A Primer on Kenyan Music Videos
I’m working on a new research project that examines music video production in Kenya. In June, I was able to spend a few weeks in Nairobi interviewing several music video directors (and a few others: assistants, musicians, DJs, etc.).
I’ll write more about this project in the future, but I wanted to offer my thanks to the incredibly talented and equally busy folks who took the time to speak with me. It isn’t lost on me that these individuals had little to gain from participating in these interviews. The least I can do is write a few words to promote their work on this site.
For each director, I’ve selected one video that resonated with me. I encourage you to take a deeper look at their work. They are quite impressive. Directors are listed in the order in which I met them.
Simon runs Krushal Entertainment, based in Kibera’s Ayany Estate. Even though I’ve spent a decent amount of time in Kibera, I didn’t meet Simon until some kind Swedes introduced us. Shamir is one of the artists signed with Krushal – “On Your Case” is a nice cat-and-mouse romance video.
Alfred works with Ogopa Deejays, which has been at the forefront of Kenyan Hip Hop since the 1990s. Alfred has produced videos for some of the biggest acts in Kenyan music. This recent track from Elani is insanely catchy, and the video serves as a parallel love song to downtown Nairobi.
Brian is working hard to develop Onfon Productions into one of the top production houses in Nairobi. His video for Sanaipei’s latest track has really put Onfon on the map. It has attracted plenty of views and a bit of controversy as well – some people think it’s too sexy for TV.
Edward is a graduate of the Hot Sun Film School (formerly the Kibera Film School), so we have a number of mutual friends. Since he graduated, Edward has been producing music videos under the company Library Box Films. Edward came to the interview with the performer OBJay, so I’ve included Edward’s video for OBJay’s song “Superstar.”
One of the founding members of Just a Band, Jim was responsible for the band’s unique visual style in their music videos. Although Jim left the band in 2013, he co-founded and now serves as the Creative Director for The NEST. “Ha He” (the Makmende video) is a must watch, but since I’ve written about that before, you should check out “If I Could.”
Kevin Bosco Jr.
Kevin has music in his DNA. His father is a well known Benga musician, and Kevin was also a performer before he got started in music videos. I love the vibe of this track from Kus’Ma, and the video is from the launch of Kus’Ma’s mixtape.
Like Kevin, Enos was also a performer before he got into directing music videos. Inspired by those who used to take pictures of his band performing at Alliance Francaise, Enos is now one of the most sought after directors in Kenya. His video for Sauti Sol‘s “Nishike” was banned from local TV for being too sexy. Judge for yourself.