#PlayKenyanMusic: 4 Key Players Who Sparked the Conversation

Article by Jacqueline
Posted: January 15, 2019  

The gloves really came off in this issue, didn’t they? Words have been thrown around this issue so much, it’s easy to get lost on who started this conversation on playing Kenyan music and whether there’s hope in the end. Here’s a breakdown of who lit the fire, to the one who fanned it and some of the reactions from Kenyans and local musicians.

Khaligraph Jones made a post on Instagram last week saying that he’ll pay for journalists to fly to Nigeria. This was during his trip to Lagos for the Sound City Music Awards. Why? So that they can confirm Kenyan music is not played there as much as how Kenyan media houses play West African music. Here is the post.

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I am planning on Bringing at least 10 big Kenyan media personalities/Radio presenters to Nigeria for a 10 day trip which I myself shall cater for,I want to see if some of y’all will be recognized by your Nigerian fans or if you even have fans at all here, it would be very sad if you don’t though ?? ?????????????? #respecttheogs

A post shared by Khaligraph jones (@khaligraph_jones) on

Comedian-cum-radio presenter Jalang’o was not impressed by Khaligraph’s sentiments and he fired back, faulting musicians who think radio presenters deliberately refuse to play their songs. Jalang’o stated that Kenyans don’t particularly consume local music citing top charts like Apple Music which do not feature Kenyan artistes. Check out the post here.

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@khaligraph_jones is planning a trip for presenters and media personalities to NAIJA to see if they have fans there since we play too much Naija and soon the next trip will be to bongo! Yes we don't have fans there but before you start blaming us! Did you know that presenters don't even choose music played on Radio and if they do they have very little say on what goes on air? No you dint! Before music is scheduled on Radio it is researched on and all we do is play ! The other day we were involved in making our playlist, I posted it here asking you to help us and the results were shocking almost! 50% Bongo 40% Naija! Today on Apple Music there are only 6 Kenyan songs in top 100 Kenya! So hata hiyo pia ni ma presenters na djs wamepanga? But the question is how did we get here to NAIJA and BONGO? Marketing! Aggressiveness! And getting out your comfort zone! If you are still depending on Radio and Tv to make you big then you have nothing in this industry! There are too many avenues! YouTube, Spotify,Apple music..then we have social media platforms! Diamond launched his Album in more than 10 countries some of you have not launched even for your family! We can't play what we don't know! I personally has hosted and booked you guys for events and paid you guys for shows even if it's little ,I have done my part! The other day @thekingkaka launched his Album they dint even show up and the other day saw them begging selfies with Diamond just like they did with Neyo instead of asking for collabo! Khaligraph you know what hard work is and what it took you to be there! Sautisol dint have to depend on us! Hii ni 2019 na mkiendelea hivi mtatukuna saana! Link on my bio support @officialmasauti_

A post shared by JALANG'O (@jalangoo) on

By this time, the hashtag #PlayKenyanMusic was already trending on Twitter and Kenyans had strong opinions about the issue. Music and entertainment publicist Anyiko Owoko jumped in on the conversation to defend media houses, giving a shout out to the ones that already play local music. Here is her post.

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Until when will we keep pointing fingers blindly at different industry stakeholders? My appeal to artists -stop demonizing radio / media and work with them to build your brands. To media professionals do not mislead people on social media claiming that Kenyans don’t request for Kenyan music or that Kenyan lacks quality content. That’s some bull crap that I said I won’t even be responding to. We wanna help this industry to move on? Then we all have to stop the blind blame game and start playing our part. Can we have more Kenyan media and platforms supporting more local content? I think we can and we must also also credit and shout out those who are working towards this ?? All vernacular and Swahili speaking stations have been doing this. Several radios stations / shows are doing this. @kiss100kenya has Maloko Show and Urban Africa. @ghettoradio895 has Kenyan Tuesdays. KBC Radio has a show on Sundays called Kenyan artists. My former TV show on KBC features 100% local content. The list is endless! You must know that you need more than just radio also to build your careers. I am currently the editor of @notjustok East Africa platform, the website is Nigeria’s biggest Pan African music discovery website. We feature all quality East African content (music & videos). Artists use email on my bio to send your songs for the site. I am expecting established artists and media to be the leaders in making real change. Don’t mislead the incoming generation of artists or make them look at media as if media doesn’t support. It does and yes it can do more! You can also do more with your personal brands, content and quality. Let’s not forget for a second that African Entertainmnent is a very competitive industry. Wink or sleep once and your spot is taken. C’mon Kenyan acts let’s see the hunger in you! Let’s see the groundbreaking content you are producing in 2019!! And last but not least, Kenyans are not wrong to listen and request to a wide variety of music. That just means that there’s still a lot to decipher when it comes to a Kenyan’s music palette. #PleaseStopTalkingAndWork #LetsMoveTheIndustry #LifeOfAPublicist #IndustryMover #HapaKazi

A post shared by ANYIKO OWOKO (@anyikowoko) on

Famed radio personality Maina Kageni then commented on Daddy Owen’s post saying, “….tell your contemporaries to give us content that will push foreigners off our playlists…you are highly rotated, advise them on what they need to do to be the next Daddy Owen.”

These four were getting media traction and fueling the debate on whether local stations should play 100% Kenyan music, or at least a larger share of local music. Meanwhile, Kenyans on Twitter were tearing at the local music industry while the artistes who are on the platform shared their thoughts. What do you think about this whole debate? Here the reactions from Kenyans.

About the author


Jacqueline is a former KenyaBuzz employee.


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