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Country Kenya Genres hiphop urban Festival Sauti za Busara 2006
Kilio Cha Haki (A Cry for Justice) was recorded in 2004 and has already achieved the status of African hiphop classic. The album was produced in a month in a temporary makeshift studio in a flat in the slums by 37 Kenyan rappers from the Eastlands ghettos of Nairobi with Dutch and American support. In a major collaborative effort these Kenyan hiphop artists joined forces with producers from Amsterdam's Rednose Distrikt to create a project with positive messages and head-nod kicks that call to mind acts like Saian Supa Crew, Arrested Development, A Tribe Called Quest and The Pharcyde.
"Kilio cha Haki" is a fusion of different styles, cultures and backgrounds, but most of all it is an expression of the plight and struggle of the youth in the ghettos and slums of Nairobi. It presents not only Kenyans but people the world over, with the opportunity to reflect on the political corruption, criminality, poverty, AIDS and other scourges affecting urban youth.
With the help and support of the NCDO (Netherlands Commission for International Cooperation and Sustainable Development) and UpToYouToo, all proceeds from the sale of "Kilio cha Haki" are going towards the creation of a permanent studio in Eastlands. This will help to give young Kenyans a voice and demonstrates how hip hop and music can be an alternative to drugs and crime; a source of income; a means of voicing social and political protest.
"Hip hop is vital/throw your fist in the air worldwide up in here/ represent your sphere/hip hop is global" (from "All over The World")
The project features some of Kenya's greatest rappers, alongside up-and-coming new talent performing in Swahili, Sheng and English. The notoriously dangerous Dandora neighbourhood is represented by Ukooflani Mau Mau, a group of MCs including veteran rappers Kalamashaka and Mashifta. Kalamashaka along with their collective Ukoo Flani Mau Mau Camp represent the real underground hiphop. Every ghetto loves them but the media show them little love because they are so raw.
The hard-hitting lyrics put this album into context. This starts with the plaintively sung intro (in English): "I was born in the street. I was born in the slum, raised in the slum. In the valley of Mathare." As the album continues, the reality of living in Nairobi slums hits hard: here are songs about political corruption, AIDS, gun crime, prejudice, poverty, abortions, rapes and death.
It's a long way from the bling-bling culture or glorification of violence in the majority of the US hip-hop lyrics. The Eastlands MCs impress with their brilliant flow, which would put a lot of US rappers to shame. Musically the album is very varied with stand-out tracks being the jazzy "Fanya Tena", "Sisi" with its beatboxing and the dubby, Lingala-influenced "Pesa Pesa".