The Kenyan music scene is one of the most diverse and vibrant in Africa. However, ask any Kenyan which pop music style truly represents Kenya as a nation and there is only one possible answer: benga.
Benga is a pop style with its roots in traditional rhythms, instruments, and melodies. Luo musicians from western Kenya brought the style to prominence in the late 60s but other cultural/linguistic groups in other parts of Kenya quickly developed their own localized variants. With its pulsing beat, interlocking guitars, extended solos, and rapid-fire bass, benga music has dominated the Kenyan music scene over most of the post-colonial period.
Kakai Kilonzo is one of only a handful of benga artists to attract a broad following across Kenya. He opened up his music to others outside his Kamba language and background by singing in Swahili, which is widely understood throughout Kenya. At the same time, with catchy melodies and engaging lyrics, Kakai sang about subjects that all Kenyans can relate to: songs on all aspects of love and marriage, on social responsibility, societal ills (like drinking and witchcraft), moral guidelines, national unity, economic development, and more.
The songs on this compilation are taken from across Kakai's recording career, spanning from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, shortly before his illness and untimely death in early 1987, aged only 33. No Wahala Sounds are proud to present this selection of hard-to-find 45s from Les Kilimambogo Brothers, which are being released on vinyl here, for the first time outside Kenya.