congolese band Orchestre Virunga was the most well-known and long-running. The Wanyika bands had all the major Swahili musicians during this time, many of whom were from Tanzania. The Western region of Kenya is home to the Luo people, one of the largest ethnic groups in Kenya, whose pop music best reflects the original Benga style.

East and south of Nairobi are the home regions of the Kamba people. Besides the Luo, their pop music shares many features with benga, but it also uses a second guitar. Les Kilimambogo Brothers Band, the Kalambya Boys & Kalambya Sisters are some of the most well-known Kamba pop bands that emerged in the middle of the 1970s.

3. Hip Hop & Genge

Kenyan Hip hop artist
Kenyan Hip hop artist G Rongi.

Image credit – www.hapakenya.com

Hip Hop is a well-liked and popular music in Kenya. Rappers use a variety of languages, such as English, Swahili, the Sheng dialect of the region, or even local dialects like Kikuyu (G.rongi), Kisii (Smallz Lethal), or Dholuo (Gidi Gidi Maji Maji). Genge is one of its many well-liked genres, and artists like Jua Cali, Nonini, and Jimwat showcase it. Also, there is Kapuka rap, which is depicted by musicians like Nameless, Needah of Grosspool Music and Xtatic.

The nation also has a sizable fan base for hardcore rap. It is displayed by lyricists and freestyle rappers like Mc Mike G of 237 cypher, Bamboo, Jay Fourz and more. The alternative Hip Hop Group Camp Mulla has achieved greater success than any other Kenyan artist in recorded history. As of 2012, they have been nominated for major awards like the BET Awards, had won two CHAT Awards and more.

4. Reggae

One of the most popular music in Kenya is Reggae. Although local pop music and Hip Hop in Kenya contain elements of reggae, Kenya has not produced many well-known reggae musicians. The late Mighty King Kong and Priest Fari were among the most well-known local reggae musicians. His style continues to be authentic Jamaican roots reggae.

trending music in Kenya
Deejay Stano tuned in to KBC.

Image credit – KBC Channel 1 TV

Jahkey Malle and Prince Otach are among the others. One of the best reggae musicians from Kenya and abroad, Reggae Ras Naya is based in Paris. Reggae music DJs and other talents have emerged as a result of the widespread love for the genre in Kenya. Dj Stano is the most outstanding DJ who shines in the hearts of all Reggae music fans in Kenya. He also made Reggae music culture the most trending music in Kenya.

5. Rock

local music in Kenya
20 More Days is one of the popular rock bands in Kenya.

Image via Facebook

A growing number of local rock bands, both established and up-coming are helping to solidify the genre by taking part in various rock-themed events that are jointly organized. Jars of Clay, Casting Crowns, 38th Parallel, Zebra & Giraffe, and other global rock bands have graced the local music in Kenya, reflecting the genre’s growing acceptance and influence.

By hosting concerts, organized member groups like Roffeke (Rock ‘n’ Roll Film Festival Kenya) played a crucial role in the early promotion of local rock bands in the nation.

kenya music and cultural festival
Eloko - Kenya Music and Cultural Festival was hosted in partnership with Nairobi Rocks Music Festival under the governance of the Rock Society of Kenya.

Image credit – Rock Society of Kenya

It also added to the growth of a thriving rock scene and the most popular music in Kenya. A governing body, the Rock Society of Kenya, was formed to advance the interests of member bands in recent years. The society organizes a variety of rock-related events, such as the Battle of the Bands and live rock club shows. There is a radio station that plays rock music called 98.4 Capital FM.

6. Kalpop

The Klassikan royal tribes and the Klassik Nation record label are where the musical style known as “Kalpop” first emerged. Kalpop is a style of Klassikan, African, lingual (multicultural), and popular music that first appeared in the middle of the 1990s and later spread to the US and the UK. There are many Kalpop musicians in Kenya like Don Santo, Jay Nuclear, Rekless and more. It is also one of the popular music in Kenya. The music festivals in Kenya 2022 showcased many Kalpop singers.

