Archive for February, 2012


With a voice unshakable and unmistakable; Anthony Hamilton’s singing has the power to make the blind see. At least his soul. He’s the deeper John Legend. They both share what I love to call the Church Voice–a matchless ability of fusing soul and spirituality in their music in a way that appeals to both the gospel and secular music industries.

R&B has been drowning and seeking help since the start of the new millennium; and starting 2003, Anthony has been playing his part in the rescue mission. “Back To Love” is his fifth album released in December 2011. I already fell for it head over heels and now I am completely convinced that the last sign of the apocalypse will be the halt of Anthony Hamilton’s animate lyricism and soul.

“Back To Love” is a show of his steady commitment to soul music. To consistently come out in honesty as he does, and still be accepted and applauded, in a decade hungry for trashy Riri and Maybach music-ego rappers, is what I adore most about Anthony. A family man married with kids Vs Grammy award-nominated singer with a clean-cut image–his double stance is suave.

“Who’s loving you”, is a man’s in-depth chat with the planets in pursuit of finding out why the love of his life is with someone else. Other songs in the album include praise to women, an account of self-realization and prayer to God–most of which are packaged in an upbeat tempo. The dozen songs are a great party-or-kick-off-your-shoes-and-relax-your-feet compilation. Babyface co-writes and produces three of which deliver part of the album’s contemporary soul reminiscent of the 90’s musical thunder.

1. Back to love 3.20

R&B and neo soul at its best, this is a beautiful title track entrée. Most of us have experienced stormy relationships. In this song Anthony sings about one that needs God’s intervention for restoration. “How will we get us back to love? I want us to fall in love again,” he sings. Really love that Maxwell jazzy-quiet storm feel in this one. If you still have left the tiniest of hope in falling in love, again–this one is for you.

2. Writing on the wall 3.26

Contemporary R&B bordering on a hip hop beat spiced up with some horns, this one will make you bop your head and do a little jig. A continuation to the first song’s story, it’s a man’s assertion in rising above his fear of not loving. His relationship’s wall is jumbled mostly by people gossiping him and his partner, so he sings, “I don’t wanna listen, as I am grown and it’s my life.” If you ever had haters who couldn’t stand seeing you happy with someone else, fuck what they say, only thing you should hear is your heart.

3. Woo 3.16

Oh this is a hard stepping killer, replay everyday! Every ensemble in it makes me believe that the babe Anthony is singing about was sure fly as hell. “I aint’ never seen a girl so bad, it feels so good,” he sings–witty pickup line if you ask me fellas ;-) Here I applaud Babyface for honoring the 90’s music feel. With a slightly slower tempo Woo’s spirit is inversely proportional to Earth, Wind & Fire’s ‘I love music.’

4. Pray for me 4.39

Another Babyface classic. I like the story. A man distraught after breaking up with his lady sings a prayer to God asking him to simply bring her back. Babyface’s voice in the back ground vocals almost make it sound like he was featured inn the song. There are situations when nothing else is left to say other than a prayer. Really love where Hamilton sings, “If you take me back I will be so good even Oprah would be jealous!” LOL.

Other songs in the album include the very SEXY Jill Scott-ish-groovy-sounds of “Best of me”, a serenade to a beloved marveling at the power of sharing life’s litu pleasures. “Never Let Go” feat Keri Hilson is a fantastic duo yet a waste of the album’s only chance of a collabo. Keri’s crispy flat voice just doesn’t complement Anthony’s. If I had to pick candidates for this spot, it would be Melanie Fiona, Chrisette Michelle or Beyonce. It’s somewhat awkward that the album’s certified baby making jam “I’ll wait for you to fall in love” has an abstinence theme. Que-ce que se passe la ba?

