Now that I’ve finally discovered Kenyan femcees, I want to share their music with everyone I know! The first song I found, a collaboration called “Kama Kawaida,” is still my fave. The title translates from Swahili to “As Usual”… which in the lyrics is just the best. Give it a listen:
After I fell in love with “Kama Kawaida”, I then set off to listen to all the artists in it. By far my favorite is Fena Gitu. She’s got such a great sense of humor and I love her voice.
Fena got her start in 2009 and she’s got a lot of spunk to her. I love her, and thankfully so does everyone else because she spent 2017 as the hottest thing in Kenya. My two faves from her are “She Doing Her Thing Tho” and “Sema Ng’we.”
I love this song because it’s empowering. The lyrics feel all about being yourself and ambitious towards your goals.
Sema Ng’we translates to “I dare you,” just like in the game truth or dare. The video is a fun representation of Fena doing a ton of dares in her bear onsie, which I just find hilarious and great. I love the youthful energy and nostalgia in this video and song.
Finally, her 2018 release with artist Rawbeena, “Romantic,” is pretty poppy, but the video is so fun. Definitely a good watch.
Muthoni Drummer Queen
Her upcoming album SHE (drops April 6th) seems like it’s gonna be epic based on the singles from it so far. Full of social and political commentary, MDQ does not hold back. Her first single release from the album is called “Kenyan Message” (intended to draw reference to Grand Master Flash’s “The Message”). On MDQ’s website, she explains the song “was largely inspired by the Kenyan doctors strike-turned into-movement for better health care systems in Kenya, which, went unresolved for 100 days despite the devastating effect it had on Kenyans. The lead character, a Kenyan female doctor addresses the political class and citizens of Kenyans equally, questioning the state of the Kenyan society and highlighting the endless political and economic scandals plaguing the country.”
Love that the lyrics are translated, because it’s definitely worth understanding. She even calls out Sepp Blatter! Like, YES.
The other single I really love that’s out from the album is “Suzie Noma”. It’s really fun to dance to, and its message is “a celebration of female friendship and empowerment of women all over Africa. It’s about women building something together with one another to create financial freedom for themselves and future generations.” If you like it, there’s a dance instructional video, too.
Mayonde is the most pop, least hip hop of the three. Her voice is very beautiful and feels a bit more diva to me… like she could hit all the high notes kind of thing. Her song from 2014 “Isikuti Love” is a good listen though. A fine song to listen whilst commuting or dancing around your house on a Saturday afternoon doing laundry. The music video will reaffirm your love of choreographed group dance and yes, it vibes Fresh Prince of Bel-Air dance styles.
Her tribute to Nairobi, rightfully named “Nairobi,” is a fun video as well, and features Stonee Jiwe for a little more hip hop essence.
So, before I close out, I wanted to mention Sheng, which is Swahili-English slang that incorporates other Kenyan ethnic groups. This article gives a good summary of Sheng and some examples, but I wanted to point out that a lot of the lyrics are a mix of English, Swahili, and Sheng. So when you bust out your DuoLingo to start taking Swahili lessons (because they offer it now!!!), you may not understand everything.
I hope you guys enjoy the Kenyan femcees as much as me! There are more to explore, and plenty of male vocalists as well. Lots of great music coming out of Kenya right now. Do you have favorites or recommendations?