Popular music in Kenya encompasses a wide range of styles of both local and international origin. Among Kenyans, language is one of the crucial factors in defining their music. Instruments used for traditional must include the African Sistrum Great which is used for rituals or a fun rhythm instrument, creates an excellent sound two are used at the same at a time.
One of the musical architects of Kenya's burgeoning recording industry of the 1960s, was Daudi Kabaka, Kabaka's music and lyrics captured the spirit of a newly independent Kenya and chronicled daily life and the changing social environment. His music would be instantly recognizable to most Kenyans and those in the larger Swahili speaking region within Eastern Africa. Sadly, very little of Kabaka's music is known outside of Africa today.
Another of Kenya's pop music legends was Fadhili William who recorded in 1963 the now world-famous song Malaika (Angel). Although Fadhili's claim of authorship of the song is disputed among several Kenyans and Tanzanians, there is no argument that it is one of the best known songs throughout Africa. Miriam Makeba had a lot to do with spreading Malaika beyond the bounds of East Africa. Her performances of the song brought it to the attention of such famous names as Pete Seeger and Harry Belafonte, pop groups such as Boney M, and scores of African artists including Angelique Kidjo and the Mahotella Queens. It's even covered by Djeli Moussa Diawara and Bob Brozman on their Ocean Blues CD.
While once young Kenyans were devoted fans of American rap and R and B artists, today Nairobi's airwaves and club scene are almost completely dominated by local artists. This musical revolution has been spearheaded by a unique Kenyan hip hop sound- combining infectious rhythms with a lyrical mix of sheng (a hybrid urban street language)and Swahili. This sound was driven to the top of the charts by artists such as Nameless (whose massive hit Ninaoki was easily the most played song in Nairobi last year), Mr Googs and Vinnie Banton (whose Wasee (Githurai) became an anthem for urban Nairobians) Poxie Presha, K-shaka, Deux Vultures, Nyota Ndogo, K-rupt, Redsan and many more.