The pleasurable world of entertainment can be ruthlessly cruel. Like politics, there are no permanent friends, neither are there permanent enemies. Some rise and fall. Others fall and rise. And others simply fall and are forgotten. Who remembers Darlin P, the bubbly rapper who took Nairobi by storm long before the local music bust in the early 2000s?
Do you recall about two decades ago when a bubbly female gospel musician by the name of Henrie Mutuku stormed the entertainment world with the hit song Usichoke featuring Rufftone? Overnight, the easily likeable star became a household name as the song was almost turned into a national anthem. Everyone believed that Henrie, a rather media-shy and humble girl was Kenya’s best gospel artiste ever. Just how a talented church worship leader, songwriter and pianist from a Christian background lost her spark is a mystery.
This singer, now a married woman and a Sunday School teacher is just one of the many one-hit wonders from the music industry who fell by the roadside and did not rise.
Last year, Chantelle was upbeat that she would make a comeback into the music industry six years after releasing Toklezea, the 2014 track that featured rapper Abbas. The Toklezea (appear) word endeared her to the youth. In fact, the word was incorporated in every conversation among urban youth and Chantelle’s song was played in every radio and TV station.
Chantelle never ‘toklezead’ again and might never, even as we harbour all those fond memories of her ‘exploits’.
Shavey and Slice
The Kenyan dancehall pair captured the world’s attention in 2009 when their debut hit Gyal topped charts in Jamaica. Most thought this was a new Jamaican outfit. The Gyal tune was a big one after the wave of Necessary Noize and went international, reggae speaking.
Even with the fame and beckoning fortune, Shavey and Slice remained quite a mystical pair. Most of the time, they never made it for media interviews. They excused themselves as having been busy in the studio working on their debut album. Patiently, the world waited, not only for another hit, but for an album that would win them international acclaim. The next thing we knew was that the two had separated and that Shavey had died. That was two years ago.
How does such promising talent go wasted? Rest in peace Shavey.
Now, this was the biggest heartbreak of them all – we must say. Sema turned out to be a big letdown after fans put so much faith in them, cheering them into becoming the biggest pop stars in the region. And there was every sign they were destined for that – stardom.
The trio of Sanaipei Tande, Pam Waithaka and Kevin Waweru became the biggest group in East Africa back in 2004 after the Coca-Cola pop star search competition. And to affirm their newfound celebrity status, they dropped Leta Wimbo, an instant hit that topped local charts for months. Then there was Leo and Sakata, songs that were never as popular as Leta Wimbo.
Sanaipei opted for a radio job and for a solo career too. And shocked by her move, the other two fell into depression and lost the energy to sing. That is how the best dream pop group fizzled into thin air. Not so long ago, Pam was admitted to rehab. What more can we say about Sema.
Everyone thought the long wait was over when members of the 90s all-girl group Tattu announced that they were making a comeback. They never did. The group that had Angela Ndambuki, Angela Mwandanda and Debby Asila left fans high and dry when it went on mute just when it was being elevated into one of East Africa’s biggest music groups.
The Ogopalets, as they were referred as, had a number of songs but Teso, their 2003 release happened to be the memorable one.
Unique for presenting to us a mixture of ragga, reggae and hip-hop, Mbaruku Harrison aka Hardstone was one of the best Kenyan music exports back in 1997 when he released Uhiki off his Nuting But de Stone album. It was actually released internationally by German-based Kelele Records.
Loved by many Kenyan music fans, Hardstone opted to move to the land of milk and honey where he has been working with a number of record labels.