East African Music - African Radio

Recent Kenyan CD Releases

Kakai Kilonzo & Les Kilimambogo Brothers

Image of CD cover:  Kakai Kilonzo & Les Kilimambogo Brothers
Best of Kakai Volume 1

Shava SHAVACD011-2

During the 1980s, benga music in local languages was still a powerful force in Kenya's music industry. Though sometimes very popular within their local tribal groups, such regional bands were at a distinct disadavantage for appealing to the broader population. The music of Kakai Kilonzo had a sound that was very much "Kamba" music, his ethnic group. Yet, most of his lyrics were in Swahili language, understood by most Kenyans. Clever lyrics and interesting music made Kakai a favorite throughout Kenya. This CD features some of his best loved hits of the 80s, recorded before his passing in 1987. These songs were recorded with 45 rpm singles in mind. In the vinyl editions, side one fades out and side two fades in with part two of the song. In this Shava CD, parts one and two for each song have been combined. The Best of Kakai Volume One is a welcome addition for benga music fans. You'll enjoy songs such as Mama Sofi (audio excerpt), Sera Kamama, Baba Mkwe and Mpenzi Mary and with sound quality that is superior to the original vinyl.

Eric Wainaina

Sawa Sawa CD cover
Sawa Sawa

Available from CDBaby.com

Although based in the US for his music studies, Wainaina is one of the stars of the new generation of younger Kenyan musicians. He brings together an innovative mix of Kenyan pop sounds with Euro/American influences. Sawa Sawa. Contains the hit song Nchi ya Kitu Kidogo (audio excerpt) about corruption and bribery in Kenya, a subject that resonates with every Kenyan. The CD spans a broad range of styles from up-tempo African dance rhythms to ballads and "smooth jazz" sax. And for Swahili speakers, there are comedic interludes from the Kenyan troupe Redykyulass. It's a superb, well-crafted debut CD. In the 2002 Kora All African Music Awards, Eric Wainaina took the Best Artist award in the East African category (sharing the honor with female gospel artist Henrie Mutuku).

GidiGidi MajiMaji

Ismarwa CD cover

Available from CDBaby.com

Ting Badi Malo audio excerpt

This is a great CD of current pop sounds from Nairobi. It's a duo with origins in Luo-speaking Western Kenya, very innovative in merging traditional elements of Luo music with international pop sounds, especially rap. Ting Badi Malo was a smash hit in Kenya a couple years back. (Currently, their song unBwogable is ruling the charts in Kenya).

Sali Oyugi

Vuma! CD cover

Available from CDBaby.com

Ulongole audio excerpt


Sali Oyugi has a wonderful voice and, in this CD, she presents a unique blend of her Kenyan music and cultural background with international pop and jazz. Some tracks have a funky jazz feel while others bring in the delicate sounds of the West Africa kora or African guitar riffs. It's not "African" or "Kenyan" music per se, but rather some very fine music from a Kenyan woman who brings her Kenyan sensibilities and much more to this superbly produced CD.

Various Artists

Music from Kenya Vol 1 CD cover
Music from Kenya Vol. 1
A'mish 1001

Available from CDBaby.com

Tchicho Chatzewe by Zengele audio excerpt

This is a compilation of late 90s music from some of Kenya's well-established bands: Safari Sound Band, Mombasa Roots, and Them Mushrooms (now Uyoga). Add to the mix the polished Congolese soukous group Bilenge Musica, Swahili rumba sounds from Zengele, and a unique coastal

J.P. Muiruri Ndungu and Matata Matamu Stars

Aciari Ni Ngatho CD cover
Aciari Ni Ngatho

Available from CDBaby.com

Aciari Ni Ngatho audio excerpt

JP Muirurui Ndungu comes from Kikuyu-speaking central Kenya. He originally recorded Aciari Ni Ngatho in 1986 while still in secondary school. The songs in this CD were recorded in 1991 and reflect the distinctive sound of Kikuyu benga music. The lyrics cover issues of social and political concern as well as love songs.

Sam Gichuki

Aciari Ni Ngatho CD cover
Mola Awe Nasi

Available from CDBaby.com

Africa Nchi Yangu audio excerpt

Sam Gichuki's Mola Awe Nasi (God Be with Us) is gospel music and social commentary in Swahili language and reggae style.

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

Last updated November 23, 1998.

East African Music - African Radio

Copyright 1998 Douglas B. Paterson, All Rights Reserved.