A studied lawyer, Chris Kariuki took his hobby of music quite seriously, from the early ‘80s right up to his death in 2001. His earliest recordings while barely out of college were with the boogie-funk Gravity who recorded two singles for the CBS label. In the ‘90s he took up the artist name of Njoroge Benson (or ‘Joroge’) and recorded two singles, right at the very end of the vinyl era in Kenya. The dancehall-inflected ‘Gichichio’ and its b-side ‘Nyinyukia’ came out on an obscure label, Odyssey records. During Kariuki’s Gravity days, boogie funk may have been the sound of the day, but by the early ‘90s the Nairobi dancefloors were tuned to (American and European) house, hip hop, dancehall and everything in between. A series of locally released compilation LPs with foreign hits is a reminder of that. ‘Nyinukia’ is one of only a handful of Kenyan songs from the era that reflect that sound, including the keyboard stabs that are very similar to the piano used on Ultra Naté’s 1991 hit album ‘Blue notes in the basement’, and about a thousand other house songs from the early ‘90s. The drum pattern borrows a bit from the new jack swing groove. Njoroge Benson’s lyrics here are in English, but the title and chorus (‘Nyinyukia’ is Kikuyu meaning ‘take me home’) indeed take it home.
A) Njoroge Benson ‘Gichichio’|
B) Njoroge Benson ‘Nyinyukia’
In the exciting evolution of Benga the Kikuyu artists implemented a fast paced rhythm, duo vocal harmony with several layers of guitar comp, melody and a minimalstic steady bumpin base/drum beat with little variation. This receipt seem to have worked as there are several Benga tunes perfected in the same style, often new incarnations of the same melody but with different vocals. Peter Kigia (Wa Ester) had a big hit with the B-side of his own privately financed MPP label. Rickard Masip made us aware that the artist is still ongoing with this youtube clip. Enjoy the original release from 1991! Who said the 90’ties was boring?
|B)Chania River Boys ‘Reke Tumanwo Biuu’|