I often say some words in passing, but I have come to realize that most of these words have a greater permanency than the advice lectures I give with my most serious face. Recently, I was speaking to Musoki Mkenya, and he revealed that I was part of the reason why he never made a career in music.
That’s preposterous! I objected.
So, he mentioned a very brief conversation we had one day long ago.
Let me give you a brief background.
Around the turn of the 21st Century, Radio Taifa KBC was your main radio station, and as such, one of the nation’s club bangers was ‘Wakulimaa, Ongezeeni Kilimooo.’ At least according to me. I later learnt that you could catch Jeff Mwangemi on Yours For The Axin [Where is that bugger by the way, he needs to be brought in for pioneering the xaxa culture] and another one called Sundowner. But how could we, when both the Man Beater’s and The Taliban’s radios were only turned on during news bulletins?
Even ‘Wakulimaa’ we only caught when we could hold out long enough after Edward Kadido or Omuga Kabisae was done with ‘Matangazo maalum halkadhalika ya vifo.’
Then came the millennium, and with it the first icon of media revolution: FM Radio. KBC blessed us with Metro FM, which for a long time Njove [Not the one of wedding gifts] convinced me was using the slogan ’24/7 Horse of Reggae.’
Next up was a crop of local musicians, and John ‘KJ’ Kiarie in his ‘Head on Korishon’ segment in The Sunday Nation [Another xaxa pioneer] prophesied Kenyan youth would soon be pursuing music more than college degrees. Then, KJ was following his dream, before he later broke off to follow his father Waweru Ngéthe’s dream.
Then E-Sir happened, and with him the onset of KJ’s prophesy coming to be. Fortunately, or not, probably, Mkenya was one of those caught up in the music business craze. He teamed up with Alex Ndume who was also working with Patrick Mbogo and they started spending most of their free-and prep- time writing music. I don’t remember their stage names, I’ll work on that. Any money they saved was used to make trips to town in search of a recording studio.
All fine and proper; to each their own.
Except they started trying to rope me in. Mkenya specifically did the asking. He began by asking me to check the written lyrics for him. Although I had no music experience, I did that like a good brother and opined about a few rhymes I thought could be tweaked here and there.
Next he started inviting me to their practice sessions, and I tagged along as a show of support. Then they started asking me to give it a go. To this I said no. Categorically. But who do you call Mkenya!
He then started dropping subtle comments that the money I was wasting on Football-and other- magazines could go a long way in helping ‘our’ recording. I was tempted to tell him that his music business was none of my business, but I didn’t. I have no idea why, because it definitely wasn’t wisdom.
Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back.
One day I was on the desktop computer the Man Beater had acquired helping the chimp design a poster for a show they had coming up, trying to get creative and stuff. Somehow, they had managed to have a show in a neighbouring school on the eve of closing, and they were even allowed to bring in outsiders. I have to give it to them, I have no idea how they managed that. I must admit that for a split second I even mulled over the benefits of becoming an artist.
So we are there trying to come up with catchy phrases and, inevitably, ‘Wasanii wakali ndani ya nyumba’ came up. On it, we superimposed an image of the then famous ‘Simba Saloon’ lion that was used to advertise nights at The Carnivore on newspapers. Problem arose when we came to put in the artistes’ names.
After listing the three key performers, Mkenya slyly asked me to insert my name as a fourth performer. I was very alive to his cunning, but I just replied to him casually, ‘Hii ni ya wasanii wakali ndani ya nyumba, mimi nitakuwa msanii mkali hapo nje.’ [I’m not sure I got non-Swahili speaking readers. If there are, please notify]
Hahaha, hapo hujaniambia poa. Mkenya replied, and we got on with designing our poster.
The poster was dope; people loved it. I attended the show, and it was a relative success. The physically handicapped kids, part of the institution where the show was held, were elated. I felt happy- and a tinge envious- for Wasanii Wakali.
Talk of me joining the group never came to the surface again.
Eventually, they did split and went it solo but none of them pursued the dream much farther. And the music story went under. Until recently, when I told Mkenya I was planning to record a song ‘just for fucks,’ and he grumbled, After successfully killing my career!
That’s preposterous! I objected.
You remember when we were designing that poster and we came up with that killer phrase Wasanii Wakali ndani ya Nyumba and you said you would be Msanii mkali hapo nje?
Mmmh…yeah, I think I do.
Man, you really killed me with that. You blew out my candle.
Whoa! That was just a casual statement! You are blaming me for your little ambition.
Casual to you. Little ambition it was yes, it needed some support to fledge…
Okay, let’s stop getting emotional here, shall we?
And just like that, the son of the soil failed to become a hit maker because of something casual I said. So now I’m here drawing images in my mind of how we could have become great [I definitely would have been the manager] and toured the world and given Sauti Sol a run for their money at the MAMAs.
Or just become a bunch of drug and alcohol imbimbing brats like…need I start listing?
My track is coming, soon.
Meanwhile, I’ll leave this one here for no reason at all…