Who is Hip Hop?
Hip-hop is a genre of music most often characterized by a strong, rhythmic beat and a rapping vocal track. The genre originated in New York City in the 1970s as a cultural exchange among Black, Latino, and Caribbean youth and has grown into one of the most consumed genres of music in the United States.
Best Hip Hop Artist In Kenya
Although he never achieved the commercial success of some of his peers or newer entrants, Abbas is a surgical lyricist idolised for his clever wordplay.
He has been in the music industry for well over 20 years. His earlier works Nairobism and Nairoberry alongside Bamboo, showcase his skill in album-making. His 2002-2006 run saw his hard-shell raps hand Hip Hop a space in the mainstream, at least.
Perhaps the hot take of the list, and even the most controversial, but Soundcity Africa nominee Wakadinali ticks all boxes. From an underground crew that has been in the game for well over a decade now, they have exceeded expectations.
No Kenyan acts express inner-city dwellings, youth rumblings, and take on every day like Wakadinali. To break through the glass ceiling in this fashion, they have established street and mainstream credibility seamlessly.
Probably the shortest discography among the lists’ contingent, it would be blasphemous to omit him from the list. The South-C prodigy single-handedly carried urban Kenyan music with his hit songs Huu Mwaka, Mos Mos, and others into the limelight. E-Sir’s music was original and packed with substance, hence why it is highly acclaimed monumental decades after his death.
From boastful yet feel-good cuts like Saree to introspective tear-jerking numbers like Hamnitishi, the lyrical tongue twister is immortalized in Kenyan books.
The self-proclaimed G.O.A.T (greatest of all time), Nyashinski is a star act. With melodic yet poetic cadences, when he graces a microphone to rap, he does not disappoint. Coming onto the scene with crew Kleptomaniax, Nyash was a wide-eyed rapper yet to complete high school when the masses heard of him.
Nyashinski lived in Kenya until 2006, when at 21 and a member of a rap trio, Kleptomaniax, his family relocated to Delaware, US where he worked as a truck driver for 10 years until his return to Kenya to continue his music career in 2016. His Lucky You offering was a textbook performance in album curation and will be heralded as one of the best hip hop albums of the last decade.
The most awarded emcee on the list, Khaligraph Jones has been crowned Africa’s Best Rapper even by non-Kenyans.
Scoring records with some of the best emcees in the continent including Sarkodie, who is touted to be the best in Africa, Khaligraph has held his own. His machine-gun-like flow and intensity on the song have been highly adulatory. Khaligraph can make songs and conjure up freestyles in a fashion no one on the list can. His crossover ability is also potent hence why he easily ranks in the Top 5.