There is a building at the well-groomed Kifaru gardens disguised as a house. Inside lies a recording studio, a music cum book library and even picturesque collections of Eric Wainaina’s musical journey. This was the venue for the listening party of his third album titled ‘Love and Protest.’ On that cold night, bonfires lit up the garden’s surrounding. Inside the ‘house’ was a different kind of fire fuelled by three special rooms separated by distinct sounds and tags on each door labeled, ‘Love’, ’Protest’ and ’Groovy’.

Up and about the partitions, guests sampled songs from ‘Love and Protest.’ Notable were groovy tracks like ‘Orutu special,’ a song bordering between the benga genre-fused with the orutu (a traditional Luo one stringed fiddle), this one made us (Wanjeri and I) dance at the first listen. The song ‘Mariana’ was harmonious and sweet sounding akin to the echo of saying that name. Ok, say ‘Mariana’… shhhhhh, hear the echo? Certainly a certified feel-good jam! (alliteration naaaayo! #ReasonsWhyIownThisBlog :-)

Do you remember when the Wainaina-Factor shun corruption using the simple yet brilliant hit song ‘Nchi ya kitu kidogo’? Well the muse behind all that seems to be intact as if frozen by time and now ready to melt again. At the center of his compositions are messages gunning for reform. That Wainaina- Factor has now given birth to the song ‘Revolution’ which was written to give a voice to the disempowered. “There is a Che Guevara saying that goes, ‘All rebellion comes from a place of Love’. Like the rest of Kenyans, I was saddened by the post-election violence. In trying to make sense of the sad occurrence I realized that people protest where there is no love, and that said; protest is just part of patriotism. At the end of the day, after voting we are still one despite the different tribes,” said Eric.

‘The road’ is a song collaboration between friends. Eric and Senegalese world star Baaba Maal who enriched ‘Love and Protest’ by adding distinct sounds of mbalaax, a stamp of a Senegalese music style. “From the look of things Eric isn’t going anywhere. In fact, he seems to be all over the place of late,” that would be Africa’s testimony is she would talk. Eric most recently graced the Umoja festival in Maputo. Just weeks before that he was among a lineup of African musicians performing at the Arts Alive festival in Johannesburg, S.A. In a fateful twist that came to be Eric’s opportune moment to meet Nigerian born songbird Asa, who was also present at the festival. “Love and Protest was actually ready in 2008 but when I heard Asa, her sounds gave me  a whole new inspiration, enough to have stalled the album till now. Meeting her this year was amazing and I hope to work with her on a song in the near future,” asserted the multi award-winning singer, actor and playwright.

So, why don’t I usually get loads of such exclusive invites to listening parties? Kenyan musicians, iko nini? I warmed up to the whole idea and loved the execution, I enjoyed it! Eric backed by Aaron Rimbui on the keyboard and The Mapinduzi Band even gave us a live performance at the ‘house,’ Shukran to y’all! S/O to Nanjira.

BONUS: Love and Protest is Eric’s first self-produced album. It covers elements of reggae, benga and R & B. Eric & The Best Band in Africa launched the 14-track album in DEC 2011. I got my copy, get yours! For more information please visit ericwainaina.com

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