12. Life has a way 4.13

This song is a distant relative to “Salt” by Lizz Wright. Smooth jazz marking a beautiful finale and my best song in the album. I appreciated it’s message and soul. Antony takes the persona of a man who just found his life’s meaning. He sings about how after thinking he knew it all, he still found out that there is more room to grow as, “life humbles you down”. The message in this one is universal and simply an emphasis on always remaining humble, no matter what. I am down for Antony’s work of genius. This album will either help you get back to love or uphold the live-and-love-life policy. Enjoy!

BONUS: Anthony reveals the inspiration behind my favourite song, turns out he has a special spot for it too :-)

Best things in life are free. 98% of that statement is true, see in 2009 I had never heard of Rateng’ band. So a ‘free of charge’ sign on their concert cum album launch poster was what bought me in. At the end of the night I got myself the band’s debut album, ‘Thumology’. Little did i know that simply tucking it into my bag was the start of what would become my insatiable love for their music and certainly a voracious one for the band’s then composer and lead vocalist’s music–Winyo.

Over two years later and he still sounds crispy-good. Now an accomplished singer/songwriter and guitarist, Winyo has had successful international tours and recognition as the only Kenyan & two-time finalist in the Radio France Internationale (RFI) Discoveries Music Awards.

‘Benga Blues’ is Winyo’s solo debut–an album oozing a rich display of his love for Benga. Singing in Luo, Swahili and Kikuyu, you will additionally hear loads of the bass guitar fused in acoustic sounds of Taarab, R&B and Jazz. I am lucky to have gotten a sneak copy of the album from Winyo last year. Trust me, it’s great, smooth and relaxing–my mum loves it! I haven’t seen us jointly enjoy an album like this–well since Sauti Sol, Whitney, Billy Ocean and Skeeter Davis. To all those who don’t comprehend much of Luo, chill out. If you can jam to the likes of Diogal and Lokua Kanza, trust me Winyo is right for you.

1. Odongo 3.24

Upbeat and beautiful acoustic opening to the album. This is a confessional song to a beloved called Odongo. Winyo takes the persona of a woman in love with this man to an obsessive extent of always singing songs of him. Even while brewing tea and fetching water by the river.

2. Nakupenda 6.32

Definitely a favourite. The bare mix of shakers, acoustic drums and piano in verse one creates for an alluring intro. This is again a song to a darling saying, “Look inside you, when you realize that I love you–you will love me back.” Some serious mind-fucking-love right there.

3. Gari Teri 7.00 ( The car will take you)

This is real Benga, also a killer cover to Rateng’ Band’s original. All the guitars seem to be outdoing themselves in this one. Love Winyo’s incessant chants, ‘Romna romna baby’ in Luo means ‘receive me baby.’ This is a wise song dedicated to all ladies, single or hitched. It cautions that one day you will get into a car and leave your home to another one–marriage. Never forget that a home must be built under the foundation of respect and humility, even in the face of shortcomings. The song’s two climaxes render it very danceable at a live gig. Saliva would go all ape on this one–hell i would dance and shout to this on top of a roof top!

5. Nya Chula 7.07

There is a place called Chula so Nya Chula is a lady who hails from this region. This is a song about Nya Chula, a village woman who could not quench her heart’s thirst for money and dreams of moving to Nairobi. Winyo takes the persona of her husband, he sings cajoling her to relax and sit still right next to him. For if she does their home could make babies. Is Winyo a story-teller or what? Really love the part where he sings, “Ngima mi dwaro ohinga” (I can’t sustain the kind of life you want to live). This song is a caution that if and when two people decide to settle down together, their lifestyle demands should merge into one. The song’s climax has a Lingala beat. I can already picture Wanjeri, Marcus and I seriously getting down to this one on the dance floor!

6. Kimani 4.36

If my Kikuyu didn’t fail me, this is a song about a gentleman called Kimani. It’s a cheer-up song urging Kim to keep his head up despite life’s ups and downs, for there will be a better day. Shall I also award this as the first afro-acoustic fantastic Kikuyu song? Not taking any no’s.

