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Kenya’s appetite for Old Skul music soars on Spotify

A key trend emerging in the Kenyan music industry in 2023 is that older artists are making a comeback this year.

This is according to the latest data from the Swedish digital music platform Spotify.

According to Spotify, this nostalgia was evident in the build-up to the chaotic American Boyz II Men concert that took place at Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi last Saturday.

With the buzz and hype that came with the announcement that the legendary band had been chosen to headline the near-full but disappointing Stanbic Yetu Festival, Spotify noticed a spike in streams of the Boyz II Men catalogue last month. The band ruled the RnB airwaves in the early 90s.

In addition to the spike in Boyz II Men streams, Spotify has also noticed a spike in streams of old Skull artists by tracking artists who first released music before 1990.

Also read: List of top 10 Kenyan streamed artistes of 2022 on Spotify

“Nostalgia is such a powerful force and to see Kenyans connecting with music and artists from around the world is an illustration of how music acts as a gateway to revisiting memories and different times in our lives. I was also pleased to see Kenyans streaming music legends from across the continent,” said Monica Kemoli- Savanne, Spotify’s Artist and Label Partnerships Manager for East Africa, during a creative hangout.

According to the data, the most streamed artists bringing back the nostalgia vibe last month were late South African legend Lucky Dube, King of Pop Michael Jackson, and legendary Lingala maestro Koffi Olomide.

Topping the list of artists who saw the biggest increase in their streams last month and who first released music before 1990 was the late Tina Turner, who saw a 454% increase in streams following her death in May this year.

Legendary Kenyan musician John Nzenze, known for his Angelike Twist banger that dominated the airwaves in the 70s, saw a 139% increase in music streams last month.

Ivorian singer Alpha Blondy, who has performed in the country twice and is known for his reggae hit Jerusalem, also saw a 128% increase in streams of his music over the same period.

Spotify says the use and analysis of data help to track local support for artists, as well as identify key trends that can affect artists’ growth.

Also read: Afrobeat magic dominates Spotify’s top 10