By Prudence Minayo
The Kenyan music industry is ever evolving with the new crop of artists coming up with beats and dress code that endears them with the younger impressionable generation. The new wave that is becoming very popular, especially among the youth is gengetone. It is said that this genre of music has been around for sometime only that it has been given a new flavour.
Gengetone music in Kenya is mostly a group affair and not a solo act. While some think the music is associated with dirty lyrics, others feel this is a way for Kenyan youths to express themselves. The songs’ lyrics are written mostly in Sheng, a lingua franca that is very popular among Kenyan youth, especially those from the hood.
One group that has been making waves in the gengetone scenes is Mbogi Genje. Like all the other gengetone groups, Mbogi Genje consists of a group of young male Kenyan artists whose music has been well received by fans of this music genre. On 3rd June 2020, they discussed the myths most people have with them, such as associating them with gangsterism which they are not. They are inspired by old school artists such as Vybz Kartel, Mavado and Tommy Lee.
The group is made up of three members who go by the names; Smady (Antony Odhiambo), Guzman (Teddy Ochieng) and Militant (Malaka Yuen). They hail from Umoja, Eastlands, Nairobi. At first, the group was made up of Smady Tingz and Militant who had been rapping from a young age. Later, Guzman joined the equation to form a three-man group.
While breaking through the music scenes in the past was such a hustle, today it’s a bit easy. One still has to work hard and get a huge fan base but now social media platforms and YouTube have made it easier for some artists. The artists have to record their songs then use the power of social media to advertise them.
Mbogi Genje became famous after their first song became a hit. Thanks to YouTube and other social media platforms, their first song Ngumi Mbwegze became a sensation. This song which propelled them to the limelight was a true work of art and gave a different vibe compared to most of today’s songs. The video had no vixens but was rather a raw piece depicting crime and drugs. This song and the others they released after have been well received by many, even parents. This is because unlike most other groups, this particular group is yet to do sexualized songs.
In an interview with Ghetto radio, they revealed that their focus is not on gengetone only. They do other genres, such as dancehall and hip hop. The inspiration of their music comes from their experiences while growing up.
They aspire to see youths come out of poverty and make something out of their lives. Guzman who is a reformed drug peddler further urges the youth to use their talent rather than crime to make money.
“ Everyone has talent so explore what you can do and all will work out eventually. Crime is not an option. Talent is the answer to curb crime,” Guzman shared in an interview on Ghetto Radio.
The group recently had a meeting with Nairobi governor Mike Sonko who gave them a macbook pro, cash and even promised to provide them with an office where they can conduct business.
“We met, told him all of our issues so he gave us some cash and a laptop and promised to help where possible. He even said he will help us set up an office where we can sell our Mbogi Genje merchandise from,” Smady explained.
The group has been made ambassadors against drug abuse by RFH healthcare.
“We are opening a drug and rehabilitation center and we have identified Mbogi Genje as best to work with because of their rapport with the youth,” Dr. Maxwell Okoth said.
The group has a number of hits. All their songs contain hard hitting Sheng lyrics that are so hard to understand, even among some who are familiar with the lingua franca. The songs have been listened to by millions of people and even Octo, izzo called them his best gengetone group. The songs include:
- Ngumi Bwegze
- Kuja mbaya
- Blood war
- Wamocho ft Richy Haniel and Mejja
Mbogi Genje has also featured in Bahati’s song ‘Ndoto.’ They met the singer and recorded the song in September but it was permitted on YouTube on 1st October 2020.
The three-man group shares most of their songs through YouTube. Their channel has garnered over 88,000 subscribers with their song views being millions. Some of their songs have thousands of views while some have exceeded a million views.
While the group is not that old in the game, they seem to be doing well. In fact, were it not for the pandemic, they could have performed in a number of shows this year. According to media reports, the group has moved to a new posh address.