Exclusive: Jua Cali thrilled after Grammy Awards recognize Kenyan Genge music
Genge sensation Jua Cali is overjoyed after receiving the thrilling news that the Genge genre of Kenyan music will be recognized by the prestigious Grammy Awards in 2024.
In an exclusive interview with Nairobi News, the artiste expressed his elation, reflecting on the long journey that led to this momentous achievement.
“We started this as a dream about 24 years ago. It has taken that long to be actualized and for international recognition to include us in the Grammy Awards. It has been a hustle for Genge to be included, and I am still trying to process this incredible news. It has brought back so many memories,” Jua Cali said.
“There were times when we didn’t have access to microphones, keyboards, or computers, but we still made music,” he recalled.
Genge, which incorporates hip-hop elements through rap while infusing local beats, is a sub-genre of Kenyan hip-hop.
“Genge as a genre has hip-hop elements when we rap, but we localized and made our beats unique to our culture. After Genge, we have Gengetone music, which is what young musicians are currently creating. Gengetone is a sub-genre of Genge and has been heavily influenced by Genge music,” Jua Cali explained.
When asked about the chances of a Gengetone song winning a Grammy award, Jua Cali confidently said:
“In the Grammy Awards, a Gengetone song could certainly triumph. This recognition opens doors for the entire Kenyan music industry.”
Jua Cali also responded to inquiries on the current state of Genge music.
“Kenyans are divided; some celebrate our music while others are quick to put us down. However, when this news broke, I received numerous messages and tweets from people who genuinely love our music, celebrating this milestone with us. There are those who genuinely want others to prosper, and they have been eagerly waiting for a day like this.”
Jua Cali emphasized the importance of local support for Kenyan music.
“If people decide to listen to Kenyan music, they will continue to support it.I released an album about two months ago, and the decision by fans to support local music means a lot. It’s closer to home, and people can even understand the language.”
Jua Cali sees the recognition of Genge music by the Grammy Awards as a win not only for Kenya but also for East Africa. He also expressed his unwavering dedication to the Genge genre.
“I have been adamant about Genge music because I’ve always believed in it. It’s like abandoning your own child. Those who only chase money without true musical passion are not genuine musicians. We need more ambassadors who will support Genge music, and DJs should continue to champion its cause,” he said.
In the early 2000s, Jua Cali dominated the airwaves, with hits like Bidii Yangu, Kiasi as well as the chart-topping Kwa Heri in 2008, where he featured the talented R&B artiste Sanaipei Tande.
Jua Cali is currently celebrating his newly-released Utu Uzima album that took him three years to complete.