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CELEB BUZZ: My top ten Kenyan rappers of all time

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By PHILIP ETEMESI
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Picking a favourite rapper is extremely hard, especially if you’re only allowed to only put one name down.

Luckily, Daily Nation has afforded me the freedom to express myself with multiple words so I’ll name ten rappers.

I’ve still ranked them from best to wors…… Hold on! There is no ‘worst’ here. This is a list of the greats. Here we go.

Some staunch rap fans don’t rate him highly because his style was more commercial than conscious.

However, no other Kenyan rapper has ever managed to exert more influence than him. In terms of how iconic he is, E-Sir is like the Kenyan version of Tupac and the Notorious BIG.

Most rappers on this list have great songs but none of them had songs that everyone could sing along to, word for word. It’s sad that he passed away at search an early age.

There are those who argue that he is only considered great because he died.

They say that because he passed away while still young, we only remember the best work from his brief catalogue. Meanwhile, someone like King Kaka gets lambasted and told “you don’t make tracks like “Dodoma” anymore.” It somehow makes sense. If E-Sir would be alive today there is a chance he would have made sup-bar music at some point. It’s impossible to make music for fifteen years and not put out work that is tasteless. But we can’t penalize E-Sir for dying right? He captured the minds and hearts of the masses. Sometimes that’s all that is needed to be the greatest of all time.

He is the complete opposite of E-Sir. He is super-conscious. He holds the honour of having the best verse in the history of Kenyan Hip Hop. Many years ago, Johnny Vigeti together with other Ukoo Flani Mau Mau members teamed up with Ibra Da Hustler to create the iconic track called “Punchlines Kibao.” Perhaps they should have just called it “Punchlines za Vigeti!” In it, Johnny delivered what was the most cracking verse ever. The shrewdness in it was worthy of a standing ovation.

But the verse alone doesn’t make Johnny great. As part of Kalamashaka, he was one of the first mainstream artistes to taste real fame. He also made many kids out there realize they can rap. Before Kalamashaka, no one ever saw considered rapping a viable career in Kenya.

He might have gone MIA lately but the name Abbas aka Jerry Doobiez will never fail to be mentioned when the greats are being talked about. My favorite verse from him was from the song “2050” in which he teamed up with Chiwawa and Malik.  He blessed us with poetic, rewind-worthy bars that have forever refused to vacate my headspace.

There were two phases in his career. First, there was Abass, the K-South member then there was Abass the solo artists. Give me Pre-Abass or Post-Abass, I won’t complain. Both versions of this great lyricist were satisfying.

The O.G can be annoying but if his talent was to be measured in litres it would be more than all the H20 in all the ‘Clean Water’ tankers in Nairobi. He raps as fast as legendary American rapper Twista and he twengs like he grew up in Brooklyn. But he’s just Omollo from Kayole and Bondo.

I first saw him back in 2010. He was performing at Wapi Festival in Ngara. King Kaka was there but he already had a few hit songs like “Mtu Hivi Hivi”. The song Khaligraph performed was called “Tunawapatia Vile Inafaa.”(If I am not wrong) I can never forget it. Everyone cheered him but I had no idea who he was. When I asked a person next to me to fill me in on the identity of the huge guy (yes he was still huge), I was told his name was Khaligraph.

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He only became a proper star like two or three years ago and I keep wondering why it took so long for people to appreciate him. But he’s here now and he has made it.

“Saa hii mnafeel aje? Poa tena sana!” Has there ever been a better chorus than that? Chiwawa was ruthless in his prime. He might have named himself after a humble and cute little dog but he was more ferocious than a bulldog. You don’t have to dig deep into his catalogue to find the gems. They are all over the surface.

Bamboo was the true ‘Lord of Showbiz.’ Every weekend, the papers were filled with stories about him. From his relationships with mzungus to his beefs with other artistes, Bamboo always made headlines. Perhaps the most entertaining part of his career was his beef with Prezzo.

His antics aside, Bamboo’s flow was as smooth as a bowling green. Add the powerful one-liners and the impeccable ability to rhyme almost every word and you get a rapper that should have named himself Baobab instead of Bamboo. Why? Simply because baobab is stronger and thicker than bamboo. And that’s what Bamboo’s lyrics have always been – very strong.

RIP to him. Kantai passed away recently but his work lives on. He is the guy that made it cool to rap in English. His lyrics were not extraordinary but he could find concealed pockets in a beat that most rappers couldn’t. Kantai could have had a greater run if his personal demons hadn’t consumed him. Despite his struggles, Hip Hop fans will always have nothing but love for him.

The Kenyan Drake! He can rap and sing better than most people who only do one of those. Nyash also has enough quotable lines to make Martin Luther King jealous. He is an expert in breaking down complex hypotheses into epigrammatic bits of savoury information.

Nyash is mostly respected because of how long he has been in the game. They say his most memorable verse was from the song “Tuendelee.” But he has too many memorable verses. Counting them would take weeks.

I keep wondering why she never became a world-famous rap superstar. She has always had everything it takes from semantics to the ability to diversify her delivery.

She does sound like an American rapper sometimes.

Even The Rock gave her a shoutout last year but she still wasn’t propelled to the next level. Nevertheless, STL’s legendary status in Kenya could never be put to question.

Locally, no other female rapper has managed to challenge her for the throne. So long as Femi One still continues working with people like Kristoff in search of the next “Tippy Toe” and Wangechi takes forever to release a mega-hit, STL will remain the Queen of Rap for a long time to come.

Controversies enjoy trailing him but when he sits down and focuses on creating good music, he usually ends up creating magical music instead.

He not only knows how to rap, he also knows how to wrap his words around the beat properly.

That’s something Juliani has never mastered.

Juliani is usually so eager to get his words out that he ends up ignoring the beat. He goes this way while the beat goes that way. Sorry Juliani. You are top five in my top ten Gospel artistes list though.

That’s a guarantee. Anyway, my two favorite tracks from Octo are “Noma Ni” and “Ivo Ivo”



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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