I would like to put a disclaimer out, if I mention your name on this article it is not a personal attack am just using you as an example. First, as a fan of Kenyan music am happy to see more ladies releasing music, acting and contributing to the growth of the Entertainment industry in Kenya. Music, art and acting generally show case our diverse culture, outlooks and tell the stories of Kenyans, by Kenyans from a Kenyan perspective. It also showcases our heritage.
Im writing this article not only as an appreciation of female artists in Kenya but also to point out some issues that if addressed will go a long way in breaking the â€˜Plateauâ€™ that the Kenya Entertainment industry seem to have been stuck on despite increase in the money spent on videos, the internet and Lupitaâ€™s success, among others, in the International arena.
- Music Content: Kenyan female artist need to work on â€˜storytellingâ€™. The content being produced by Kenyan female artists does not wholly encompass the issues facing Kenyan women. Granted, â€˜loveâ€™ songs and â€˜overly sexualizedâ€™ songs garner view ship ,songs talking about issues that face Kenyan women is what will get you international recognition. A good storyteller can sing a song about effects of rape, effects of child-brides, female genital mutilation, poverty, and lack of sanitary towels and issues of social /political injustices through song without being inhuman and help the society understand these issues. Music and acting is about showmanship, a good-story teller can showcase an issue s which affect women. Kenyan women like all women, face similar challenges all women in the world face. An example of a good female story-teller is Lady Gaga. Lady Gagaâ€™s song â€˜Paparazziâ€™ talks about how paparazziâ€™s intrude on live of celebrities. Another example is Omawumi, â€™If you ask meâ€™ is about a young girl being molested by her father, Lizha James â€˜Stop trafficoâ€™ bring awareness to child trafficking, Yemi Alade â€˜Johnnyâ€™ on how women get deceived by sly men. All the musicians in Kenya should have a song, or two, talking about social issues ranging from stress, weight gain to heavier content such as abuse.
- Appearance: In media and entertainment looks is everything. If you are musician, actress or in a job that requires you to be in front of a camera, you should put some efforts your appearance. I have yet to see an ugly female artist from Kenya. All of you are pretty good-looking. The only problem is some of you look like you need to look â€˜refinedâ€™. By refined I mean, you need to look like you go to the gym. How do you look like you go to the gym? You go to the gym or get a regular workout routine. This is in addition to healthy eating and reducing stress. Healthy eating, drinking plenty of water and having a regular work routine will give you that â€˜lookâ€™ of freshness, youthfulness and confidence that will ooze out from the video. To look good takes a combination of things. It does not have to be expensive. To reduce stress you have to have learn how to relax by watching TV, sleeping in, reading a book, visiting your grandma and laughing at yourself from time to time. Take time out to rejuvenate.
- Clothes: African prints are not for everyone. Not everyone looks good in boy-shorts and not everyone looks good in trousers. You need to get a look. All of you need to look at your pictures. Then look at pictures of people who have same body shape as you. Look at pictures of people with the same skin tone as you. Africans come in different shades. There those who have the same skin shade as Nicki Minaj, Lupita, Kerry Washington, Victoria Kimani, Omotola, Yvonne Nelson among others. Look for colors that compliment you and enhance your appearance. These are looks you should be wearing during your interviews and shows. They donâ€™t have to be expensive.
- As for interviews you need to look professional because no-one wants to interview sloppy looking people. Also, practice how answer questions. Some artists in Kenya go for interviews very unprepared. You need to prepare for interviews. You canâ€™t start coming up with answers on live TV or radio because it is excruciating for viewers to watch. Itâ€™s not good TV. Itâ€™s not good radio. Be prepared with answers .Questions like what inspired your video, what inspired your song are questions you should already have answers to. If you are not sure what to expect in interviews call the TV stations and ask them to give you a sample of the questions they will ask you. If they tell you they donâ€™t know, itâ€™s random, cancel the interview. Generally, they will provide you with a list of questions they ask guests, if you request them. In addition, look at interviews that other artists have done and how they answered the questions. Always be prepared.
