There are two big moments in any musician’s career journey. There’s their first live concert in front of an expectant audience. Then comes the release of their first full-length project which took months or even years to create. Both mean the world to an artist, even if it was you. And Ayrosh is about to celebrate one of them.
He is known on these streets as the urban mugithi prince, Folk Fusion guy and his favourite - Mr. Karikiimani. The 27 year-old Kenyan musician hails from Maragua in Central Kenya and like most young Kenyans, he came to Nairobi to study. First, Finance in Kenya University, then he landed a scholarship at the renowned Sauti Academy. The same music school that has churned out Kenya’s greats including Serro and H_art The Band.
After performing a couple of local gigs, he released his first single Wendo in 2016. His repertoire now includes other Kikuyu love songs (Shuga Mami and Commoni) and stories about the village life (Nihaku and Karanja). He proudly sings in his mother tongue fusing Kikuyu folk music with popular genres such as reggae, R&B and pop. He’s revolutionizing mugithi music with a modern swag, one song at a time, and his fans love him for it.
If you live in Nairobi and have not watched Ayrosh live, your event license needs to be withheld until further notice. The Kenyan singer-songwriter is a brilliant performer dripping wit and charm - he can make anyone laugh when he's on stage. He has performed at Kenyan Love Story Festival, Africa Nouveau Festival and most recently Jamhuri Festival 2018.
But his qualifications don’t end there. He also organizes his own event in Nairobi dubbed “Folk Fusion” and hosts the uncensored Jus Kidding podcast with That Guy Chaxy.
As any Afrofusion artist, Ayrosh is inspired by musical storytellers and his latest song shows it. Mwanake Millenial reveals the struggles the boy child faces when paying a hefty bride price, in a humorous way. And the melody was inspired by a mwomboko song by the late Kikuyu music legend Joseph Kamaru - who makes a cameo appearance in the music video.
Quick history lesson: mwomboko is a Kikuyu fox-trot dance and music style from the 1940s played simply by an accordion and metal ring.
This urban folk single was released by Mutoriah, a young talent doing great things in the Kenyan music scene. He is not only a music producer but also a music director, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and now singer. And he’s about to launch his debut project Dive In LP live this June 22nd.
But Mutoriah is a story for another day.
Let’s talk about what’s on the menu today. After tons of urban mugithi songs and live shows, Ayrosh finally announced his debut EP release in conjunction with US-based Kenyan producer Waithaka Ent. The two musicians met on the internet thanks to Kibali Muriithi and have been working together for the past two years, releasing hits like Maheni and Shuga Mami.
But Murasta (Gikuyu for rastaman) is a reflection of who Ayrosh currently is. What you may find surprising is it’s an Afro-house EP where he sings in Gikuyu, English and Swahili. Just like Jack Rooster’s debut producer album with such an apt name - Nyumba. This makes them among the pioneers in Kenya to release full-length house music projects in 2019.
And I mean, who doesn’t love Afro-house?
Murasta is a rebel and a lover. And he features only one artist in his 7 track EP. Kwame is undoubtedly one of his favourite Kenyan musicians and Ayrosh even revealed in a radio interview that he looks up to him. Maybe it’s the way Kwame creates soulful Kikuyu music that sounds modern but is still rooted in his culture.
Their upbeat collaboration was released back in 2017 and is also featured in Kwame’s EP Cama Wendo. Guuku is a funny lighthearted song about a Kikuyu house party complete with pretty ladies, nyama choma and ratish aka muratina brew. With the urban mugithi king and prince in one video, this is just a taste of what Murasta EP sounds like.
So where can you hear the rest of it? Well, at Ayrosh’s EP launch this June 14th at Michael Joseph Centre. And he has invited other talented Kenyan musicians to share the stage with him. I’m talking Jivu Music of the Struggle banger plus the bold and beautiful voice of Ythera who features in Love Respect Repeat by Ayrosh Waithaka, who produced the latter, will be jetting down to Nairobi for the grand concert.
And of course, Kwame Rigii.
Ayrosh surprised his fans when he announced Teardrops will also be performing that Friday night. Basically, expect a lot of punny lines from the Kenyan spoken word poet.
And his favourite band Tha Movement will be backing up Mr Karikiimani up as he performs his crowd favourites.
In an interview Ayrosh did with KenyaVibe, “The Kenyan industry has a wealth of culture and talent that needs the Kenyan people to believe in, in order for it to grow”. This Murasta is all about promoting Kenyan culture and Africaness through his folk fusion music. Good music transcends language and racial barriers, and he is definitely on the playlist.
If you visit his Instagram, you can feel the excitement in the air. Murasta is coming. And what an honour it is for any fan to be part of this big moment in Ayrosh’s career. To take home their complimentary CD copy after the Murasta EP launch event. And to be counted as one of the day ones, even if it is their first Ayrosh concert ever.