East African Music - African Radio

International Pop Sounds from Nairobi


At heart, Hardstone is a rapper in Kikuyu and Jamaican English. He’s one of the new breed of young Kenyan artists (born 1977) pursuing musical interests in international pop. He’s a solo performer (with borrowed crews) but his studio work is done in partnership with Tedd Josiah. Hardstone’s major influences have been from the Caribbean but American R&B and funk are also in the mix. Following the release of Nuting but de Stone, he won the "Best new artist of the year" award at the Third Annual Kisima Awards in April, 1997.

Nuting but de Stone
Kelele Records, Germany

Image of CD cover:  Hardstone
This CD joins Caribbean ragga, American urban sounds, and African lyrics and rhythms in a superbly produced package that isn’t easily labelled as one style or another. By changing the mix of these various elements, the music ranges from ragga to R&B with many stopping points along the way. Not for African pop traditionalists but for everyone else.



File those Magazines as "Hotel/Tourist," and good ones at that. Originally from the Nairobi, the quartet migrated to the coast in 1992 to play in Malindi and Watamu, major tourist destinations in Kenya. Apparently a "street band" for a time, they now perform in hotels and villages at the coast.

CD Muche Marinda
Kelele Records, Germany

Image of CD cover:  Muche Marinda by The Magazines Band
This group could be one of the successors to Them Mushrooms on the coastal tourist circuit. The Magazines are talented musicians playing upbeat music with local flavour but with plenty of international pop influences.


The Mushrooms have sprouted in several forms over their 25+ year history. They started as a reggae band in the early 70s but, without much commercial success, they formulated a pop sound adapting coastal rhythms like chakacha into their music. This served them well in their 10-year stint on the Kenya coast as a hotel band. Since 1987, they’ve been based in Nairobi where they’re frequently heard at places like The Carnivore, Zanze Bar, and Libra House and they’re active in music production with their own Mushrooms Sound Studio. The early 90s found them in some interesting collaborations with other Kenyan artists such as Malika, Jane Nyambura, and Fundi Konde. Since 1993, they’ve returned to their reggae origins.

Them Mushrooms
Rags Music, UK

After the first two songs, "Jambo Bwana" and "Mushroom Soup" (known in Kenya as "Ndogo Ndogo"), the remainder of the CD is the Mushrooms’ remakes of classic Kenyan tunes from the 1950s and 60s. Although quite successful in Kenya among those who grew up with this music, it loses something in the cultural translation between Kenya then and the rest of the world now.

Kazi Ni Kazi
Kelele Records, Germany

Image of CD cover:  Kazi Ni Kazi
The Mushrooms have fully entered the reggae camp in this CD and they certainly sound at home. Most of the material is from the mainstream and several of these songs, especially the title track, Kazi Ni Kazi, are catchy tunes that you’ll find yourself singing. Although many of the songs deal with social and political issues like women’s rights, the value of work, or the problems of Rwanda, the Mushrooms have not totally left behind their identity as a crowd pleasing hotel band. The song Viva Italia praises Italian style with a disco reggae beat while other songs talk of wonderful Dubai, or inviting their "Swiss Lady" to come to Africa.

To contact Douglas Paterson, send email to DPaterson@EastAfricanMusic.com.

Last updated November 11, 2002.

East African Music - African Radio

Copyright © 2002 Douglas B. Paterson, All Rights Reserved.