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5 Artists You Should Know: Kenya

5 Artists You Should Know: Kenya

With a variety of regional languages, ethnic groups, and geographical environments, Kenyan music has a complex history. There is a diversity of folk music, sung most frequently in Swahili or native languages. Traditional Kenyan music included instruments and costumes, and was mostly passed down through word of mouth. Bongo Flava, which originates in nearby Tanzania but is also spoken in Swahili, has gained popularity. From reggae and hip hop to Benga, it is impossible to pin Kenyan music down to one genre. 

In our ongoing series 5 Artists You Should Know, we introduce local artists from regions all over the world. We’re very excited to share these five rising artists in Kenya that showcase the country’s diversity and global growth: Blinky Bill, Muthoni Drummer Queen, Xenia Manasseh, Caleb Awiti and Nyashinski.

Blinky Bill

Bill Sellanga, known as Blinky Bill, is an artist, producer and DJ. Born in Nairobi, he began his musical career as a co-founder of the art collective group Just A Band — which is regarded as a pioneer of Kenya’s alternative music scene. 

As a solo artist, Blinky has released three albums titled We Cut Keys While You Wait (2016), We Cut Keys 2 (2024) and Everyone’s Just Winging It And Other Fly Tales (2018). 

“The rest of the world doesn’t really know [East Africa] for music,” Blinky told Okay Africa in an interview. “But I do feel like [it] is the next frontier for African music, because we do things a bit differently.”  

City: Nairobi, Kenya

Follow on Instagram: @blinkybillmusic 

Muthoni Drummer Queen

Born and raised in Nairobi, Muthoni Drummer Queen is a musician and entrepreneur. She began performing in university, where she put on her own shows. She subsequently released her debut album, The Human Condition, in 2009. Her latest EP, Moonsoon, was released in 2024.

Her sound blends singing, rapping, drumming and social commentary with colorful live performances. Aside from music, Muthoni is the founder of two Kenyan music festivals: Blankets & Wine and Africa Nouveau. 

City: Nairobi, Kenya

Follow on Instagram: @muthonidrummerqueen 

Caleb Awiti

Caleb Awiti is a Kenyan-born artist based in Canada. In 2020, Awiti released his first single “Ex’cuses.” Soon after, he released his debut album, Ex-Tape. “Khartoum,” his newest single, was released earlier this year. With a distinctly R&B sound, Awiti is considered a breakthrough artist of Mombasa, his hometown. His next album Mombasa’s Lover Boy is planned for an April 26, 2024 release.

City: Mombasa, Kenya

Follow on Instagram: @calebawiti 

Xenia Manasseh

Singer-songwriter Xenia Manasseh was born in Nairobi and graduated from Berklee College of Music with a degree in Music Business and Management. Her first EP Fallin’ was released in 2019, and debuted at #1 on the Kenyan iTunes R&B/Soul charts and #2 in all genres. Two years later, Manasseh released her second EP Maybe, which was selected as the Editor’s Choice on Apple Music. In 2023, Manasseh released her debut album LOVE / HATE Pt. 1

City: Nairobi, Kenya

Follow on Instagram: @xeniamanasseh 


Nyashinski is a Kenyan rapper and singer whose career began as a member of the hip-hop trio Kleptomaniax. He began making music independently in the 2010s. In 2020, Nyashinski released his debut solo album, Lucky You, highlighting his lyrical and compositional skill of creating up-beat songs and also aggressive street tracks. Most recently, Nyashinski has been working on a 5-track EP titled Good Old Days, which was released in January 2024. His sound combines afro-pop and hip-hop.

City: Nairobi, Kenya

Follow on Instagram: @realshinski

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