8. Yaona Yoo 6.14 (Open way for me)

This is a very beautiful song–my best in the album actually. Not too sure if it’s the shakers fused in the acoustic guitar and soft drums or Winyo’s butterscotch-voice … Everything in this one just makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. The song is a dedication to the one who got away saying, ‘I can tell you a secret, everything you do even in laze still pleases me so I sing through your way, stupidly hoping that you will let me through’. Deep stuff and a special song to the ones we never got over.

10. Gikalo 5.27 (They will pass)

My mum particularly loves this one, I think because she has witnessed all these kind of dramas in shagz. This song has stories of a typical village. Brothers fighting over land, women undressing in protest in the open—a taboo, mean gossiping and talk. In the song Winyo takes the persona of the society’s mirror that marvels at how friendships can turn into rivalry. Most of us can attest to this and the un-related fact that Winyo is a rock sitting gracefully on the Kenyan contemporary Benga scene.

With 13 tracks ‘Benga Blues’ is an outstanding album worth your money, time and life’s lessons kitty. It teaches on virtues like humility, kindness, patience and temperance.

The album was released in Europe last year. A Kenyan release is expected sometime this year. I will certainly be there tagging alongside mother. For more info visit http://www.ketebulmusic.org

BONUS: Read on Ten Mins With Winyo, a feature I filed for ARISE Magazine. And a throwback track–Ukoo Flani MM feat. Winyo 

“Why are you still single?”–The dreadful formulaic question explored all year round but with an emphasis on the period around Valentine’s Day. Who said February is the month of love? It is Black history month. As a matter of fact, love and Black history are two things that should be celebrated all year–blog post for another day.

Back to matters relationships–most often than not the person inquiring on whether you are single will not be asking you out; neither will they be providing you with a solution. They are just prying. And you don’t like it. No one likes questions with the potential of making them have frightful thoughts of dying alone-and-single. Well, I don’t.

While recently window-shopping with a friend, a simple conversation led him to ask me that damning question. And just like I always carry my lip gloss, I never miss that formulated answer, “Haven’t found the right guy”. To my surprise he hit back and said, “You don’t find a right guy, you make a guy right”—and that ladies and gentlemen, forms the basis of this post.

Think about it, a majority of single women’s scapegoat for singlehood is the search or wait for the right guy.  But how many women are in the business of making guys right? We know that most guys are already taken, hardly by zombie invasions but commitments like mpango wa kandos, marriage and bromance if not the gay world. Question left to ask; of the residue of single men out here is there still a right one? As the only princess of your throne, you’ve got a good queue of frogs to kiss but it can get irksome. So just how do you pick a guy?

Simply wanting the right guy is like a hungry person going into a self-service food joint and expecting to be served by a waiter. There is a minimal possibility that you might get served. It’s however common sense that you should serve yourself even though at times such joints miss signs with instructions. That’s the analogy for grasping on a new relationship with a guy (who might still not be right). Taking the risk is like carrying your own tray of food at the restaurant. If you are hungry, take it. If you drop it, your fault. If you reach your table and have a satisfactory meal, your win.

I figure mid-twenties are almost identical to the vagabond loveless years of early twenties. However they are also times when you can’t keep walking around town hungry looking for a five-course meal while you can grab yourself a quick hotdog that will make you BOP (burp out loud–just invented that acronym) and smile at the dog’s unexpected satisfaction–we are still drifting on the analogy and some additional pun here.

I tasked four of my friends, all male–to provide black roses with pointers on how to make a guy right. All names have been changed to my four male fantasies, cool ey? Before we get into steps to making a guy right; what defines the so-called right guy? Most guys cited that there isn’t really ‘a right guy’ other than the imperfect one who you find to share with even the slightest of compatibility. So here goes (could apply to making her right too):

1. A little acceptance goes a long way

Legit rock stars never convert into country music or anything resembling such opposites. By the same virtue–football, toys and cars will occasionally take precedence over you. If you can comprehend that what a man loves is what he loves, then you wouldn’t keep fighting with Thierry Henry for attention. Same way your man would never complain that you spend too much time gossiping with your girls. Both men and women need some kind of therapy.

