Image courtesy of the artist.

Interview: The Evolution of Bensoul

We talk to the Kenyan musician about his new album, The Lion of Sudah, winning a Grammy award with Burna Boy, and his hopes for legalization.

Bensoul’s musical journey leading up to his debut album has not been easy. At the heart of it, his evolution from the eager, church choir kid to the Grammy Award-winning Kenyan musical prodigy has been characterised by a series of successive, biopic-worthy obstacles. As we caught up with Bensoul a few days before the premier of the album, he appears equally relaxed and excited, ready to emerge from hibernation of the isolated album-making process to share what is arguably the most anticipated Kenyan musical project of the year.

“I grew up in a musical family. My father was a musician who played the electric and bass guitar and he exposed me to a lot of music, from gospel to rumba which I consider my two main musical influences.” Though his childhood foreshadowed a promising musical career, Bensoul likens his formative experiences to a young lion banished from pride and forced to survive the relentless wilderness conditions, an analogy which forms the conceptual basis of this project.

“Eventually my father didn’t want me to pursue music. When he converted to Islam from Christianity, he banned me from using his instruments and discouraged me from playing music due to his religious complications. My mother would cover for me when I would get home late from playing music in church.”

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Photo courtesy of the artist.

Maya Amolo Wants You to Embrace Love

We talk to the rising Kenyan artist about her new single "Foundry," finding love and her upcoming album.

Maya Amolo feels more confident than ever. With her debut album around the corner and having recently been named Spotify's Fresh Finds Africa inaugural artist, the 23-year-old Kenyan singer-songwriter has a lot to feel hopeful about.

“My brand was very much being a sad girl,” she shares, referring to her last project Leave Me At The Pregame. “I thought I was so edgy but I was comfortable with that being my brand. But once I willed myself out of that mindset, I realized that my music is way more wholesome. I make happy music and I enjoy singing about love.”

Following the success of her last single "Can’t Get Enough," Maya’s latest offering "Foundry" exemplifies her growth as an artist in full mastery of her emotions. To make the smooth-jam anthem, Maya collaborated with Kenyan producers Lukxrito and DJ IV along with upcoming Ugandan artist kalibwani who features on the track. With smoldering lyrics like “let me in the shadows of your mind tonight” and “killing me softly but it’s not a crime,” Maya’s honeyed vocals showcase the enchanting qualities of romantic love that sound sweet without feeling overly sugared.

Our conversation with Maya offers a glimpse at what’s inspired this new season of tenderness as we look forward to a project that’s posed to shape the sound Kenyan R&B for years to come.

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