I’ve listened to this song countless times, I have scoured its belly, examined its dental structure, looked into its eyes, all in an effort to see its true essence. What makes Baba Joshua tick?and not unlike jacob, i have wrestled with this celestial piece so that in the end it may speak its blessing upon me.
In the sum of things, I’d say it isn’t really this or that. And I don’t necessarily have to be right, because songs in the end, are really about tastes. If you look keenly enough, you will discover what it has in store for you personally. In the words of a man we have always known to be unkempt, the best thing about singing a song to 80,000 fans is that they’ll sing it back to you for 80,000 reasons. And here is my reason for singing along to this song, including those passages in it that I have no idea what is being said.
When I met up with these guys for an interview we did <<here>>, they mentioned how they intended that their music be an embodiment of two things. One, the culture of this country that gives us so much to be proud of and two rock music which they felt was being neglected in the scene with almost everyone nowadays just forming metal bands.
Music that is truly Kenyan. I can’t imagine how many times I’ve heard that phrase going around. Like an old watch its been peddled around so frequently that I’d be forgiven for taking it as a mere political statement, something said to just rile the crowds, get the corporate heads nodding. But we all know that no real effort has been made to actualise such statements into something concrete. What we are left with is something that no one can pay attention to, like a rank and file employee. Just a statistic on the spreadsheet. In today’s industry nothings juts out, everything flows with the same blue wave and the ear is scarcely enthralled.
Like Odysseus we are aboard a solitary freighter, where beneath and around you is an ocean of music roaring with an endless monotony and stretching as far as the eyes can see. but today you must cast your eyes upon a jutting rock formation where the sirens sit and their song, just like “Baba Joshua” here will forever grab your attention as everything else fades into obscurity .
If Culture Horizon would forever sit back and not make another song, this one here would be enough of a fulfilled promise to the world, to make something that stands with and a run a mile in the legs Janet Jepkosgei and echo with the voices of mama mbogas whose wooden stalls hug the corners of thread bear roads everywhere you go.
At the beginning of this song, my memory sails on the waves of time, backwards into a moment just after prime time TV, when my young life was just beginning to bloom in the garden of society. There was a show whose soundtrack lives on in that opening riff. It was called Kisulisuli. And that 4 year old that sunk in his grandmother’s rugged sofa half thrilled and half spellbound takes residence in my psyche every time this song plays. The sounds and sights of those years in the 90s, and the mesmerising concoction of Oyo and steam cooked fish that wafted in the year hijack a new vessel in the form of this song. The old language of yester years spoken in the comfort of so many households across the country hang on the edge of my tongue.
The song’s rhythm maintains that balance of cultural nostalgia throughout the song. It is a mix of a sample of the musical waves that have made for memorable popular culture in this country. From the days when your parents thought they were living the prime of psychedelic existence with the discovery of that atrocious dance they called ‘Twist’. When Fadhili Williams music, a proud export that has refused to die first ringed joyfully on the monopolised airwaves. Then there is also an inkling of Congolese music, a heyday rendition of Madillu and Franco. And if that wasn’t enough the way the drums are played gives you a taste of something that may appeal to more recent memory, rhumba. That genteel flavour of every pillar that enchanted the Kenyan community is enhanced by elements of rock music. A good example is that buzz filled and racing guitar solo at the tail end of the song.
The song is also done in Swahili and frankly there wasn’t any other way of telling the story. It would be an absolute sin to narrate the escapades of this quintessential African character. It is told in a sufficiently complete but succinct way that is easy to sing along to and remains catchy. Gloria Sangwa is really in her element when she weaves her voice around the mesh of instruments, almost as if this song was written just for her.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this piece. One the one hand it was easy on the ears. But its crowning element is without a doubt its blend of the rock music we have grown to love and the lovely memories of home that it engenders. Not the ones that now bear the global imprint of Uncle Sam and the internet. But instead open ups a cache of the simplest and every day vibrations of sun filled Kenyan life. And when you thought that you had left the best experiences of your life in the past, come along these guys, tearing a hole through the fabric of time and showing you that those cultural sentiments are always on the horizon, because what is time anyway?
Although we can’t in good conscious say that this song is a master piece, we definitely think they do possess the ingredients to create one. We hope we get to hear it first. 😉 But don’t take my word for it, listen to the song yourself by following the link below