Screenshot from one of Vuli Gate's dance craze videos.

When Kapuka music beat was taking shape as the Kenyan urban music beat in the 90s, the South African Kwaito sensation was emerging.

Kapuka, also referred to as Boomba music was Ogopa Deejay’s fronted music that incorporated Hip Hop, Reggae and African traditional musical styles. It was born in Nairobi.

On the other hand, Kwaito was a variant of |House music featuring African sound and samples of the Hip Hop beat. It was made distinct from House music by the use of catchy melodic and deep bass lines with a tempo slower than House music.

While Kapuka brought a new wave of Kenyan urban cool feel of music that had the homely Swahili and the sub-genre Sheng element, Kwaito emerged from Soweto, South Africa’s biggest suburb. It gave black South Africa a feel of ownership and pride in music they could finally refer to as urban own.

Names like the late E-Sir and K-Rupt made Kapuka and Ogopa Deejays stand out and consequently got the Kenyan beat moving across the borders with Ogopa Deejays, making stops in Windhoek, Namibia, where they opened a studio to popularise this Kenyan beat.

West Africa, which at the time was tying together its Afrobeats (in Ghana) and Afro-fusion (Nigeria) also picked an element of Kapuka that is still distinct in their current urban hits (Take a chance to listen to P Square if you may).


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Thirty years down the lane, South Africa has perfected its music sound; Note, not necessarily ‘Beat’. Amapiano is an offshoot of Kwaito. West Africa and Nigeria and Ghana for that have perfected theirs. What used to be an East African music powerhouse, Kenya, has become the express highway that feeds and takes without showing anything of its own.

The wars between Kapuka and Genge were healthy for the music industry. At the time, out of all the pressure the artistes and their parent stables at Calif, Ogopa and Homeboyz, just to say the least pushed Kenyan music out.

Some of the biggest productions made by the likes of pioneer producer Tedd Josiah on the other end of town like Necessary Noize and Gidi Gidi Maji Maji then announced our arrival on the table of men. Big talk, yes, for another day.

Gengetone has had its share in rekindling those great memories in the Kenyan music history; whose glory had been taken during lapse years when Bongo and Western music took the shine away.

Truth be told, it is not even about the wars and the challenges Gengetone groups and solo artistes have been facing. It is the lack of structure and precise music focus in the part of the Kenyan music industry that has seen Gengetone dwindle.

So yes, Amapiano is deeply-rooted here. Gengetone is on a different lane. It is a different battleground altogether. It is about the music industry. It is about a war we lost 15 years ago.