“Accepting someone’s inherent flaws and still living with them is love”, said Blair Underwood.

2. Seduction & competence

There must have been a reason why Powerpuff-girls-city of Townsville elected their Mayor for the position. That’s despite the fact that he hardly ever does anything. Well other than calling on his gorgeous and proficient assistant, Miss Bellum. Even without a head (Yes), she is sexy and always gets ahead in practically doing everything for the Mayor. Your man is the mayor. Be the alluring Bellum and don’t forget competency while you are at it. You will love the results.

“A woman has the biggest role in making a man. Women have so much power, if only they knew,” said Terrence Howard.

3. Trust & Play then Pray.

Trust & Play does sound like a condom ad right? On that note good sex will make him stick right on you if not by you. And what is good sex?—blog post for another day. Let’s just say that confidence, humour and the mind should be the underlying factors. A man needs affirmation via your trust. Stop snooping his twitter and text messages, get a life or take a hike. Even better give him space. If you do, even when you are away, on the hike–he will behave :-) When he does wrong scold him like a high pedigree dog, not a mongrel. If he does right, reward him. At the end of it all—pray. God does listen + most men would use a spiritual woman.

“We are not stupid, so don’t tell us this is a gift—just do stuff, we will figure out everything else ourselves,” said Michael Ealy.

4. Respect

It should be treated like a game of boomerang. A man who respects his mother and sisters will probably respect you too and need your respect right back. Money and other worldly possessions will never buy respect so the pilgrimage to the ‘right man’ status starts from the moment you make him understand that he must earn it. In addition respect goes far beyond how to treat a person or a subject matter. It’s how you regard their property, what they treasure, friends, favourite things etc.

“A man who respects you will appreciate your lifestyle, that’s what a woman needs”, posed Biko Adema.

*Parting shot*

Valentine’s Day-event organizers will pop up on a yearly basis running around town helter-skelter trying to make you pity your single self. Even much longer will the damning ‘Why are you still single?’ question persist. If you wish to resist you now have some tips. If you will have found a guy (or a lady) for yourself, celebrate love all year round and let’s hope that they will ‘treat you right’—my new found definition of the right partner :-)

Special thanks to my friends & voices behind Adema, Terrence, Blair & Michael.

I want to be free–to feel the sea when I stand close to it. I want to find closure even when I can’t see the future. I want to believe in myself even when I fall. If I don’t have anything at all, I want to dream at all costs. For what’s it all for if I cant be happy? I want to seek the Lord’s guidance in all my days. That even in my heydays I may remain in serenity and humility. I want to find spirituality and the meaning beneath our individuality. I want to understand sexuality. I want to stand in the rain and feel the pain of the clouds for they cry too. I want to look around and not search for anything for it’s all before my blinded eyes waiting for me to be free.

I want to be free–to be art. For nothing will ever bruise or hurt me. I will be what you perceive me to be. For even I don’t know who I am–I am just human. In my art I want to be conceptual while at the same time contextual. My medium will be inspiration and not you. But if you stir my emotions then so be it, I will give you more. I want to be prolific. I will not be tied down to anything specific but diversity. So I want to sin, with you if you wish. Create and experience a city of hues with you. You might be as lost and unsure as I am but fate will ensure that we are set free.

Even when I am blind, I want to be free–to paint beautiful colours. I want a love that binds me to God. One that lies between me and just one man–his eyes will tell it all. I want to enjoy life, rip its fruits in no haste. I want to taste life’s pleasures like your lips and spicy tea. Chase after the suns rays, enjoy the wines of the great and eat food from your plate. I want a peace of mind. The kind that grants me the bravery to ask for things and not be afraid of getting nothing. For what’s a man, snap!-woman, with nothing if she’s got trust in herself? Probably everything & free :-)

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