Tee-Y Mix; 2013
Of late, it is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish the batch of popular music coming out of most parts of Africa. Artists nowadays pick from so many genres in the course of production that most of us cannot tell outright if what they are listening to is azonto, kuduro, naija-based beats, kapuka, house, soukous or even lingala etc. In fact many folk have decided to make life easier and refer to this new Pan-African sound as “afrobeats”. Simple as that. This is the stuff that appeals to the (Sub-Saharan) Africa as a whole irrespective of the language in which the music is delivered. Forward thinking local musicians are starting to adopt this sound, hoping to appeal to audiences across the Kenyan border.
Habida is clearly among this group of artists looking to snatch up a continental fan base. As early as June last year, she teamed up with UK-based afrobeats sensation Silvastone and Nigerian director Clarence Peters for Girls’ Night Out.This year, she has continued with the naija connection for her latest single, Lights Up. It is a banger all about getting down and having fun after chasing the African dream, and showing the rest of the world that we can party just as hard. The well-written lyrics build up the afro-centric mood quite well. There is some witty content thrown in there as well, such as working around the electricity blackouts that are all too common in every part of the continent. True to form, Habida properly executes the vocal duties for this track.
The track is produced by Tee-Y Mix who has worked with the likes of Iyanya and Naeto-C. Nothing can be taken away from this production. Everything is quite stellar here, from the non-generic beats to the non-generic tempo to the slight panning effect and brief instrumental surprises peppered all over the track. Lights Up has the type of addictive instrumentals that is easy to listen to and enjoy all day long. The concept for the video, directed by Mattamax, is pretty straightforward – we see Habida having one heck of a good time in a burning house along with a bunch of fire-eating performers dressed in carnival costumes and body paint. Hmm, not bad. Wait a minute! Not to be a grammar Nazi, but what’s with the typo on the title card though? Intentional? Maybe.
Kenyans, study this video well. This track is a textbook case on how to make afrobeats. Habida is very aware of the right direction to take when coming up with musical content that will appeal across the borders. Expect to hear Lights Up on dance floors all over Africa.