It was the musical comeback of the decade. Kalamashaka, the Kenyan Hip Hop gods were about to shake the industry to its core. It had been nearly 15 years since they collectively picked a mic and gave their fans something to talk about.
Their comeback had become something sort of an urban myth, like Dr Dre’s Detox, people have learnt to never expect it yet when a new rumour shows up, we get sucked into the matrix.
The rumour was finally put to rest when word came out that they were in the studio working on something. We were excited but not too much just in case it was another hoax. Then their first single from retirement “Moi Avenue” dropped.
The hip hop heads went crazy, excitement was all over, the myth had been shuttered, they were coming back and we were ready. But Moi Avenue was good, not excellent, nothing we expected from the people who at one point were on the verge of dominating the African music scene.
The people who gave us classics like “Tafsiri Hii”, “Fanya mambo” had given us something forgettable. Moi Avenue contains the voices and wordplay that is quintessentially Kshaka but it’s like our ears are covered with Teflon, it just refuses to stick. They also made the comeback without one member, Kamau Ngigi.
The problem with comebacks by legends is that people expect too much, they expect you to make up for all the years you were away. The Hip Hop heads expected Kalamashaka to make up for the rise of mediocre rappers with their sing alongs and weak punchlines but what they brought back with them with hot. Hot is good but not when people were expecting sizzling.
Jay Z says that if you want his old Sh*t, buy his old albums because he is on that new sh*t. He is always being asked why he can never make a new “Reasonable doubt” or “Blueprint” largely considered to be his all time greatest works.
We expected Tafsiri Hii but we got Moi Avenue and that is to be expected but you can tell the fans are not receiving it well. Almost two months later and the video has a measly 8,000 hits.
Jaguar is probably the “Ole Lenku” of music. He is always being made fun of yet his songs are major club bangers and they notch up crazy hits. His “One Centimeter” video has over 180,000 hits in three months.
Jaguar has a strong base and his fans probably have no idea who Kalamashaka is but while 8K hits are not as bad, in an era where “Nyongwa” is getting 62,000 hits, it is not that good.
You cannot say the media has abandoned Kalamashaka, they have been all over radio and TV but that is mostly where the problem lies. Whenever they come on TV, people are always talking about how different they look and that is largely the conversation.
Life has not exactly been kind to these legends and would really love for them to catch a break and change that but that might not happen if “Moi Avenue” is what we can expect from them.
We are in an era where Juliani is the leader of the hip hop community followed by Rabbit and Octopizzo so Kalamashaka need to understand they have to outdo these kids. The new hip hop kings all looked up to Kalamashaka at some point but they will not stop and allow them to come and take over.
The fans who fawn over Kalamashaka but also be in love with Kalamashaka of 13 years ago and not the current ones. Listen to any interview, people want to know about Tafsiri and Fanya Mambo. Nobody seems to be referencing Moi Avenue.
But they could have been testing the waters with “Moi Avenue”, release something lukewarm to excite the masses and then release something major, something that will rattle your world. I pray that is the case. If not, then Kalamashaka’s gone baby, gone! I hope this is not the “Mwanzo wa Mwisho”.