7. Gospel

Gospel, popular music in Kenya, is a vibrant and ever-evolving form of music that is deeply ingrained in the country’s culture and history. It is a type of Christian music that is sung with powerful vocals. It includes elements of traditional African music. Gospel music in Kenya is popular with both young and old and can be heard in churches, pubs, bars, and street corners all over the country. The popular genres of gospel music in Kenya include African gospel, modern gospel, and urban gospel.

The gospel music in Kenya today is very different from that of the 20th and early 21st centuries. There has been a lot of creativity, originality, and new methods of gospel music as a result of new faces in the industry, record labels, and recording studios. A well-known urban gospel performer who has stayed current in the field by steadily releasing songs one after the other is Rada. He embodies what it means to worship God in spirit and in truth.

8. African RnB

African RnB music blends traditional African rhythms and instruments with modern-day RnB, creating a unique and captivating sound. Its deep beats and melodic lines create a sonic landscape that is perfect for dancing and singing along. It is not popular music in Kenya yet.

But artists like Wizkid and Burna Boy have become huge stars in recent years thanks to their unique sound, and they have found success across the world. African RnB music is a powerful and uplifting style of music, and it is set to continue to grow in popularity in the years to come. It is among the new music in Kenya. Have you been to the Kenya National Music Festival 2022 yet or still finding a Kenya luxury hotel? Keep reading.

[Suggested Read: 15 Kenyan Things to Buy & The Best Beach Resort in Msambweni]

Take a Trip to Msambweni for Popular Music in Kenya

msambweni weather

Looking for beautiful places in Mombasa or near? Msambweni is the perfect place for music lovers who want to experience a unique combination of beachfront relaxation and the local and global music scene. Msambweni Beach House is located in a small fishing town called Msambweni in the south of Kenya.

It is one of the best Kenya beach houses, formerly known as Msambweni Beach House in the Kwale District of Coast Province. Msambweni has a stunning stretch of white sand that is bordered by pleasant villages. Where is Msambweni in Kenya? It is only 30 km away from Diani (the south coast of Mombasa) and one of the best places to explore popular music in Kenya. Besides having a 2.8km stretch of private beach, the Msambweni beach resort is only 15 minutes away from Msambweni beach. Msambweni weather is also pleasant all year round.

Msambweni beach hotel

The Msambweni beach hotel includes a Main House and 3 Msambweni Villas. The Main House has a 14 m infinity pool shared by 4 bedrooms with en suite bathrooms and 1 ocean suite. Each of the private villas in Msambweni features its own private pool, private garden, and a panoramic view of the sea, just a few meters from the main house. AC and digital satellite TV are provided in every room and villa. We have a private beach of 2.8 km along the Indian Ocean coastline.

activities in diani

Looking for scuba diving in Kenya or water activities in Diani (Mombasa south coast)? One of the best resorts in Msambweni offers many activities, both onsite and offsite. Onsite activities include indoor activities like ping pong, beach volleyball, mountain biking, and more. While offsite activities are dhow sundowner, mangrove and sandbank excursion, fishing and more. The hotel also has a relaxing spa and a Curio shop for souvenirs.

beach resort in Msambweni

Being the top beach resort in Msambweni, dining at Msambweni Beach House is an experience like no other. From French and Belgian cuisines to a custom meal cooked just for you, each meal is unique to your desire. Guests can choose to have a candlelight dinner under the African sky by the pool or a BBQ lunch by the beach.

A Mix of Traditional & Popular Music in Kenya

Kenyan folk music comes in a variety of styles that are based on the country’s more than 50 regional languages. Each of Kenya’s ethnic groups has its own folk music traditions, though most have seen a decline in appeal as gospel music has gained popularity in recent years.

Now, popular music in Kenya includes hip hop, reggae, soul, soukous, zouk, rock and roll, funk, and Europop, Zanzibaran taarab music. There are many music copyright laws in Kenya to protect Kenyan musicians. There are also a number of music schools in Kenya, and the western classical music scene there is expanding.

Searching for Mombasa beach hotel contacts or beach villas in Mombasa or near? If you are planning a trip to Kenya, stay at Msambweni Beach House in Msambweni where you can discover and enjoy popular music in Kenya.

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