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Gidi Gidi reveals the secret to Kenyan music crossing over internationally

By Wangu Kanuri October 15th, 2022 2 min read

Kenyan hip-hop legend and radio host Gidi Gidi has given his take on Kenyan music and what musicians need to do to venture onto the international scene.

His sentiments come at a time when netizens are debating on why urban Kenyan music has not crossed over from local to continental, or gotten global appeal just like Nigeria or South African stars.

Gidi Gidi said that if Kenyan music is to break out from its local cage artists need to modernise the traditional Kenyan beats.

“The urban Kenyan artist who will ever break it to the continental and world scene is one who will modernise Isukuti beat, Ohangla beat or any other traditional Kenyan beat,” he said.

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The renowned media personality shared, “Make isukuti your amapiano and conquer the world, have you seen how Vaida is danceable? Make Ohangla your amapiano, have you seen how Paroga Nyasuba? Chwade gi nyundo? Isanda gi hera etc are big hits locally?”


#vaida #vaidaa #omwanainyanya #omwanaindumbu #luhya #lyrics #azziad Short Version

♬ Original Sound – Unknown

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Saying that the traditional African music revolved around dance and rhythm, Gidi Gidi born Joseph Ogidi explained that it is the reason why benga, soukous, and rhumba are big hits including amapiano which is basically improved house music.

“If you study Kenyan Urban music hits in the last 30 years the beats revolve around Caribbean Calypso beat that was famously baptised by Bamboo as Kapuka.

Radio host and hiphop legend Gidi Gidi
Radio host and hiphop legend Gidi Gidi

That ragamuffin beat is originally an African beat exported by African slaves. Afrobeat as currently called is just a recantation of our traditional rhythmic beats.”

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Advising young aspiring artists seeking to venture into the music industry, Gidi Gidi said, “Instead of competing or copying Amapiano or Nigerian beats, just go back to the roots and modernise Vaida isukuti, Ohangla, orutu or Mugithi and you will conquer the world.”

Sharing that in 2002 he attended an African music strategic meeting and one of the music label’s CEO said that the future of African music is urban Afrobeats and that MTV was coming to Africa hence we (musicians) needed to align with that for a brighter future.

Gidi Gidi disclosed that at that time no one ever thought MTV would play African music.

“He was right, it came and years later Afrobeat is taking over the world. Kenya is rich in authentic content, we just need to pick from our traditional beats and conquer the world.”.

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