Kadori masanga, tucheze muziki
Ya Bana Kadori
Nairobi yote, dunia mobimba
Bana basemasema na banaogopa
Banatetemeka tu bakisikia, Huruma pasi
Huruma mobimba, Huruma ghetto
Huruma diambo, Huruma Corner
Uchunge sana, usipoteze saa pamoja na kiatu
Na vijana hatari kona
Wanakutegea we upite salama
Na ukizubaa, shingo nakwenda, koti nakwenda, tai nakwenda,longi nakwenda
Na mimi nabaki
Na watayasemasema, “Mzee pita! Salimia mami, tuonane roshio.”
Watayaimbaimba, “Odindo pita, salimia mami, tuonane roshio!”
– Bana Kadori, Huruma (Nairobi) Wololo
Now, in music, narratives are obviously discursive in the language an artist chooses to use in writing. The lingo automatically apprehends consumers of music into either being within the circle of deciphering both symbolic and direct meanings that the lyrics attach to issues addressed in a particular piece for example.
Many ghettos have been circumstantially juried into certain meanings and implications that upset how the community in this particular setting presents its ideas and information. It is to this reference that we find that the language in the ghetto is coded so as to protect, rightfully, abuse and misrepresentation of such a community’s credibility. Further, such codings usually sets uniquely aside different hoods with how they manufacture, process, use and transact materially or consciously. That is why every other hood has sort of a language typifying how its members think, what they go through, their experiences, their stories, how they do business, what do they think about ‘natural’ timeline of a person when they wake up in the morning and as they settle back after hustle.
I know Magode notoriously through his Huruma track which is why I opened this commentary with an excerpted lyrics from Luo Benga band Bana Kadori’s song “Huruma Wololo” loosely translated to Huruma, the Badass, or we could say, Huruma Baba Yo! Besides many times watching him freestyle with his usual suspects Cafu, Wordz, MC proto during street cyphers in a street near Nakumatt Lifestyle or Alliance Francaise or Jamboree (the city raining itself bad after a Saturday event and Nyangi and her sista clique all poetic around).
There’s this day, guys were jumping in like a 4:20 pass pass, sick bars, everyone repping their hoods. It was my turn, and since honestly I can’t freestyle, I can’t remember exactly what I said. It was something anticlimactic, I got into the conversation with a ‘philosophy’ and just said something like:
“I think where we come from matters, but shouldn’t be attached to a serialized limitations for our peoples. I come from the other side, and I have heard it being bugged down as bourgeoisie, exploitative, where systemic looters come from, where there is no ‘suffering’. I think ghetto is a mind state. All these gated lines sometimes render us far from the truth which is, comparatively, all these sides have their own silent beauties (and pains too) to bring to the table. Much as the struggles of lifetimes can be, I think it also matters how we knock our arguments, how we set our minds in achieving things that otherwise are potentially unlikely of us to do so.”
I carried my diary with me to these cyphers. It was Ondu who affirmed me that hip hop has grown to accommodate some aspects that previously would attract heat and blast, for example reading your thoughts/lyrics/critiques in a gathering. I agreed. We aren’t statically positioned in hip hop to watch from a distance, hip hop is far more an extensively inclusive platform which encourages inter-genre shifts of interactions and relationships.
Imagine an evening, pale base, after work your convo with your Gs. And then the question pops, “What’s a dope album for you? What must this album narrate or express for you to consider it great?” Conversation rolls in: stories, beat type, topical coverage, lyricism, flow, emotions… and so on.
“Balance,” GKV, the dope producer for The Untold Story remarks. He explains. The piece should package not just your stories, how you view life, what happens how and when you roll. I think this is agreeably associated to Chimamanda’s ‘The Dangers of a Single Story’. A good album should explore many narratives without risking its line to just one view of the artist or the artist’s tboughts.
I don’t if “Like Father Like Son” or “Heaven’s Door” is my favourite track out of this tape. We’ll see. Growing up one aspires to evolve out of just a parent’s protege and becoming better or closer to the folks. Folks play a dope role, and when they pass, they leave a trail of high marks unprecedented. These are some of the wonders anyone who’s been there imagines: did they have a choice/did their best, if they’re watching (certainly, somehow, they are) are they proud to see down here, are we judging them for their down sides and their mistakes, are we up for the same fate they faced. It’s a haunting memory. Like Father Like Son has a sad story, the narrative will give you chills and Shaquay gave it a beautiful hook:
I look up to you
You got me living in your footsteps, oh yea
I look up to you
I really wanna be so much like you
You can call it like father like son
I look up to you for guidance
Since I am a mama’s boy, Heaven’s Door steals my show. The hook, damn. Magode you were mischievous! I am glad you define love through mama. The remorse and nostalgia is sickening, beautiful. Also, I told Alfred (how many people call you that? Apart from your class teacher back in the days? Or maybe ma, mother’s have a way of calling you with that name that street haitambui. Thank you for this.
I told Magode the night he sent me the album, I was in India recuperating. There’s a silent undertone of a very strong love story in his album, I insisted it was a beautiful woman and very close homies. That is the story behind Misimu Zangu, Am In Love, Humble Beginnings, Me na Mabeshte and Phone Call. The circle is tight, the hustle is on full gas pad, first lane. As long as you gone be back chilling after a long day with your dawgs, chroming that herb, street intel, beautiful wife/chic/mbus and a baby to set you searching for better days.
Spokenword poet, Teardrops brings a good weaving in the album. He deconstructs all the stereotyping of the ghetto, where hard knock concrete life also propels creativity. Ghetto has its paradise, not just how people prefer to slash it against posh suburbs but how it survives through its skin and break barriers and establishes a space and a story for itself and the world.
Oh, one more. I like Chacha’s Some Day. I once used the sane beat on Kilio Cha Darubini. A poetic cryout for a partner with so much remorse. If only the streets would not steal all the ninjas completely, leave them a piece of love for the fam and the ride-or-die love waiting back in the digs.
Niko Fresh is a feel good. GKV outshines ninjas here (imo), I love his Kiswahili with a coastal touch. Cafu, though flow c(h)afu, easy. I’d push this on the CD when am pedaling upcountry in a vest, or backyard weekend chill out just hanging out or request a dj play for this.
“Pia Gs huget their hearts broken”, closes the tape in a good sampled instrumental. Sort of jazzy boombap. Relationship and heartbreak, “Heri ningemtumia kisu baada ya lugha”, Cafu declares it’s too late. Damn, hio verse ya Brax, fuck!
Nadunga ka mobster, na f ka pornstar
Juu niliact ka fala wako once, nikawin Oscar
Dem ananiletea ulayability na ma assets
Anakaa toi, mbuyu ni deadbeat parent
Na kusaja mabuda wa kubuy gadgets ndio zake
Me mteja, street budget
I’m done. That’s the death of love. Too much abuse of love, you never know if you balancing the ledger of feelings or fillings or feeding or what? War? Body equals commerce! Depends on what’s marketed.
Finally, Magode owes me a glossary. Not to say I buffered listening to the tape. Like I said mbona nijichomelee picha, kuna lingo kadhaa zimenipita. I’d like to know. Vocab hizi zilikujaje zikawa zinatumika in that context?
Mbus, lol lol, why would you call her that?