The year 2012 was one of the most memorable ones for music lovers in Kenya with the most ecstatic lot being the Neo-Soul lovers. This year saw the most notable list of live performances by artists in different genres, a promise of better things to come. Artists such as Erykah Badu, Jah Cure, James Ingram, Johnny Gill, Akon, Donnel Jones, Joe and Incognito are among those who held a concert in Nairobi.
As the year comes to an end, we look back at the new artists and new music that made the year 2012 such a memorable one. Our focus will be bias towards Neo-Soul, African and Jazz music genres.
Best New Album/Artist ; Neo Soul, Alternative RnB, Electric Soul
Album: Beautiful Imperfection
Our Favourite : The way I feel
Unfortunately, her 2nd album is not as emboldened with her Nigerian sounds like the debut self titled album
12. The Floacist
Album: Floetry rebirth
Our Favourite: Forever,
We all know that the duo that made up Floetry will never be the same apart. However, both Marsha Ambrosius and Floacist have been working on their single albums and in this song, floacist has teamed up with Musiq Soul Child ‘forever’.
11. Angie Stone
Album: Rich Girl
Our Favourite: Rich Girl
Angie Stone has been one of the pioneers of the Neo-Soul movement starting off as a Background vocalist for Lenny Kravitz and D’Angelo. She ventured out on her own and held her own as an amazing vocalist.
10. Me’Shelle Ndege’Ocello
Album: A tribute to Nina Simone
Our favourite: Be my Husband
It is quite a humbling gesture when a good artist decides to dedicate an album to their mentor. Me’shelle is re-introducing Nina Simone to a generation that might not know her music as much though she has influenced many artists not just in Jazz but also in RnB and Hip Hop.
9. The Heavy
Album: The Glorious Dead
Our favourite: What makes a good man
8. Robert Glasper Experiment
Album: Black Radio
Robert Glasper’s Black Radio goes back to the basics. The jazz pianist brings his signature neo-jazz backdrop to a landscape of well-known R&B and hip-hop acts from Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, Lupe Fiasco and Mos Def. His fifth album pairs jazz sensibilities with R&B stylings. Glasper serves a refreshing soundscape that stands apart from his competitors.
7. Kendra Morris
Our Favourite: Waiting (Mansta Hit)
6. Kelly Jones
Album: Electric Soul
Our favourite: Electric Soul
She is defining her own genre as Electric Soul from her debut album. Although her name is not out there yet, its only a matter of time.
4. Elle Varner
Album: Perfectly Imperfect
Our favourite: Refill
This woman can sure hold a note especially in the song ‘Refill’. We also loved her sense of style (She is into the Kitenge Fabric). Her earlier released collaboration with J.Cole ‘I only wanna give it to you’ showed us just what to expect from her new album . She does not disappoint.
3. Avery Sunshine
Album: Every* Sunshine Album
Our Favourite: All in my head
Its interesting how alot of soulful women like Angie Stone, Avery, Jill Scott and many others in the Neo-Soul genre are full figured and proud of it. Avery reminds one of Angie Stone yet she does have a sound of her own.
2. Frank Ocean
Album: Channel Orange
Our Favourite: Novacane, American Wedding
Although news of his ‘coming out’ sort of shadowed the genius behind his latest album, Frank has completely redefined Soul RnB and listening to his music makes oscilates one from conscious lyrical delivery and a renewed definition of the genre.
1. Emeli Sande
Album: Our Version of Events
Our Favourite(s): Next to me, My Kind of Love, Clown
Although there is still alot of debate online as to whether the best album this year is by Emeli Sande or Frankie Ocean, We pick Emeli due to her clarity of emotion and sound blended with a fresh groove which defies RnB makes her our best pick this year.
Best Videos for Single Releases
Labrinth – Beneath your Beautiful feat Emeli Sande
Antoine Dunn – Miss my Love and Can’t Forget
He reminds one of D’Angelo so much its intoxicating.
Kato Change feat Lisa Noah & Jaaz Odongo – Sta.Ka.To
Sauti Sol – Range Rover
Ralf Gum feat Monique Bingham – Take me to my Love