For the umpteenth time, the perennial debate about what ails the local music industry has reared it’s ugly head.
As we have come to expect, the debate has been characterised by blame games, with rapper Khaligraph Jones leading an onslaught of local music acts in pointing fingers at Kenyan media personalities and presenters.
Khaligraph Jones, while in Nigeria for the Soundcity Awards, in which he was nominated for the MVP Best Hip Hop award that was eventually won by South Africa’s AKA, was bullish as he took to the gram to taunt Kenyan presenters.
He wrote: “I am planning on Bringing at least 10 big Kenyan media personalities/Radio presenters to Nigeria for a 10 day trip which I myself shall cater for, I want to see if some of y’all will be recognized by your Nigerian fans or if you even have fans at all here, it would be very sad if you don’t though ?? ?????????????? #respecttheogs.”
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I am planning on Bringing at least 10 big Kenyan media personalities/Radio presenters to Nigeria for a 10 day trip which I myself shall cater for,I want to see if some of y’all will be recognized by your Nigerian fans or if you even have fans at all here, it would be very sad if you don’t though ?? ?????????????? #respecttheogs
Khali’s cause received backing from other local acts such as Naiboi, Vivian, BonEye, Sauti Sol’s Bien Aime, and many others; some of whom also offered to sponsor more presenters to Nigeria.
Naiboi, in particular, wrote: “So after making calls and confirming how serious the OG is about this(trip) I have decided I will pay for 5more so that’s a total of 15. Let’s make it a Real experience for them.#respecttheOG#Naiboiworldwide#usipimemwanaume.”
Based on the comments we sampled from several local artistes, it clear that they are blaming presenters for not giving Kenyan acts enough airplay on radio and television.
But, Jalang’o, arguably one of Kenya’s most prominent media personalities, did not take the mudslinging lying down as he hit back almost immediately.
The Milele FM presenter explained that presenters should not be blamed because they are not in charge of selecting the music that goes on air.
Responding to Khaligraph, Jalas wrote: “Khaligraph_jones is planning a trip for presenters and media personalities to NAIJA to see if they have fans there since we play too much Naija and soon the next trip will be to bongo! Yes, we don’t have fans there but before you start blaming us! Did you know that presenters don’t even choose music played on Radio and if they do they have very little say on what goes on air? No you dint! Before music is scheduled on Radio it is researched on and all we do is play! The other day we were involved in making our playlist, I posted it here asking you to help us and the results were shocking almost! 50% Bongo 40% Naija! Today on Apple Music there are only 6 Kenyan songs in top 100 Kenya! So hata hiyo pia ni ma presenters na djs wamepanga? But the question is how did we get here to NAIJA and BONGO? Marketing! Aggressiveness! And getting out your comfort zone! If you are still depending on Radio and Tv to make you big then you have nothing in this industry! There are too many avenues! YouTube, Spotify, Apple music..then we have social media platforms! Diamond launched his Album in more than 10 countries some of you have not launched even for your family! We can’t play what we don’t know! I personally have hosted and booked you guys for events and paid you guys for shows even if it’s little. I have done my part! The other day @thekingkaka launched his Album they didn’t even show up and the other day saw them begging selfies with Diamond just like they did with Neyo instead of asking for collabo! Khaligraph you know what hard work is and what it took you to be there! Sautisol dint have to depend on us! Hii ni 2019 na mkiendelea hivi mtatukuna saana.”
Jalango did not stop there; He also spared some words for Naiboi.
He wrote: “Ehe…mkisha tulipia? Tufike huko na hatujulikani..ehe? Halafu turudi…ehe? Alafu turudi tuulize wakenya wanataka nini…waseme wanataka Naija na Wasafi…ehe alafu tuwalazimishe na ngoma zenyu donge? Check my page bro..we were making our playlist the other day I posted asking them what they want to listen to…almost 50% Bongo…and 40% Naija 10 % Kenya…they said they want to listen to you yes because you make music they want! It took you to get out of your comfort zone and even rebranding…so badala ya kutingisha meza ya ma presenter watu hata hawaamui nini inachezwa kwa radio aanza kupea wakenya kitu wanataka..ka 2 in 1! Bro did you know presenter have very little say on schedules? Maybe no!”
On the online discussion forums, the opinion was divided, with some fans slating Khaligraph Jones and Naiboi for the misguided attack on presenters.
Once again, the debate boiled down to the quality of Kenyan music which has for a long time been considered inferior to Nigerian, South African, and neighbouring Tanzania.
In truth, Kenyan musical content, or lack thereof, is just one of many reasons why the local industry is still playing catch-up.
For instance, the State has failed to enforce a policy that requires media owners to play 70% local content. In Nigeria, this quota is set at an impressive 80%.
Other additional problems currently facing the Kenyan music industry include lack of professional musicians, musical knowledge, media support, and financial and infrastructural support from the government.
When all is said and done, we can’t ignore that the tide is changing, albeit slowly. The long-haul game of industry catch-up is a process that will take some time.
Blame games do nothing to help this cause!