“Wengi hujifanya mambo yao yako sawa, lakini utashangaa ni mengi haya ya dunia”
Those are the truth-hitting words of one Hulda Serro in her first music release of 2019. And her third single after the 2016 reggae tune Rongai - which is about seeing a wrong guy. And who can forget the 2018 soulful ballad where she sings to her lover Okello, mostly in her native language Luo?
It's no secret that this Afro-fusion musician is one of the best live performers in Kenya.
She always dazzles the crowd with her undeniable charisma, humour and energy on stage. You would bear witness if you have attended any of her live shows including Cake Art Affair 2019 or her intimate event Uani by Serro.
This African queen is blessed with a rich voice and raw authenticity. Like Okello, her new single Ya Dunia was produced by Mutoriah of Me N My Cousin Ent. (Rongai was produced by the man with the fancy fingers, Polycarp Otieno). And the talented Kenyan videographer KG Brian came through with his slow-moving crystal shots.
Note that this is the same video director and music producer for Bensoul's 2019 hit singles Lucy and Favorite Song.
Could she be the female equivalent of the East African rising star?
Ya Dunia is more than a nice sounding song. Serro passes her conscious message using Swanglish lyrics (a mix of Swahili and English) and the mid-tempo track has a coastal flavour that is more prominent in the live version. Both the music video and audio tell a story that is not only relatable but also emotional.
The high-quality music video begins with a distressed Serro at home as she writes down something on a book, probably song lyrics. She then proceeds to eat her humble githeri and ripe avocado. This is despite the fact that she has appeared on various mainstream TV shows and newspapers - like the Daily Nation story about how she has no plan B, plastered on the wall.
She later steps out in an extravagant Ankara dress - as is her style - while clutching her beautiful black guitar.
Unfortunately, she has no fare to reach her destination which is a gig location. This forces her to ask for a lift from a good Samaritan - who fortunately does not recognize her. She eventually arrives at her workplace for the day and the one who receives her at the hotel cannot tell what she’s been through. After all, she’s looking the part.
This third single off her upcoming debut album KUWE is a special one. It reveals the untold story of Kenyan musicians and how social media hype doesn’t always translate to monetary success in real life. It’s the life of a struggling artist and Serro uses herself as an example.
After it was released on 30th April 2019, Ya Dunia got an immediate reaction from fellow Kenyan musicians. Many thanked her for sharing their story and some opened up about their own financial struggles on the comment section. Just because we see them all over local magazines and social media in fancy outfits doesn’t mean mambo yao yako sawa.
This eye-opening Kenyan song makes us realize that musicians are just like us. They get broke sometimes and are not always as happy as they seem on Instagram. It also makes us look into ourselves and examine how we portray our lives on social media.
Is it worth smiling on the outside while crying on the inside or being as honest and vulnerable as Serro?
As the Kenyan songstress sings in the mellow bridge decorated with soft percussion, not everything that glitters (on Instagram) is gold. So be kind to everyone since you rarely see their reality behind the choreographed smiles. We're all going through similar struggles after all.
When you become real in your art, you become even more relatable to your fans. Trap by Kerby is a fine example. With this highly personal song, Serro embodied the courage of her African role models Miriam Makeba and Yemi Alade. She ultimately accomplished the role of an artist, that is to be a mirror to society - msanii ni kioo cha jamii.
You can follow Serro Music on Instagram. To hear more authentic stories like this from the soulful Afro-fusion queen. You also want to watch her live and music videos on YouTube; they might just convince you to experience one of the best Kenyan music performers live. And remind you ni mengi haya ya dunia.