- Hair and Skin: Weaves are not supposed to look like a â€˜thingâ€™ on your head. Your hair need to look presentable, clean and neat. Always carry a mirror and make sure you smell good. Take a shower and if you sweat come up with ways you can freshen up quickly and effectively. You may need to carry a face towel in a plastic bag and deodorant and small perfume in your pursue.
- Shoes: Every woman needs a pair of comfortable shoes. Not plenty of shoes, good shoes. I noticed BeyoncÃ© does her dance routines in the same shoes she wears during her live performances. Invest in good-looking and comfortable shoes.
- Choreography: Shaking your buttocks and twerking is not â€˜realâ€™ dancing. You are performers, meaning you need to be able to do â€˜actualâ€™ dancing. When I look at Kenyan music videos, I see a lot of dance moves that I have already seen in the club. The dances seem to always find their way to Kenyan music videos instead of the other way round. Your music videos need to influence the dancing in clubs. People should watch your videos and adopt dancing styles from your videos. Tap in your creative juices and make up dance styles. In addition, take some dance classes and learn some dance basics like how to do a â€˜PliÃ©â€™ .The dancing that I see in Kenyan video is not smooth. You can acquire the smoothness by learning the basics of dancing and doing some Yoga. You can get dance videos on YouTube that demonstrate the basics of dancing.
- Song Writers: Some of you need song writers. For example the emcee-rap artist Kush Tracey. This is clearly a talented young lady with raw energy and flow. To be a good rap artist you need to be able to have â€˜contentâ€™, â€˜flowâ€™(rhythm and rhyme) and â€˜deliveryâ€™. Kush Tracey has flow and delivery .She needs to work on her content. Hence, desperately needs a good â€˜ghostâ€™ writer to shadow her because that is the only way her content will improve. Kenya female artists need to find good song writers who can work with them. Men have traditionally written very good songs for women .A lot of songs by Adelle are written by men. Neyo writes for BeyoncÃ©, Rihanna. Nicki Minaj songs are normally co-writer by male rapper artists. Lil Kim rap songs were written by lyricists who were men. So, how can get good music writers? You can advertise on your social media accounts for example. In addition, you have to come up with a written agreement on how you share the money you make, in case the song is a hit.
- Know your value: Make sure you know your value as an artist and know your rights. For example, if you have a hit song, demand to be paid what men who have hit songs get paid. Donâ€™t cheapen yourself. If they recognize your worth, they will have no problem paying you. If not move on. You are business woman and producing music is not cheap. You need money to do videos, buy clothes and do other things. Know your worth. Do your research both online and get information, one-on â€“one, from other artists when you meet them. Find out how other artist gets paid, how they get paid, what information is contained in the deals they make. Donâ€™t be afraid to ask question. You canâ€™t get answers for questions that you did not ask. Speak up.
- Last but not least, donâ€™t feel the pressure to release music videos for all your songs. A lot of international artist like Nicki Minaj began by putting out the audios for their music on YouTube without videos. In one interview, she actually said the video of the song â€˜Your Loveâ€™, was released because of the number views online and the interest she saw people had in the song. She was originally not planning to release a video for that song because she did not consider it a bona fide rap song; in addition she didnâ€™t think it would be a hit. If your audio is good and the song is a hit, then you make a video. This is not only cheaper; it also gives you a feel of how your fans receive your song. If your music is received as a family type song, you can adjust your video accordingly. This is until you reach the level of an international artist; in that case you can realize whatever you want. All in all release your music and gauge the response. Feel free to write and record your music. If Kenya producers demand too much money and rights to your music, find other producers to work with you. Donâ€™t be naÃ¯ve. If you wrote the song you own it, make sure you record it and post it online first before you record it in the studio. YouTube will be have the time stamp .
By Just another Kenyan