She would be the first to deny it, but on evidence of this project, she is Mama Africa.
Artiste: Victoria Kimani
Guests: Ice Prince, Jesse Jagz, Khuli Chana, Sarkodie, Donald, Phyno, King Kaka, Emma Nyra, Vannessa Mdee, Bucie, and Airline.
Producers: Mr Kamera, Panshak Zamini, Reinhard Tega, Sammy Gyang, Troy Picasso, Jesse Jagz, Del B, DJ Maphorisa, Nate Will, Ace Harris,
Duration: 44 Minutes
Record Label: Chocolate City (2016)
Victoria Kimani offers more than just music. She offers inclusion in identity, she projects mystery in branding, slaps sexiness as a tool for conquering, and this is because she’s a product of three cultures. Her place of birth (US), her home country (Kenya), and the home of her record company and part of her childhod (Nigeria).
All of these have created a lady who is constantly working at balancing all the forces involved in her music and self-expression. She has done this to varying success. That’s why she’ll drop the Afro-centric ‘Prokoto’, and still score some Nigerian love with the hit song ‘Show’. A good example of this on the project is the Trap-based ‘That’s Okay’ single spotting a local Nigerian lyrical infusion which reads as: “I know you mad, Baba God on my knees I pray, I beg you Lord for a better day.”
At an impressively thorough 15 tracks long – including a couple of brief but lovely demos in the shape of ‘Brenda fassie’s interlude, and the Jesse Jagzs’s assisted ‘Black Girl’ – Kimani’s debut album certainly isn’t shy about setting her out as one of the Africa’s most deserving African Afropolitan talents.
The first thing you notice is song-creation process, a diverse but cohesive affair with a dip into various parts of the continent to create the ultimate Pan-African album. There’s an intro from Nina Simone, one of most iconic of civil rights activists whose work against racial inequality resonates across Black Africa. ‘Safari’, the title track draws from Africa’s immersive House influence, which is interjected by blood-curdling chanting.
Oozing out in-between the plethora of beats that wrap around this album, it’s a magical, continent wide melding of some of Africa’s finest: Ice Prince, Jesse Jagz, Khuli Chana, Sarkodie, Donald, Phyno, King Kaka, Emma Nyra, Vannessa Mdee, Bucie, and Airline. Each of these artistes carry bring their local influences to the mix, harmonising with Kimani to give the ultimate African album.
Kimani’s style is multifaceted, as she walks along many lines, but she is most comfortable on urban sounds, which gives her mainstream edge. She exists in a modern musical landscape that has its foundations in the dingy nightclubs of Lagos, the effervescent streets of Cape Town, and the wavy Trap movements of Atlanta.
‘Lover’ rolls together the Nigerian Highlife sounds with traditional drum-led muscularity, while ‘On my D’ boasts a lush spaciousness that belies its somewhat busy production.
Kimani’s real flair, though, lies in embracing everything that that the sub-Saharan part of the continent offers and spinning it to fit her delivery. Everything falls into place, and can be enjoyed across board.
And although she brands herself to appeal to the senses in a sexy way, her music does possess a knowledge, accuracy and skill which requires old-school wisdom and inclusiveness, the likes of which can be drawn African maternal knowledge. She would be the first to deny it, but on evidence of this project, she is Mama Africa.
Rating – 3.5
3-Worth Checking Out