kenyan house music

Jack Rooster Revives Kenyan House Music With “Nyumba” Album

 

“In the beginning there was Jack, and Jack had a groove. Jack boldly declared - Let there be house - and house music was born.” There goes the famous Genesis story of house music. But who is Jack?

You probably saw his young face in Supasta by Boneless featuring Inami. This first Kenyan house music anthem was produced by Saint Evo, mastered by Eric Musyoka, directed by Mbithi Masya and executive produced by him in 2013. 

 
 

Since then, Jack Rooster has evolved into many things. 

The Kenyan Afro-house DJ has been playing exciting shows all over Africa since 2010. From Lake of Stars in  Malawi, Beachlife NYE Diani, Kilifi New Year, Jameson Connects, Earthdance Nairobi, Deeper Sounds of Nairobi Live to Madorasindahouse EA tour in Nairobi and Kigali. 

Nowadays, you will find him playing at Ankole Grill on Wednesday nights. Or at his monthly residency “Afrosocial” at Alchemist Bar featuring Afro-house DJs such as Suraj, Saint Evo and DJ Vidza.

When he’s not deejaying at a house music party, he’s busy geeking out on computers or hosting his weekly radio show Caffe Mocha on Homeboyz Radio. For the past 8 years, he has been taking his avid listeners through sonic flights of African house music across the continent. Jack Rooster religiously uploads his Sunday Afro-house mixes on Mixcloud.

 and most recently Spotify. 

He’s also the curator the top-charting iTunes podcast Deeper Sounds of Nairobi (DSoN).

According to Jack, production is the future for deejays. And 7 years since he started experimenting, Jack finally put out his debut producer album in June 2019. This is after being mentored by Decimal Records owner Eric Musyoka who also mixed and mastered his album. 

Nyumba - meaning house in many Bantu languages including Swahili and Gikuyu - is the name. 

Basically, welcome to Jack Rooster’s house.

Inside Nyumba you are ushered in by a popular Gikuyu folk song you have probably heard before. It gives way to the famous “My House” 1987 by Chuck Roberts where he got his name Jack. As for his second name, he simply admires roosters.

“My name is Rooster, Mundu wa Nyumba” he chants as the intro fades.

The 11-track album also features the fresh young talents of Kenyan musicians including Terrianne Iraki, Nuru and Kevin Grands. Decimal Records labelmates Brian Nadra, Bon’Eye, Khuhani and Konkodi also had to jump into this house party. 

Every song carries a different vibe and feel. They sing about complicated relationships in All In, Complicated and Castles on top of groovy house beats. Songs to send you to the dancefloor include the aptly-named Afrika Disco and South-African inspired Wamlambez. 

The first album single has also inspired other Kenyan song versions.

 
 

There is some cheesy dialogue at the beginning of Sports Car. But the Kenyan house track is rescued by Brian Nadra’s sexy confident voice and African guitar riffs. It makes you feel like you own a sexy sports car - or several. 

Get ready to be empowered inside this house. Siiangali Nyuma introduces the talented Nuru on vocals. Its beautiful instrumentation and simple Swahili lyrics deliver a distinct Kenyan flavour on your tongue.

Everybody needs a tagline. And Jack Rooster’s is “see you on the dancefloor”. And he definitely saw his fans at the Alchemist during his Nyumba album launch on June 15th. Other than the overwhelming Nairobi crowd, he was supported by the Decimators as they performed the album live for the first time. 

Physical copies were also available for sale - because who doesn’t want to have an autographed CD of one of the first Kenyan house albums. You can still get a copy at WLL Comic Store at The Alchemist. On the colourful album artwork, Jack is flanked by two gorgeous women - Sonia Pinto and a pregnant Chacheeta - all in royal African outfits. The body art on their skins is by the talented Ah_this and illustrations by Ed Wainaina. 

 
 

Remember this was only a day after fellow rastaman Ayrosh launched his Afro-house debut EP at Michael Joseph Centre. That June weekend marked a rebirth of Kenyan house music. A fusion of Kenyan sounds and young talent with international house grooves to represent a vibrant Kenya to the world. 

The only Kenyan house album released before that was Jeru by Saint Evo back in 2016 featuring a plethora of African artists. 

According to House Movement, house music is meant to unify people of Africa through sound. And Jack Rooster makes sure to shout out Afro-house DJs, producers, fans and everyone supporting the pan-African movement. Real name Earnest Wambari, he has been a house music evangelist for the past 9 years. And Nyumba is a culmination of his spiritual journey with music.

Just like the beginning, the final song is nostalgic. If you were alive in the 80s, you probably remember the 1988 classic Dereva Chunga Maisha by Sam Muthee https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2CpYfYDwoI . Jack Rooster steps out of the norm in Dereva to remind African drivers to be careful on the road using catchy Swahili and Gikuyu phrases. These are basic road safety tips that should be all over our social media and media stations.

In proper fashion, Jack put it in a house song.

House is a feeling, an uncontrollable desire to jack our body. This is our house and our house music. In this house the keeper is Jack. And the Kenyan Afro-house DJ gives you permission to jack your body with Nyumba.

Listen to Nyumba on Boomplay.