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Solo vs Collabo: Why stars are born when groups split

Now more than ever we see music and comedy groups and bands split only for one lone star to be born from the fall. 

We’ve witnessed countless groups and duos captivating audiences with their harmonies and comedic chemistry, however, time and again, these collaborations reach an impasse, leading to heart-wrenching splits. It seems as though the universe conspires to launch one member into solo stardom while the others fade into obscurity. 

The ever-elusive question, however, is why does one succeed more when they make a choice to go solo than when they were in a group? 

The group Kleptomaniax (from left) Nyashinki, Robba and Collo perform during Westgate live show on June 25, 2016. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Being in a group has over the years proven to build a rather impressive fan base as every fan has their favorite part of a particular band, but alas, the group is only sitting ducks up until something happens to break the members apart. What is it about being in a group that holds one back from realizing the best of their potential? Is it a curse that being in a group just means there’s an impending end? 

As we’ll see in this article, being part of a group can have both advantages and disadvantages, and while collaborative efforts can lead to unique creative synergy, shared success, and an enhanced support system, the dynamics within a group can sometimes hinder individual expression, artistic growth, and personal aspirations. 

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The Kenyan entertainment scene has witnessed several popular groups that eventually split, resulting in individual members finding success on their own. In this article, we will explore the detriment of being in a group and highlight some prominent Kenyan groups that disbanded, along with the members who went on to achieve remarkable solo careers.

Being part of a musical or creative group requires compromise, coordination, and collective decision-making. However, it can also lead to limitations in artistic expression, conflicts of interest, and stifled individual growth. The need to maintain group harmony and cater to diverse opinions can sometimes dilute the unique creative vision of individual members. Furthermore, financial and contractual disagreements, differing work ethics, and personal conflicts can arise, causing rifts within the group that eventually result in disbandment.

Sauti Sol members take a selfie during the unveiling of the band as the official brand ambassadors for Infinix Kenya on June 2, 2021 at Social House. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

For instance, Sauti Sol, which is a renowned Kenyan afro-pop group, comprised of Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano, Savara Mudigi, and Polycarp Otieno. Known for their soulful harmonies and captivating performances, Sauti Sol rose to international acclaim with songs like Sura Yako, Melanin, and Extravaganza.

Although the group remains active, each member has also pursued solo ventures, but the group vocalist Bien-Aimé has proven to be the North Star of the famous boy band. The singer released his solo project titled Dance Inside in 2020, showcasing his ability to craft meaningful music beyond the confines of the group, and went on to release bangers like Mbwe Mbwe and Bald Men Anthem.

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One other notable example is the former group Kleptomaniax, which comprised three talented artistes: Nyashinski, Roba, and Collo. The trio enjoyed massive success in the early 2000s with hits like Haree, Swing Swing and Tuendelee. However, creative differences and the desire to pursue solo careers led to their split in 2004. 

Following the breakup, Nyashinski embarked on a solo journey, eventually becoming one of Kenya’s most successful and influential musicians, while Roba and Collo also pursued solo endeavors with moderate success in comparison.  Nyashinski rose to unprecedented heights as a solo artiste, and his captivating lyrics, distinct voice, and exceptional stage presence endeared him to a broad audience, resulting in chart-topping hits such as Mungu Pekee and Now You Know

Members of Camp Mulla band perform at the Niko na Safaricom Live concert at Carnivore grounds in Nairobi on November 9, 2012. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Another prominent group that experienced a split was Camp Mulla, known for their fusion of hip-hop, RnB, and electronic sounds. The group members, Shappaman, Taio Tripper, Kus Ma, and Miss Karun captivated Kenyan audiences with hits like Party Don’t Stop and Fresh All Day

Internal conflicts, including varying musical aspirations and personal commitments, led to the disbandment of Camp Mulla in 2013. However, the group’s dissolution provided opportunities for individual members to explore their solo talents. Miss Karun, in particular, went on to establish a successful solo career as a singer and songwriter, collaborating with renowned artists and gaining international recognition.

Miss Karun performs on stage during the Code Henny Party at Lava Latte, Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO
Miss Karun performs on stage during the Code Henny Party at Lava Latte, Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO

Miss Karun, after leaving Camp Mulla, crafted a unique artistic path for herself, demonstrating her versatility as a solo artiste, and collaborating with international acts like Sho Madjozi and Sauti Sol. 

While being part of a group in music and content creation can foster collaboration and shared success, it is important to acknowledge the potential detriments to one’s personal brand. However, it is worth noting that successful solo careers are not an indication of failure on the group front, but rather a testament to the individual’s resilience, talent, and ability to navigate the ever-evolving music industry.

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