Johhny Vigeti is one-third of the Kenyan based rap trio Kalamashaka with a little bit of salt, sauce, and some pepper sprayed on top. He’s also regarded as your popular rapper’s popular rapper in Kenya. He’s the author and originator of killer flows and punchlines. Going forward, who doesn’t know the line,
”…Madoggy za mitaa zingine hazikojoi mtaani hapa.”
which when translated from local slang means that dogs from other neighborhoods aren’t allowed to urinate here.
In the past years, he’s been on a Hiphop Sabbatical due to slightly straying and following a path littered with crime and hard drug abuse. Fortunately, he’s decided to clean up—thanks in part to his superproducer Ken Ring—and has put out a much anticipated 12-track Hiphop & Reggae album project called ‘Mr.Vigeti’ that I’m analyzing on this blog. I will use the term socialite—a celebrated person that spends most of their time attending social functions and events—purely for contrast. Here are my five major rationalizations on why you need look out for this young lion:
- Its honest and incredibly tear-jerking.
Spending a weekend with your most revered socialite will leave you with a $15,000 bill. That’s if you’re rich enough to fit this bill on a random 4-day rendezvous’ in Dubai. But not Johnny Vigeti! Just for $0 banging his new album dubbed ‘Mr.Vigeti’ up in your system will leave you tearfully ruminating about your life. As a case in point the track called ‘Mama’ (Swahili for mother) featuring singer Theluji Alicios is an open letter to his mother on the daily struggles he’s undergoing and his path to self-decay and corruption caused by his deep drug abuse and crime in the informal settlements of Dandora. In it he relays his grateful feelings to her for playing her parenting role perfectly well even though he intimates his desire to mend his ways. I found this track to be important because I reckon if you and I want to move forward in our respective establishments then it’s mandatory for us to have an honest re-examination and re-evaluation of our past, perhaps noting the specific concerns we need to resolve.
- Compelling personal stories as the new revolution.
Having a revolutionary story line is not always synonymous with an artists’ content bordering around strong political messages and metaphors. It also implies that the artist is letting his fans or other enthusiasts walk with them through the process of personal change by letting them in on their deepest emotions and thoughts. In essence, being truthful and transparent with their fans. And to this end, on the track ‘Siku Moja’ Vigeti vents about being overwhelmed by his drug situation, being in an emotional meltdown which left him extremely distressed to the point of being admitted in a hospital institution. He mashes up of all these revelations with a heavy bass voiced hook that’s supposed to express his confidence with the future.
On the flip side, your dream socialite will suffocate your respiratory system with the i-came-from-the-bottom-now-i-am-at-the-top cliché vibe. Still they never open up to their fans about the disquieting thoughts and blues which they occasionally nurse as a result of their complicated course of life.
- Ken Ring’s production is a mini-tour to the Orchestras.
Your choicest ratchets can only bump their posterior ends to monotonous and repetitive Jamaican-Ragga beats. The problem with this format is the fact that when you throw away the visual, the music becomes inconsequential. On the contrary, lending an ear to Ken Ring’s production is like taking a mini-trip to a classical music showcase. The track “Scarface Dream” contains head bobbing instrumentals with heavy snares and layered with some nice strings and violins. Vigeti then jumps in and does the beat justice by delivering solid flows and awesomely attempting to be in synchrony with the snare all through the track. Surprisingly, keeping on the track ‘Cinema Ni Ya Hora’ (Swahili for it’s a horror movie), I didn’t find his hooks that bad. A great way that he deliberately prevented bad hooks from happening on this jam was by using well-seasoned kid rappers known as Wakuu Music and the female R ‘n’ B singer Alicios on the aforementioned jam ‘Mama’.
- Let the beat breathe, please.
Inasmuch as spitting venom on instrumentals is exciting and raises the adrenaline for fans, sometimes clogging the beats with too much spit is unnecessary. It hurts the ears while coming across as trashy. And above all it leaves me screaming, “Please let the beat breathe!”. Yes I agree that tracks like ‘Simba’ (Swahili for lion) and ‘Cinema Ni Ya Hora’ demands a thorough walloping of new school emcees through unlimited bullet-like spit, Vigeti however successfully tampers this with easy laid back raps as exemplified by one of my personal best track ‘Mr.Vigeti’.And ah! The pauses in between the guitar note on this track, that’s what I call class. That’s what sets apart an intelligent rapper from other industry noisemakers.
- Refreshing Digital Battle Raps
Nairobi’s rap music industry in the recent few weeks was very much lax, boring and was becoming extremely technical in regards to the usual mechanical bubble gum rap music commercialism. It needed some spicing up and judging by Vigeti’s juiced-up-cum- assertive personality, no chicken would have passed untouched by the cock.On the track ‘Simba’ he leaves Khaligraph Jones, Rabbit Kaka Sungura and Octopizzo gasping for air and adds fuel to the fire by threatening to beat them physically if they ever reply. Lyrically, he also hijacks Octopizzo’s geographical territory on the track ‘Kibera’ by choosing to represent it instead of his own hometown Dandora.And keeping in mind that the track ‘Simba’ is continuing to generate listenership and so much online buzz, the golden question would be: Why did Octopizzo, Khaligraph Jones and Rabbit Kaka Sungura fail to segment Vigeti’s fan demographics by replying to this highly esteemed diss track?
I give it a strong seven!
Overall this record raises my hope with Kenyan music production houses and puts a smile on my face knowing that this format can be effectively reproduced through live bands and instrumentation even on international podiums. Ken Ring is definitely a valuable addition to the culture in relation to veteran production wizards like Blinky Bill, Kevin Provoke, Fancy Fingers, Kanyeria, Big Mic, Eric Musyoka, Kagwe Mungai, Atwal Adwok,Timothy Rimbui, Fadhilee Itulya, Kevin Grands and many more.
My verdict on this project is a strong seven out of ten. I reserve the three because further work could be done with high profile artist collaborations, giving fans a bountiful African oriented influence and delving into other meaningful aesthetics that’s less affected by the unsettled environment that the rapper Vigeti is in.Besides, his fans would desire an increasingly progressive sound and image from him since by now, they are a mature, elite and successful middle class in their late 30’s and early 40’s.
What about you? Have you listen to the album?
Kevin Ovita Teddy
Project Coordinator, Wasanii Mtaani/Artists in the Hood