Buttery bass and sultry vocals Nairobi.
Jinku, known to his friends as Jacob Solomon, featured in the latest edition of XLR8R+, which aims to shine a light on Nairobi, the Kenyan city where a new generation of artists is bringing a palette of fresh, colorful sounds to a region once dominated by benga, a type of pop music that emerged in the 1940s.
While electronic instruments have long been part of Kenyan music production, it’s only recently that these electronic tracks have found a local following, and this is encouraging younger artists to join in, stretching boundaries and inciting experimental music that in the past had seemed unfathomable.
Solomon’s route into music was through Saint Evo, a DJ-producer hailing from the savannah plains of Kajiado County, for whom he designed artwork. After watching how Saint Evo produced, he was given a copy of FL Studio, before moving into Ableton. That’s when he became infatuated with African sounds, in particular African chants and percussion.
“I like the percussion and the movement; the off-ness of the beats,” he says. “That’s what gives the song’s energy. It’s an ebb and flow; release and anticipation.” He’s since been adding African sounds to western music, in particular R&B and hip-hop, creating a genre he calls tribal downtempo. He’s also known as a founding member of EA Wave, a collective of artists that combine traditional east African elements with new genres.
To celebrate this community, we asked Jinku to present two artists on his radar, namely Nu Fvnk, and RVMP, whom he connected with through Soundcloud. He also shared two of his favorite unreleased tracks, namely “Barda,” a straight-up percussive jam in collaboration with trumpeter Samson Maiko; and “Jimmi’s Cloud,” a psychedelic jam session with two of his EA Wave members: Nu Fvnk on guitar and Hiribae on drums. Now, after providing an Ableton project of “Barda,” he’s delivered an XLR8R podcast, which he has peppered with exclusives from both him and local artists. Press play for one hour of buttery smooth bass and sultry vocals from one of Nairobi’s rising stars.
01. What have you been up to recently?
To be honest, finishing music! Covid really messed with my flow; I really loved going out and would let that energy feed into my music. I am in a calmer environment so I am digging into a backlog of records and just churning out tunes. I am finishing an album for my friend Tihane, she is an amazing soul singer and we cut up 21 tracks together, placing the polish on that. I made a promise and I want to fulfil that before the end of this year.
02. What have you been listening to?
My Spotify Discover weekly is a boss! I’m finding so many gems on there. I recently found this singer called Cosha from Dublin. Her album, Mt. Pleasant, is bananas! I had to include one of the songs in my mix.
03. Where and when did you record this mix?
I compiled the tunes in my living room at my apartment in Råcksta, Sweden on Saturday, May 14. I recorded it in my studio in Årstaberg.
04. What can the listener expect?
I think it’s a pretty romantic mix—buttery smooth. Even the bass is smooth, and there’s sultry vocals weaving in and out. It also showcases EA Wave’s music and you get a sense of where we fit sonically in a global context.
05. How did you go about choosing the tracks that you’ve included?
I let the songs play in the background, and the ones that grabbed me remained. Cooking food and listening at a low volume was the litmus test. If I reached out and turned up the volume, the song made the list.
I also included a lot of my collective’s music, to showcase the NuNairobi sound. Ukweli’s “Silaha” is a stand out for me. My friends hold on to such great music and reaching out to them and asking for exclusives has shown me the growth and depth they are at now in their craft.
06. Where do you imagine it being listened to?
It’s very calming but the end really brings the energy up, lifting your mood. It’s a great morning mix to listen to before you go to work, school, or whichever mission you have. It’s coffee through your stereo!
07. What’s next on your horizon?
I’ve got Passenger 555, the album with Karun, dropping on June 3, then I’ve got a slow house single and a music video on June 17. Finally, The Oasis Park Trilogy starts dropping on June 24, and the songs there are peppered throughout my mix.
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to hear the podcast offline you will need to subscribe to our Select channel to listen offline, or subscribe to XLR8R+ to download the file. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
Full XLR8R+ Members can download the podcast below. If you’re not an XLR8R+ member, you can read more about it and subscribe here.
01. Jinku “Tena na Tena” feat. Swahili Papi, DEZ & Wendy Kay (Jinku)
02. Hiribae “Different Strokes” (Byrd Out)
03. Clu “Moonrunner” feat. Gemma Dunleavy (Earmilk)
04. Dpat “Pray For Me” (Heaven Only Knows)
05. EA Wave & Wanja Wohoro “Honeydew” (East African Wave Sound Collective)
06. Ukweli & Kasha Tsuma “Hamna Aibu” (Ukweli)
07. Nu Fvnk “GWIT” (XLR8R+)
08. Jinku “On My Way” feat. Wendy Kay, DEZ & Supersun (Jinku)
09. Jinku “Råcksta” (Jinku)
10. Jinku, Karun & Flexfab “Listen” (FLEE)
11. Jinku, Karun & Pier Alfeo “Fluid Reprise” (Jacob Solomon & Karun Music)
12. Ukweli & Kasha Tsuma “Silaha” (Ukweli)
13. Cosha & Coby Sey “Tighter” (Ashtown Lane)
14. ELIZA “Straight Talker” (Different Recordings)
15. Juniper, Sango & VHOOR “Só Para Você” (Wright Music Group/Juniper/VHOOR)
16. NAMVULA “Dust To Dust” (Jinku’s Touch) (NMR Records)
17. Jinku “Håll Mig I” feat. feat. Lina Hansson (Jinku)
18. EA Wave “Alango” feat. Makadem (East African Wave Sound Collective)
19. Nu Fvnk “I Know You Got Soul” (Platoon)
20. Omeria “Seymour” (Cafe De Anatolia)
21. NAMVULA “Soleil” (Jinku Alternative Mix) (NMR Records)