I remember very well when Gengetone had taken over the streets of Nairobi by storm, that is 2018. We are now in 2023 and it seems that Gengetone music lost it in terms of airplay and mainstream media hype. So this means that Gengetone was just a wave that came to pass. But this is not right since there are a bunch of artists that are still doing Gengetone to date.
As a music lover, I used to promote Gengetone as it seemed that Gengetone was here to stay. But all the efforts that I had turned to nightmares since we all lost it. As a genre that was popping out, it needed more nurturing but it was just taken for granted. Three years down the line, there is nothing to prove that Gengetone existed apart from a few who benefited the most.
As I reflect back to the first time I heard about Gengetone, I can imagine the enthusiasm, hard work, passion, and push Kenyan youth portrayed. Discovering yourself as an artist is one of the best things you can do for yourself since it gives you the ability to believe in yourself and become confident. As a young artist, you are willing to learn from others and also want to be the best, so it calls for self-discipline and creativity.
Gengetone Music & Artists
Gengetone brought temporary joy to many and also left many in depression a thing that needs to be addressed. As we all know when you are high on fame, you might be losing yourself and living a life that pleases people and you become a people pleaser. When this happens, you might get lost in fame and start doing things you never did before. You might feel that you are loved but end up lonely. This is the reality.
Money also gives artists some comfort and forgets to invest. Spending your money wisely is not something you might think of at this time and you may think that the shows will continue, you end up abusing drugs and hanging out with the wrong company because of the choices that you make. Actually, it may seem good until when you run broke and come to realize when it’s too late.
If this happens an artist may lose focus and forget about the bigger picture and when an artist loses the bigger picture that becomes the end of their career. Now coming back to the Gengetone scene, most Gengetone artists left music to pursue other things since Gengetone itself just became hectic.
Gengetone Vs other Music genres
Gengetone felt weak and it lost the battle to other music genres in terms of airplay and promotion. Gengetone artists were sidelined by brands, promoters, and other stakeholders and priority was given to other artists. This happened because the message some Gengetone artists sent was not in line with company policies. Some messages were vulgar and glorified sex, crime, and drugs. This went against societal norms.
But of course, Gengetone would still have a voice if it was well promoted internationally and beyond Kenya. But the music had airplay in Kenya alone. Just imagine Afrobeats taking over the world and still competing with something local. The artist themselves were singing local stuff and never targeted the international markets. If they had this greater vision Gengetone will still be cult-like.
As an early observer, I also noted that Gengetone’s ability to go viral was nigh, was it not for the 2020 pandemic. The pandemic brought about another lifestyle that changed people’s perspective about Gengetone. Since some artists did not feel the urge to push, they decided to quit and that was the end of their careers. The majority of Gengetone artists stopped completely and even changed their identity as artists. Some are still pursuing music but not as they would have done if they saw others getting better in their craft.
The competition was also something that drained some Gengetone artists. Some felt that the market was overflooded and forgot that it was an opportunity to stand out as an artist. When blogs and the mainstream media were talking about Gengetone, it was at that time that they should have gotten involved and stolen the attention.
Would Gengetone ever come back?
And once an opportunity is gone, it might be gone forever. But for the case of Gengetone, it has evolved to drill. Many young Kenyan artists who became artists because of Gengetone have now focused on pursuing their music in a different way. In recent years, we have seen upcoming Kenyan drill artists who have now turned to drill music.
Call to Action
If I was an artist at the moment, I would focus more on Kenyan drill music and make a name for myself as an artist. But since I am not a musician myself I usually use the opportunity to promote these upcoming artists and make their voices heard.
All stakeholders are advised to do what they can do to grow and inspire others to be themselves. If an artist is nurtured this means that many will benefit. Music is something that we all love and artists play a major role in our day-to-day activities.
As a Kenyan youth, I feel bad when I see some talent go to waste. We are the future and we need some proper ways to nurture talents. At Kelxfy, we recognize most of the upcoming talents and give them a platform where they can express themselves freely and get the limelight they deserve.
I have documented Gengetone and drill lyrics and continue to do so on this platform. You can find them on this site. Also, I write articles concerning music and you can also find them only on Kelxfy.
Also, read: The Rise and Fall of Gengetone Music in Kenya