This was the deal breaker in my opinion. Rufftone toned down on producing music he would do so but rarely. He worked on bringing up artistes, something I respect him for. We all know he is the man behind the celebrated Daddy Owen, he also mentored Ringtone for a long time, he opened up a studio Lampstand Records to meet the same purpose, I hope it still exists. On the other hand his brother Daddy Owen learned the art of collabos, he did quite a number of them at one time he was known as the King of Gospel collabos. In the period of 2004 – 2010, he did projects with artistes like; Fatmod, Mr. Googz, Ambassador, Porqupine, Harry-G, and I am sure there are many others that did not make it to the airwaves. His biggest collabo project was with one Dunco Atalaku. They did a number of songs and were lucky enough to produce music videos in 2008 & 2009, but it still did not break through until in early 2010 they decided to go for a change in style and they did what is still remembered today as System ya Kapungala. At the same time Daddy Owen is doing this many collabos, a new artiste who was a former underground Ukoo Flani rapper became a Christian and moved on to do Gospel music. His first two songs did well especially Rimz and Timz off his album Mtaa Mentality. He was still not a well-recognized name outside Gospel circles. Hip-hop and especially hardcore Hip-Hop is not yet fully accepted to date. Astar and Michelle of the Kijiji Family under Kanji Mbugua really put out some good stuff out there but Hip-Hop in Kenya has just had more than a fair share of struggles. However Juliani really hit the screens when he released his hit song Biceps, off the same album Mtaa Mentality. Biceps was really a thing, making rounds in Gospel and Secular Music circles, Hela yet another hit where he featured LC also did very well. His rap prowess especially the sarcasm and analogy he used, the hidden meaning and the punchlines made him an admiration.
I am not trying to say that Juliani and Daddy Owen are responsible for the breaking out of Gospel music but rather they were favored by good climatic conditions to be able to do good music when the industry was about to break out and they were victims of good opportunities. The likes of Eko-Dyda, Holy Dave, Kris Eeh Baba, MOG, Jimmy Gait, Ringtone, Verbal, Hope Kid, Kevo Yout SK-Blue, Jimmy Gait, Kilosh, Pastor Rhymes, Mr. T, Mbuvi, Kamlesh and a few others some of them newbies at the time were not far from the spotlight and their work does not go unrecognized but allow me to use Juliani and Daddy Owen to make my point. Their role in the industry caused two main and good things maybe three that I wish were not the case with Gospel Music. First they caused the world that does not listen to Gospel music to find some appreciation for it, in 2011 it was not a strange thing for Gospel music to be frequently aired on non-Gospel shows both TV and radio. Second they gave a big brand for Gospel music attracting immense corporate support, shows like Groove Awards which is a Gospel Music awards became a big deal even being aired live on TV, the Groove Party and TSO happening every 31st December became like the place to be, gaining tons of publicity on television and even live coverage, I doubt we have that for any secular events consistently if ever. Most of these artistes even became Brand Ambassadors for various initiatives and even products, Rufftone, Daddy Owen, Jimmy Gait and Juliani got to these levels. Thirdly Gospel Musicians started making money for once, I remember when Juliani bought a second hand BMW it was on the papers, it was a big deal that it had to be covered and even when he got a Mercedes C-Class it was still something. Today the industry has grown way too much, some of the famed Gospel artistes will demand up to the tune of half a million before turning up for a show. They have new cars almost every month we can’t even keep up. As I said, I wish these things wouldn’t have come to the scene since they only caused the Gospel industry to be in such a mess we are almost unable to find our way back.
It is also important to appreciate that the Gospel Music industry has grown because of the people, the fans. I mean even the secular music industry has had its fair share of struggles, if you talked to Nonini, Nameless, Jua Cali or Redsan they also have a story to tell. I guess the reality is that the masses gradually found ways to appreciate urban music and urban music found a way to reach people, social media, internet platforms and mainstream media have all been helpful tools, events have grown attracting great corporate support all because the fans expressed greater support, this growth had to come but it was not expected and so no one really worked towards it or planned in expectation, especially for the Christian arena, this applies greatly. It will be our fault as Christians who consume this music if we did not find a solution to solve this mess.
Daddy Owen stayed on top of his game, I cannot give a count of the songs he has produced since 2010 to date, it’s like everything he touches turns into gold, he does big collabos that really hit the airwaves, he won a good number of big awards. I remember in Groove Awards 2011 he won so many awards during the event to an extent when he was invited to take the last award Male artist of the year he gave it to Juliani, he was really on top of his game. Juliani was neither an underdog doing big projects both solo and collabos. It was up to sometime in 2014/5 that he made a bold claim that he is not a Gospel artiste. He seemed to take his business in music seriously but then it was hard after this point to regard him as a Gospel artiste.
The narrative goes on and in the period of 2012-2014, we have something different happening. We experience a major shift in the faces we see on TV, besides Daddy Owen and Juliani. Many of these old or rather founding fathers are gone. Rufftone only did one major hit during the election period in 2013. Gospel Fathers closed shop, Fatmod and Wernono Family also closed shop, who even knows Porqupine once existed, Ringtone was part of the old guys and part of the new guys, Jog-C seems to also gone solo with the late Kaberere doing his own stuff and Red-Eye or Pastor Odulele(this guy has so many names) tries a few things here and there and eventually becomes a pastor, SK-Blue appears once in Kris Eeh Baba’s remix, then I hear he is a producer, Mbuvi is still a great artiste only that he has a sequence of doing one hit every two years. No one knows of Eagles, Kiki, Davy, Cubanotics, BABZ, Dj Josh, Harry G, and many others who took part in the early struggle.
A new breed slowly comes in and they’re not looking back, interesting how a difference of ten years could bring about a complete turn over. The new breed of artistes come thinking they will find a lot of competition but then they actually realize its a blank and signed cheque. The opportunities are all around the place. The shows are in plenty, there is real money, there is fame, they just need to put their name on it and the figure. Here is my theory, the new guys came in and found the old guys tired most of them already given up on music and worn out to guide them so the new guys did their thing without any guidance, this is on a general scope, the case could be different with individuals. So the new guys try out what works and it works and everyone is happy and we all go home happy.
Thank you for staying with me this far, to all my readers who are following this story. I hope this journey will build each one of us to appreciate music and the Gospel in it. Stay tuned in my subsequent blogs for what I think happened to the new guys. I can’t stop saying this, Read, Drop a comment and Share. Thank YOU!!!