Only in Kenya

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ja Rule Brings G Unit Beef to Kenya

American hip-hop superstar Ja Rule arrived in Nairobi Kenya for his first ever visit on the evening of Wednesday26th July. He was here to perform at a concert and present the keys to a brand new Porsche Cayman S to a lucky winner in the Celtel Kenya World Cup Promotion. As Ja Rule walked through the international arrivals gates of Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he was welcomed with wild cheers from placard and bandana waving fans, and responded with big ups to the beautiful crowd.

He later went to his Hotel in downtown Nairobi where he unpacked several pairs of white T-shirts and blue jeans from his suitcases, plus all the beef he has with G-Unit.

Early Thursday morning, Ja Rule is said to have walked out of Florida 2000 Night Club, half a stone throw from his hotel, after the DJ played a 50 Cent track. Luckily, the DJ hadn't dedicated it to Ja Rule.

During a live radio interview with Eve D'Souza of Capital FM, Ja Rule was however evasive on his beef with 50 Cent, choosing not to talk about him.

In another radio interview, this time on Friday morning with Caroline Mutoko of Kiss 100, Ja Rule admitted there were some rough edges in his relationship with 50 Cent, but played down the rivalry saying it was silly, having been started when 50 refused to say hi when they met at a video shoot some time back.

The moment of reckoning came during Ja Rule's much publicized concert on the night of Friday 28th July at the Carnivore Gardens. The three thousand plus crowd who'd braved the cold July temperatures to come watch their hero perform were first warmed up by a cold-scattering performance from the Kenyan brother duo of Longombas. They warmed the stage for Ja Rule's DJ Delight who introduced the man everyone had been waiting for.

Ja Rule put up an electrifying performance worthy all the hype his visit to Kenya had received. The below ten degrees temperatures the crowd had been experiencing immediately shot up to about thirty as Ja Rule run up, down and across the T-shaped stage, trying to keep up with the crowd that was growing wilder and hotter with every song and move.

Halfway through his performance punctuated by wild cursing that isn't commonplace in African culture, Ja Rule shared in bitterness his low down dirty opinion of G-Unit, calling Lloyd Banks a supporter of gay n**gers, and the rest of the Unit muthaf***ing b**ches who'd stolen his style of music. His diss went on for a solid three minutes, during which goose bumps on a section of the crowd swelled in disbelief at the uncountable number of curses used in each sentence. A small section of the crowd however cheered wildly, at times reluctantly finishing curse words for Ja Rule.

Ja Rule continued with his show and performed 'F**k Ja Rule' one of the tracks off his upcoming album which he is set to release 'in muthaf***ing September or October'. He sarcastically dedicated it to all G Unit fans. Ironically, G Unit enjoys greater support in Kenya.

At the end of his one-hour performance, Ja Rule handed the keys to the Porsche Cayman S, one of only four in Africa, to Priyal Shah, daughter of Rashmi Shah who was the overall winner.

Many Kenyans were proud to have Ja Rule in Kenya. The lucky few who attended his concert felt charged to see him up close, though part of the charge fizzled out at the dissing interval. Cursing might be part of the American hip-hop culture, but many expected Ja Rule to leave his beef behind in the USA and show some respect for African culture.

Ja Rule left Kenya on Saturday 29th July, headed for Tanzania where he was slate to perform alongside Ashanti in a Clouds FM sponsored concert in Dar es Salaam on Sunday 30th July. Before stepping on stage, Ja Rule should consider Tanzanians are more cultured than Kenyans.

Kisima Reward Kenya's Finest

For many years, Kenyan musicians have been referred to as ‘idlers’, ‘school drop outs’ and ‘wannabes’. Those who’ve swam through miles of ridicule, player hating and pull-them-downs in the past year and came out strong with fine music that silenced their critics were finally rewarded at the 2006 Kisima Music Awards, held Saturday 15th July at the Carnivore Gardens in Nairobi.

Established in 1996, gone under in 1998 and resurrected in 2003, the Kisima Music Awards seek, filter out and reward the finest musicians in Kenya, giving special note to equally great performers from neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania.

The Kisima Music Awards organizers, led by Victor Mayeya, had fine details intricately woven to stage an event that is now firmly engraved in the minds of those who attended. From the wide-chested bouncers with biceps threatening to tear their black T-shirts, to the awards podium decorated like a tribal chief’s kraal, and the sound system tuned to acoustic perfection.

Kisima’s red carpet was trod upon by musicians exchanging the usual niceties, yet it was obvious deep down there was some sort of rivalry among those who’d received nominations in the same categories. Inside the Kisima Dome Tent, each table in the VIP section had the pleasure of hosting the who's who in Kenya's music industry: from the great David Amunga, a pioneer in indigenous Kenyan music, to the young but not to be undermined Jimw@t, all showing their support for the Kisima Music Awards and Kenyan music in general.

The main event started at 9.30pm, just as the event’s souvenir programmed had predicted. The event’s emcees, Pinky, Seanice, Marcus and Didge, shrugged off early hiccups in their coordination to finely steer the awards to a glorious conclusion. Backstage, musicians could be seen wiping sweat off their brows after they’d kept the event’s electricity at full wattage, with acts that sent the one thousand plus crowd off their seats and onto their feet cheering wildly. Being Kenya’s winter season, temperatures might have been at only 9 degrees outside the Kisima Dome, but inside, it was definitely high summer.

When the curtain came down at the end of the night, the brother duo of Longombas took home the most awards: Boomba Group, Social Responsibility, Best Group and Song of the Year for their hotly popular anti HIV/AIDS stigma song ‘Vuta Pumz’, which also scooped them a coveted Kora in 2005. They will make a guest appearance and performance at the Channel O Awards in South Africa later this year. Nameless followed closely with accolades in Afro Fusion, Best Male and the MTV Base sponsored Best Video for his ‘Nasinzia’ single, currently a hot favourite with many DJs and VJs. Amani, who launched her music career collaborating with Nameless in 1999, went home with three trophies for Boomba Female, Best Female and Best Collaboration for ‘Bad Boy’ which she performed with Nyashinski of the Kleptomaniax. Uganda’s Chameleon and Tanzania’s Langa were voted best in their respective countries.

The Kisima Music Awards ended at about 3am Sunday morning, with a guest performance by Juma Nature, Mheshimiwa Temba and Chege from Tanzania. They made the audience summon the little energy they had left to keep up with an energetic performance that left many gasping for breath in exhaustion.

The 2006 Kisima Music Awards had once again achieved their goal of recognizing and rewarding Kenya’s finest. The event’s organizers however know they need to start planning for next year’s now, after promising an even more colourful event.