I’m excited to feature these amazing artists as the first of this segment for three major reasons; talent, discipline and passion. The three comrades at Bahati Bookings (who we will get to know better after this brief intro) are something like fresh mint and lavender to the music scene here in Nairobi. They offer fresh melodic sounds, funky flows and lyrics to match. Catching the wave at festivals like the futuristic Africa Nouveau Festival, lets get to know them!
So let’s get into it, who is Bahati Bookings?
Bahati Bookings is a melting pot, an independent collective composed of 3 artists: Ekumbo, Baraka and Stéphane. We started out small with the release of our EP ; “East African Winter - a curative piece by Baraka & Ekumbo”, since mid-last year we have been showcasing our musical potential - from melodic key to lyrical storytelling and funky flows. One thing that’s for certain is that we are renovating the Kenyan rap scene with our unique style and music.
How would you describe your sound?
The Bahati Bookings sound is easiest described as transgressive. All 3 artists bring our own style and influence of music. Stephane contributes a fusion of urban french rap, and West African musical influences to bring a melodic, indie style of rap that is new to this generation. Ekumbo bends melodies to his will, something like a Smino meets Monte Booker type of vibe. And, Baraka blends J.Cole story-telling with a Smino-like meets Lil Uzi flow that always leaves fans on replay.
Who came up with the name and what made you join forces?
Baraka came up with the name and the concept.
“Bahati was my mother’s name. She passed away in December 2010, and I was a momma’s boy , so when I started making music I felt like I would want to commemorate her and also kind of have her by my side throughout the journey. It’s funny too because I initially made the email account first, you know for the day I started getting big cheque inquiries lol, and then over time I realized that nobody really cares about the other in the music industry so I began making Bahati Bookings my own management team while secretly studying music business.
Shortly after, I met Ekumbo at a poetry event that was curated by Jaaziyah, a spoken word artist and activist. He and I instantly clicked, realizing that we also shared the same first name, ‘Richard’. He was an unknown producer with dope beats and ideas, I was an unknown rapper with bars nobody knew about. I had bought this Scarlett studio set that I was abusing with my shitty recording knowledge so we set up a session, linked at my old house in Ngara, made one song, then two and just decided to do a whole EP released under Bahati Bookings. During the process of this, I was studying at USIU and became friends with Stéphane and we'd chill at the house a lot. One day he was telling us how much he fucks with our music and it inspired him to start making music. We tried something and it was “Moi Les Femmes” the first song off of our debut EP, East African Winter. The way he combined melodies in French blew us all away and we just kept creating. When the EP was done we realized we had a good thing going and we had no place stopping that. From there on I can safely say that Bahati Bookings was born and we’ve been learning and growing individually and as a group throughout our musical journey” - Baraka
How has your journey been so far in terms of finding your sound and in terms of being artists here in Nairobi?
The journey so far has been very educative. Nairobi is really such a progressive scene and it’s very easy to connect with the majority of artists and listeners once you’re making good music. We were lucky enough to have bonded and worked with some amazing people like Jason Kalinga, Kerby and Joseph Kiwango who have taught us many unspoken lessons in the way they carry themselves and their music.
As far as finding our sound, we each consider ourselves to have had influences from the hip hop, jazz and soul spectrums of music with a dash of electronic sound designs and culture. Along our musical journey we have had the opportunity of working with some of the greatest up and coming artists from our generation which has definitely had some influence on how our sound has been shaped so far. From learning stage presence to different recording techniques, and just being around people who have a passion for sound quality has had a large impact on how we choose to carry ourselves musically. We also learn from each other daily - Baraka and Ekumbo can pick up some french from Stéphane; Stéphane can pick up some melodic twists from Ekumbo; and Ekumbo can pick up certain lyrical arrangements from Baraka .
What are your favourite personal songs that have come from each other or the group?
“Holy Water” by Ekumbo and Baraka
I’ve noticed that making music for you guys comes naturally, almost too naturally. What’s your process?
Each artist has their own process. Ekumbo rarely writes, he usually likes to record spontaneously, Baraka likes to go off the mood/emotion that the beat brings. He writes down his lyrics when story-telling and records off the top when having fun. Stéphane prefers writing his lyrics and building a structure for the song.
What is the future of Bahati Bookings as a collective?
The future is all about getting bigger and better. Bigger shows, better music, bigger platforms and better recognition for our city.
Do you have any dream collaborations, or shows you would like to perform at?
Dream collab: Smino, Travis Scott, Summer Walker, Nasty C, Hamza, Diamond, Karun
Dream show: Coachella, Dreamville Fest, Wasafi Fest, Rolling Loud Fest, Pawa Fest, Kilifi Fest, Nyege Nyege Festival, among others.
Your favourite collaborations?
Favourite released collab would have to be “Child’s Play” ft Kerby & Jason Kalinga. And favourite unreleased collabs are two songs: “Mademoiselle” ft Kiwango off of Stéphane’s new EP, Flanta; and “None Like Mines” ft Kiwango & Ekumbo an up and coming single from Baraka
Other than FLANTA, Stephane’s upcoming project, what other projects should we be looking forward to?
State of Survival (S.O.S) by Baraka and Ekumbo, Pretty Ugly Boi (PUB) by Ekumbo, and Diplomatic Immunity by Baraka