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Open Mic 254: LIGHTS, MIC, ACTION

todayJune 21, 2023 133 1 5

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Imagine a world where music is a language and we all live in harmony celebrating and dancing, no matter the genre. Embracing the rhythm and moving in collaboration with it. In that world, how happy it would be. People filled with delight in their eyes, laughter and a heart full of soul food.

On the first day of July, Radio 254 & 254 Beer District are collaborating to create one of the most inclusive events in Kenya. Its prominence is rooted in that it is rooting for Kenyan artists. With an awesome line-up of the renown Lil Maina and Njeri alongside 90+ upcoming creatives eg.rappers, spoken word artists, singers, instrumentalists, Deejays.

The Open Mic, by Radio 254 and 254 Beer District, will be happening in the latter’s location at Delta Towers, Westlands. One ticket equates to one of the most quenching beers ever brewed and served by the one and only, Beer District Breweries. This is the ultimate place for everything: keg, beers among other refreshments. Of course, they also serve tasty delicacies that will help to set a good ‘foundation’ even as you drink responsibly. It is an 18+ event and yet, it is an exclusive invite to sample not only the beers but also the fresh new and upcoming artist lined up. It is a space to socialize, connect, market and if used to advantage both, the artists and attendees, will go back home with a win.

Over the past few years, the Play KE movement has been on the rise, creating awareness on the need to embrace our musicians and creatives over those from other countries. It also highlights the interdependency between the listener, the content creator, and the returns in the art or music industry; without plays, music clips would generate little to no income. Playing content can not be coerced, it comes from a desire to intertwine with the artist. How can Kenyans embrace their own music if even they are mainstream listeners?

The diversity in Kenya’s music genres creates a musical distaste in Kenyans because we feel like our true genuine sound is in the oldies sound like Genge and Kapuka. These days, our concerns are that we are merely copycats in the music industry because we have embraced other sounds over our own. On the other hand, other countries like Nigeria, UK, DRC, South Africa and even our neighbors, Tanzania have national genres attributed to them like Naija, Drill ,Rhumba, Amapiano & Bongo respectively. It is not a bombastic surprise that Kenyans copy all of the aforesaid genres and many more.

This year, we are seeing the rise of Kenya piano; a gentle mix of Kenya’s take with South Africa. It could be influenced by the launch of Talanta Hela Initiative, aiming to create a bridge between Kenyan and South African creative industries. But our big question remains, what is Kenya’s sound?

As disappointing as it is to hear that we are musical copycats, it is important to recognize that copying is necessary for growth; even from a biological standpoint. Cells duplicate to replicate and grow. Seeing as we are intertwined with other genres, it is possible to find Kenyan artists creating projects with a touch of another sound. Depending on what you like, if you search, you will most definitely find the music creator that soothes your mind and lulls your thoughts.The Open Mic, by Radio 254 and 254 Beer District, offers both artists and the audience, the platform to interact with all genres of Kenyan music. It will be an epic event with tons of people to interact with, music in the air, food and lots of beers!

Kenya’s pace towards making change in Play KE, is gradual yet it will be earth-breaking too. There is beauty in the diversity of music that Kenyans’ make. The fact is, no matter what other genre you listen to internationally,you can be rest assured that there’s an artist in Kenya with that touch of “gold”. Kenyan musicians are like shape shifters capable of making any sound theirs with a Kenyan touch. If that does not make you excited about our country and artists, there is no hope for you. The complexity of Kenya’s sound makes it flexible for international audiences as well, because it accommodates their genres too. Without discrimination, all creatives who have signed up will perform. It is an avenue to fall in love with lyrics, dance around the words and absorb the sound that 254 has to offer.

Written by: 254 Radio

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