Muthoni The Drummer Queen - MDQ (Album Review 1/10): Nai Ni Ya Who ·
Muthoni Music Entertainment/Sand Stone Studios; 2013
Dir. Tedd Josiah
The method through which Muthoni The Drummer Queen has made her album accessible to fans has made MDQ one of the most anticipated Kenyan hip hop albums to be released in the last quarter of 2013. She’s currently releasing a song from the album each Friday since 18th October through cellphone-based downloads on Standard Group’s entertainment website in a pioneering partnership with the media house.
Even as the project may be experiencing challenges of its own, it has opened our eyes on new possibilities and opportunities for artists out there as they interact with corporates. As a result, it’s perhaps only Wangechi’s Art 19, which comes out a day before Muthoni concludes the project on 20th December, which has come close to the level of hype her album has received. We’ve decided to keep up with her journey through 10 mini-articles that will review each song as it is released, starting with Nai Ni Ya Who today.
MDQ is primarily a hip hop album with some deviations here and there to stay true to Muthoni’s wide musical influences as seen in her first album. What stands out from the get go throughout the album however is how different and varied the production is courtesy of Switzerland-based producers GR! and Hook who whipped up the beats at Tedd Josiah’s brand new Sand Stone Studios.The results, my friends, is anything but monotony.
As the title suggests, Nai Ni Ya Who is a celebration of the gritty and glamourous stuff that embody Nairobi as well as all the subtle ironies of life facing its 3 million or so inhabitants as they go through “the struggle”. In her verses, Muthoni lyrically weaves through the city and paints a realistic picture of what goes on from the malls in leafy surburbs and yuppie-filled musical gatherings to the back streets and dark alleys of downtown. There are a few gems here and there: “Utashtuka buda, kumbe sex ni lugha/ Mpaka machali wa campo wanapush na macougar… Nai ina wenyeji but pia ina wenyewe/ So wewe unaweza decide kama we ni kuku au mwewe / Wewe decide ka una rada ama unawaste time…”
She raps over a delicious beat spiced up by some well manipulated vocals from what I thought was a traditional Maasai song (because Nairobi gets its name from a Maasai phrase anyway). Turns out they went out and sourced those vocals from Samburu women traditional singers for that beat which creates a very unique backdrop to the song and well worth the effort.
The video is directed by Tedd Josiah and does a good job of matching the song’s lyrical content. It creates a mood of traveling through various parts of the city from early in the morning all the way to very late in the night as Tedd plays around with light and dark colours. There’s also an interesting dark cloud above Muthoni as she raps in the CBD (perhaps it is something to do with making it rain?).