Kelele Records; 1997
Before T-Pain literally took over the music world with his auto-tune vocals and before Redsan made a name for himself with his near-perfect lyrical delivery in Jamaican patois, Kenyan artist Hardstone had already made effective use of both devices years before they became a thing. His blend of ragga, reggae, R&B and hip hop combined with his lyrical delivery in Kikuyu, Swahili and Jamaican patois translated in his 1997 Tedd Josiah produced debut album Nuting But De Stone becoming an instant hit and commanding massive airplay on radio.
The one song off Nuting But De Stone that dominated airwaves in the late 90s was Uhiki, particularly the Pinye remix. Despite being what can be considered as the bonus track of the album, the remix completely eclipsed all the other tracks, including the original version and has now become the first thing on any Kenyan’s mind when you mention Hardstone. As a predictable result, it is extremely difficult to find the original version online at present, save for this grainy low quality snippet. Such was the success of the remix that it featured on a Putumayo World Music compilation album called African Groove in 2003.
A significant portion of the appeal of the remix can be attributed to the fact that it heavily sampled the Marvin Gaye’s 1982 smash hit Sexual Healing.
This must have been inspired by Keith Sweat’s remix of his very popular tune Twisted which had been released slightly earlier in 1996. The Flavahood remix of Twisted also samples Sexual Healing in pretty much the same way Pinye did on the Uhiki remix.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It’s about time we took a step back and re-appreciated the uniqueness of Hardstone’s debut album, Uhiki aside. The success of the remix overshadowed all the other interesting, out-of-the-box and pioneering approaches that went into creating the other tracks. Stay tuned for an album review soon.