It's been a week since Kenyan producer, photographer, filmmaker and member of DJ/producer collective East African Wave, Ukweli, released some new music and I'm nowhere near being over it. 'How Long' feat. Kiwango and 'Roses' feat. Karun are two soul-touching songs that are guaranteed to have you in your feels.
I first came across Ukweli's music after stumbling upon an OkayAfrica feature on 'Get Lost', a song he produced for JABS, and which featured Willow Smith. His music was my first introduction to the NuNairobi music scene, and I've been hooked ever since.
The producer teamed up with Tanzanian rapper & poet Kiwango on 'How Long', a song about the pain of unrequited love. Kiwango repeatedly pines, "How long will it take you?/I'm patiently waiting/But my heart is aching/Just talk to me baby." His impassioned vocals drift over a recurring acoustic guitar sequence underlaid by drums and percussion.
72 hours later, he released 'Roses' feat. Karun. This sultry R&B love song stars Karun's enchanting, soulful vocals laid over a minimalistically produced, percussion heavy track. Roses details a dreamy romance as the songstress croons, "You speak my language babe you see me, see me/ Better than anyone has ever seen, ever seen/You took your time babe where have you been, have you been/I never knew love like that, like that"
Both Kiwango and Karun are members of Cosmic Homies, a music and art collective based out of Nairobi.
Soulful vocals, heart-felt lyrics and great production aside, what I love most about both songs is that they exemplify the spirit of collaboration that is at the heart of the NuNairobi music scene. Both EA Wave and Cosmic Homies are pioneers of NuNairobi, a movement comprising of the new era of Kenyan musicians, producers, DJs, and vocalists who are challenging the stereotypical world view of African music by creating music that fuses traditional African influences with urban and electronic genres.
Are these the signs of a possible full-length project coming soon? I honestly couldn’t tell you but I, for one, will be eagerly awaiting more releases.