Mayday! Mayday! A giant is falling. Help is needed fast. Seriously, what’s happening to once mighty P-Unit? The group that has given us multiple hits in the past is slowly losing its influence.
I have a penchant for relying on facts instead of assumptions so let us look at how their past three songs have performed. “Chocha”, which was released around eight months ago only has 350,000 views on YouTube. That’s a figure that Willy Paul hits in three days.
“Me I” which was released three months ago has a dismal 160,000 views whereas their latest single “Fire” has around 65,000 views. There’s clearly a problem here, right?
Today, I seek to come up with an accurate diagnosis of the patient at hand. You can call me Dr. Etemesi. To pinpoint the disease that is chewing on the cells of P-Unit, I will quickly look at a few possible scenarios.
Perhaps the problem is Boneye.
Many music lovers will agree that one of the greatest verses in Kenyan music history was created by Boneye. That’s despite the fact that he was making very little sense in the iconic verse. It was just good. It was like listening to a pastor speaking in tongues and just loving what he’s saying. It was the cousin of catchy, if not the brother.
A good number of us have still crammed his words from P-Unit’s 2010 smash single “Kare.” Boneye’s verse went something like “Bon’Eye jemedari mkare, mistari generale, kare, generali tangu kale, kare.” Frasha’s verse was also pretty solid but Boneye’s ramblings were unforgettable.
This was not something we were used to because Boneye is normally the weakest member of P-Unit. Apart from “Kare”, Boneye’s verses in all other P-Unit songs have been worthy of fast-forwarding.
The last time P-Unit had a well-performing single was two years ago. The song was “Wabe” and as you guessed, Boneye wasn’t in it. There were rumours that he had quit the group but that wasn’t true. He was just left out the way Takeoff was left out of Migos’ biggest single “Bad ‘n’ Boujee.” Maybe it would have been a good thing if Boneye had indeed left.
Frasha and Gabu have featured on other successful singles outside P-Unit but Boneye has never done that. While he is away from his band brothers, his weaknesses are usually exposed in a major way.
Nearly every music group has a chink in the armour so Boneye’s case isn’t unique. Kleptomaniax had Roba. The Kansoul has Kora. Ethic has Zilla and so on. Whenever members of a group decide to work on their own, the weak member usually ends up suffering –n a lot.
So, should Boneye be dropped for P-Unit to function magnificently again? Though it might not be easy for the other members to tell him “si ukae kando kidogo (step aside for a while)”, I think this is exactly what should be done, at least temporarily. If Gabu and Frasha manage to come up with another “Wabe”, then surgery should be done to remove Boneye completely.
The decision to focus on individual projects for a while could also have been the gremlin. Before they returned with “Chocha”, P-Unit hadn’t released a song together for over a year.
Frasha had decided he wanted to be an MCA. He ran a spirited campaign before backing out at the last minute. Gabu was hanging out with the likes of Kristoff and featuring in numerous collaborations while Boneye was busy being a businessman and running Decimal Records with veteran producer Musyoka.
It is said that when a group becomes too big, the members usually end up becoming too busy for each other. I was talking to a friend recently and he told me “You think even kina Bien and Savara hang out together nowadays? I bet they only meet in the studio when it’s time to record.” That might be true.
So maybe P-Unit forgot how to work together as a group after each member decided to go solo for a while. Only they themselves can fix that by making the journey back to what made them tick in the first place.
Or maybe their time is just up. Every musician or music group has their peak years after which they slowly wane. It happens to them all. No one stays at the top forever.
With the emergence of hot new groups like Ethic, the focus of the fans might have shifted. Younger fans that make up the majority of mainstream music consumers (because they have a lot of time on their hands) might not have been paying attention when P-Unit came up over 10 years ago. As a result, they don’t value the group as much.
Older fans that were hungry for music when P-Unit came up with songs like “Si Lazima” might be too busy right now to keep the group relevant. If this is the case, then Frasha, Boneye and Gabu can just accept things as they are and let fate do what it does best.
My hope is that what’s ailing P-Unit is only a short-term illness. I hope it’s a homa that will go away. I have loved the group since its inception. In fact, I am listening to “Kushoto Kulia” right now. It would be sad to see them fade away. I hope they render this article irrelevant by releasing another banger, even tomorrow. I really hope they do.