Diamond remains Kenya’s biggest artist

Kenyan musician Kevin Kioko, better known as Bahati, is challenging his fellow musicians to work together in order to beat out the competition Kenyan music faces from Tanzania and Nigeria.

Sharing a number of pictures of Kenyan charts dominated by Bongo artists, Bahati said that unless Kenyan musicians find a way to work together, they will keep “curtain-raising” for their neighbours.

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“This is the time for Kenyan musicians to stop thinking you can make it alone and simply come together… no solo Kenyan artist can take our sound global on their own that’s a fact. We need to work together as a team or else we will keep curtain-raising for our neighbours… look at what they’re doing, they’re coming together and through their unity, they’re taking over home & away!” Bahati said.

True to form, Tanzanian crooner Diamond Platnumz remains Kenya’s top musician despite not being from Kenya. 

By June 2020, Diamond had amassed what Kevin Meenan of YouTube Music Trends described as a  “mind-blowing” 3.6 million subscribers and 980 million views on his channel with about 80 per cent of the views, most of which were Kenyan, coming from outside Tanzania. As such, he has become the undisputable face of East African music to the outside world. 

The same remains true as of Monday, July 24, as Diamond’s new song “Enjoy” featuring Jux remains Kenya’s most-watched YouTube video, ten days after its release.

Bahati further added that while Kenya remained a shining beacon for the East African bloc in other areas, music was not one of them.

“We agree Kenya is the heart & home of African entertainment, Kenya has the best musicians, Kenya is the leader of our region from politics to marathon and economy….. fellow musicians let’s come together if we want to gain back our leadership & respect in African music. If we come together our fans will come together and support us,” Bahati said.

His sentiments come months after Nigerian star Ayra Starr brought Nairobi to a stand-still at the first edition of the Shoke Shoke festival in January. The second edition, rescheduled to September, is set to be headlined by fellow Nigerian artist Ruger.

Elsewhere, earlier this month, the world’s largest streaming giant Spotify created a site to track the rise and global domination of Afrobeats, a sound specifically tied to West Africa. According to the site, Afrobeats was streamed 13 Billion times in 2022, with artists such as Burna Boy, Wizkid and Rema dominating charts abroad as well as selling out shows in the UK and the US.

According to research by Spotify, Afrobeats’ ability to fuse with other sounds is likely a contributing factor in its exponential rise.

“Afrobeats’ ability to fuse and blend with other genres is likely down to the fact that it’s wrapped up in its DNA. 90% of Afrobeats fans agree that fusing Afrobeats with other sounds has been helpful in its growth,” the report said.

However, it is not all doom and gloom for the Kenyan sound. Earlier this month, the Grammy Awards listed Gengetone as a category for its 66th award ceremony alongside Afrobeats, Afro-fusion, Afro Pop, Afrobeats, Alte, Amapiano, Bongo Flava, Kizomba, Chimurenga, High Life, Fuji, Kwassa, Ndombolo, Mapouka, Ghanaian Drill, Afro-House, South African Hip-Hop, and Ethio Jazz genres.

Additionally, several Kenyan musicians have been recognised by international awarding bodies including Sauti Sol and Bensoul who were all awarded Grammy certificates for their work on Burna Boy’s Grammy award-winning album “Twice As Tall” and Khaligraph Jones who was nominated for a BET award for Best Rapper in Africa. 

“My Desire is to see us get what we deserve- being at the top,” Bahati finished.

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