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February 21, 2019

Kenyans can invent riddims of their own

Almost all of us are baffled and perplexed at the rate in which technology has developed and wonder how we survived in the past, given we were not advanced as we are now.

The advent of the new media has made our lives much easier, and we believe all operations would collapse if there were no mobile phones, internet and so on. It is funny that years back we thought we had it all.

In the 1990s, for instance, a young American hip-hop duo called Kris Kross hit the airwaves much to the joy of teenagers but to the chagrin of parents.

The artists were clad in oversize jeans to go with stylish sneakers, and teenagers, then, took to the new craze to idolise the music celebrities.

Back then, anyone aged more than 25 found this fashion unbecoming, even though less than a decade ago they were happy to clad skinny trousers and moccasins, which was King of Pop Michael Jackson’s and Ray Parker Jr’s trademark.

Interestingly, applying lots of Hair Glo gel on one’s hair (which gave it a slimy feel) was fashionable.

Fast-forward to 2014, and today we have must-have fashion trends, which apparently are modified styles of the 90s. Instead of plain skinny jeans, now we have coloured ones with flowered prints. Stylish Supra, which come in a variety of colours replaced the high-end sneakers.

It’s not just our fashion sense that has changed, almost all aspects of our lives have gone through a transformation. The music industry is a major source of influence, and, it too, has been forced to take up new trends to satisfy new emerging needs among various demographics.

Artists no longer look down on the older generation, and are doing their best to reach out to them. With the high-tech equipment, it is much easier to reach target audience and musicians cannot afford to ignore anyone.

Some years back, artists worked so hard to perfect their musical skills and spent days rehearsing before taking to the stage to entertain their audience. Stage performances presented another learning opportunities. Having perfected their work on stage, they were now ready to record in a studio for the song to appear on a vinyl.

With the technology making music production a walk in the park, an artist can cook up a song in their bedroom, record it on his or her mobile phone, upload it in the YouTube, and within no time it becomes number one hit in many countries! A notable change is riddim (rhythm), whose origin is Jamaica.

A riddim is the instrumental accompaniment to a song. A dancehall song comprises the riddim and the vocals sung by the deejay. Today, music super-stars have a rendition of their own. 
With Kenya embracing Jamaican beats in almost all genres of music, it is time our musicians came up with riddims of their own. Well, Jamaicans have names like Nanny Goat and Real Rock, but we Kenyans need something more indigenous. Here are some suggestions:


1. The Migori riddim

This riddim is set to be a big hit as it will include boos and hisses throughout the song. Boos will be looping over and over at the end of the song. Background vocals will be singers chanting slogans such as “ODM!”, “No Mosquito Nets!” and “Uhuru Must Go!” The song will be played when leaders are visiting a music club, be they Presidents, Cabinet Secretaries and even class prefects of local public primary schools. This is a sure way to win over hearts.


2. The homecoming riddim

This riddim will involve clapping of hands from the background. It will record loud cheers of children, which is typical in celebrations attended by Kenyans of high status. Background vocals will also have words like Karibu! CS Wetu! Senator Wetu! Governor Wetu! MP Wetu! and MCA Wetu.

If the occasion is for celebrating newly initiated youths, expect Initiate Wetu chants. Headmaster Wetu and sacco chairman wetu will be the new chants for celebrating those elevated to leadership.


3. The traffic riddim

You guessed that right – this riddim will involve blaring horns, screeching brakes and the occasional car crash. This music will be accompanied by chants in the background like Beba, Umoja Innercore hamsini (Sh50 fare to Umoja), Kwenda Huko Wewe (Go away) and Wacha Wagongane Wajuane (A collision will teach them a lesson)


4. The blind date riddim

This riddim will involve sounds of slaps landing on someone’s cheeks being played over and over. In the mix, will also be clinking of glasses as most Kenyans prefer going for dates in a bar to a restaurant. Lyrics will include chants such as: ‘Women are equal with men, so you pay the bill, madam’, ‘My place or yours?’ ‘Yours of course’ and ‘Stay away from me you creep, pyscho or stalker’. Expect the song to be played in hotels with an air of ambience, and dingy bars in Downtown Nairobi where beer costs Sh120.


"Venue review: Weston hotel, Lang'ata Road


I am in a chama with a group of friends and we meet once a month to assess the progress our investments. We prefer to hold our meetings in different venues to avoid monotony. A few weeks ago, we went for a drink at the new Weston Hotel on Lang'ata Road. Before visiting the place, touted as classy, I established a Kenyan VIP owns it. On the day I went to the complex, I noticed some lights at the entrance, which signal a motorist when to go in and out. Impressive!

The hotel has a large lobby. I headed straight to the bar to the left of the entrance. It is spacious, and opposite the entrance was a beautiful counter hugging the wall.

I joined my fellow chama members seated outside at the balcony and we got on to our tête-à-tête as we waited for a waiter to take our order. My cold Tusker was retailing Sh350, which left me dazed. This is not high a price considering it is a high-end hotel. I have been to some '5-Star' hotels, where a bottle of beer costs Sh450. It was therefore fairly priced.

There were a few TV screens for sports fans, who would like to catch some sports on a weekend. As we were going about our business, I saw an MP holding a series of meeting, and shortly thereafter I saw Deputy President climb out of a high-end vehicle parked outside.

I could tell wealthy people visit the place, as the majority of vehicles in the parking lot were Toyota Prado four-by-four. Clearly, the hotel is classy for it to host government meetings.

Although the service was good, the waiter annoyed me when he poured my beer in my glass. This habit is typical of bars in Downtown Nairobi, and should not be there in a five-star hotel. I like drinking at my pace.

The bar has clean washrooms, world class décor, is in a safe location, hosts punters of high-calibre and has emergency exits. I recommend the place to anyone who wants an optimal combination of class and value.

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