That the music industry, even with the advent of streaming, is mostly male dominated is a not a secret. The rough-edged Gengetone more so because of its raunchy- some recently called it ‘rapey’- lyrics and female stars have notably given the genre a wide berth.
An exception to this truth is Sylvia Saru aka Ssaru. Ssaru has been cutting a niche for herself since her raw freestyles went viral. Her first music video Nyama was released in November last year.
As the title may suggest, Nyama is a brash Gengetone tune, but of note is the singer’s flawless rap skill which makes every word from her mouth music to the ear.
Though still in her teens, this singer-songwriter has already amassed a sizeable and rabid fan base. Behind the delicate voice, Ssaru writes the kind of ominous music that speaks directly to the masses who appreciate her unflinching honesty.
“Although majority see me as a Gengetone artiste I can basically describe myself as a versatile artiste. I started as a rapper and I also have some dancehall projects ready to drop anytime but as for now Gengetone is pretty much big and ruling the airwaves so we chose to ride on it as well,” the soft-spoken singer says.
The Kayole-bred songstress is bubbly and noticeably colourful. She likes donning “shouting colours every other time” and is rocking red-dyed hair.
“But you can find me in green, yellow or anything that is colourful and fashionable. I address my bold self in bold colours and styles,” she says.
Born and bred in Kayole, the young musical star chose to follow her dreams instead of going to college.
Already she has worked with the likes of Parroty, Kappy, Benzema and the latest works with Shay Diva another upcoming female Gengetone artiste. She aims to work with more artistes first before getting signed to any label.
“As a musician, I am only ever thinking about the production, the words, the recording. The vibes and general feel of how music sounds might be different from country to country, but it’s all still music,” says the third born in a family of four siblings.
She was born in a religious family and her music tries to addresses what happens in her surrounding especially the ghetto life. It is a balance she has to maintain bearing in mind the hard-hitting nature of Gengetone.
Gengetone has, however, generated a lot of controversy because of its coarse content, with critics saying it is encouraging immorality. Others have also pointed that the genre may fizzle out if the artistes keep serving fans the same theme, but Ssaru doesn’t buy into such arguments.
“Yes, people say all kind of stuff but good music is good music. Since the fairly new genre hit the airwaves I can say it truly redefined and revolutionised the Kenyan music industry,” she opines.