Kenya has a rich musical history that spans styles like Rhumba, Afro Pop, Folk Music, Taarab, and Gengetone – a genre that evolved from Kenya’s hip hop.
This diversity makes Kenya one of the most intoxicating musical cultures in Africa. You’ll find some of the continent’s industry heavyweights here.
In this Kenya music guide, you’ll discover eclectic music. Read on for a list of seasoned and up-and-coming artists in Kenya I think you’ll enjoy in 2022.
Sauti Sol is arguably one of the biggest Afro-pop bands in Africa. Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano, Savara Mudigi and Polycarp Otieno formed the band in 2005.
Since then, their sound, albums, and performances have earned them local and then international acclaim. Their songs almost always top Kenyan and African charts. Over the years, they’ve held several successful tours in Africa, Europe, and the US.
Their songs Suzanna and Short and Sweet are some of the most viewed songs on Youtube in Kenya. Safe to say they are a hit; you will love them too.
David Mathenge, whose stage name is Nameless, is a household name in the Kenyan music scene. After a talent search competition, the singer rose to fame and has been in the industry for almost two decades.
He is one of Kenya’s biggest stars. But he has played a considerable role in getting many artists in the country to be recognized globally and get opportunities to work with other African artists.
He is known for his Afro-soul and Afro-pop songs but has released other genres of music that have been equally successful.
When it comes to up-and-coming artists on Kenya music guides, Nikita Kering is front and center. She is one of the youngest musicians in the country. Still, She has already broken records with several accolades and awards in Africa.
Though young, Nikita is known for powerful vocals and for conveying strong emotions in her songs.
It’s hard to choose a favorite of her songs, but if I had to, I’d recommend one of her first songs, Tragedy. She displays emotion rare for someone so young and addresses essential themes.
Bill Sellanga, popularly known as Blinky Bill, is a DJ, rapper, and producer who has put modern Kenyan music on global airwaves. His is a mix of electronic music, futuristic African beats, funk, and hip hop.
His first solo project in 2016, We Cut Keys While You Wait garnered much attention. He has performed at famous festivals like The Cape Town Jazz Festival and Little gig in Stellenbosch.
He also founded the Kenyan electronic music and art collective, Just A Band. Their music video “Ha-He,” was considered one of Kenya’s first viral sensations when it came out.
Muthoni Drummer Queen
Muthoni Drummer is a rapper and drummer known for producing alternative electro-hip-hop music. She fuses African drums, hip hop, reggae/dance hall, and neo-soul blues.
Not only is she a fantastic musician, but she also founded popular festivals Africa Nouveau and Blankets & Wine in Kenya. They are platforms where new artists can showcase their talents.
Ayrosh is a Folk and Fusion singer and songwriter. His genre is Afro-fusion, where he fuses old classics with popular genres.
He is best known for his futuristic approach to Mugithi, a Gikuyu genre derived from Benga. He sings primarily in his vernacular language- Gikuyu in addition to English and Swahili.
He is known for his eclectic live performances. He usually performs at the famous Nairobi Folk Fusion festival.
Tetu Shani describes his sound as a blend of indie rock, Afro-pop, and Kenya’s folkloric rhythms.
He is known for his dynamic range and storytelling skills in his music. Tetu’s Watch Out featured in popular Netflix Blood and Water.
Nadia Mukami is a rising superstar on the Kenyan music scene. She is a prolific songwriter who sings mostly Afropop.
You’ll love her for her fluent Swahili lyricism, mellow voice, and soothing melodies.
Nyashinski is a Kenyan rapper who burst into the limelight as part of a hip-hop group called Kleptomaniax. He later launched his solo career in 2010.
He is a brilliant vocalist and songwriter who writes street and uplifting music.
Singer Otile Brown is the first Kenyan artiste to surpass the 1 million subscribers on Youtube. It’s easy to see why. He is a talented RnB singer with a large following.
As a native of Mombasa, the coastal city of Kenya, his sound has heavy coastal music influences. Such Kinda Love is one of his popular singles.
Fena Gitu is a singer, rapper, songwriter, and producer. She is one of the most popular female rappers in Kenya right now.
She is also famous for her lyrical prowess and incredible energy, and soulful vibes during live performances.
Gospel music is trendy in Kenya, and one of the notable artists in this genre Mercy Masika. She dominates the airwaves of gospel music for a good reason.
She is known for beautifully crafted music compositions. She sings primarily in Swahili, but her meticulous voice will have you hooked.
Gengetone is a Kenyan genre that evolved from genge, the Kenyan hip-hop sub-genre. Sailors is a band known for their gengetone tunes. They usually rap or sing in Swahili slang called sheng.
They blend rap with reggaeton and dancehall infusions. Often the result is a high-energy and dance-ready sound. Their music is popular with younger generations in Kenya.
Those are just a few artists you should consider checking out. There are hundreds more. The best part of the Kenyan music scene is there is something for everyone. So, whatever your musical inclinations are, I promise you you’ll find something to like.