1. Sauti Sol – 741k
Sauti Sol is the most successful group in Kenyan music by all standards. They have been producing music for more than a decade now and have been popular all through. Over time, they have evolved from a local band trying to make a name for themselves into an internationally recognized group that has fans all over Africa. Sauti Sol has some of the most viewed Kenyan music videos. Two of their videos, ‘Melanin’ and ‘Short and Sweet’ have over 20 million views. Sauti Sol’s international following has contributed most to its position on this list.
2. Otile Brown – 739k
Hot on the heels of Sauti Sol is Otile Brown, who is only 27 years old. Otile sings mostly in Swahili and his music is not that different from the Bongo music released by most Tanzanian artistes. This similarity is probably the reason why Otile has such a huge following. He has many fans in Tanzania. Otile is likely to get to 1 million subscribers before Sauti Sol. His most viewed videos, Dusuma and Chaguo La Moyo wangu have 27M and 26M views, leaving Sauti Sol’s most followed videos in the dust.
3. Willy Paul. 670k.
Willy Paul is one of the most famous musicians in Kenya. He amassed quite a following as a gospel musician then made a controversial cross-over to the secular side. Despite the apparent hate directed against him for his transition, he has grown even more popular. After he went secular, he used what Ezekiel Mutua would call “obscenity” to remain relevant, releasing songs with titles such as “Lamba Nyonyo.” Multiple high profile collaborations including with Alaine and Nandy have helped grow Willy Paul’s brand outside Kenya’s borders. Of late, he has abandoned his “obscenity” strategy and is slowly getting back to making the sort of music that made millions fall crazily in love with him in the beginning.
4. Bahati. 617k
Bahati is Willy Paul’s nemesis. They both started out as superstars in gospel music and have over the years grown to become giants in the music industry in general. When Willy Paul made the transition to secular music, Bahati stayed in gospel. He would later distance himself from the rest of the gospel industry and begin working with secular artists, even releasing songs with the most notorious of them like Benzema and Odi wa Murang’a. His music remains immensely popular. Bahati is also the 4th most followed Kenyan on Instagram.
5. Khaligraph Jones – 450k
Khaligraph is perhaps the best rapper in Kenya. Thanks to his hard work in developing his craft, he ranks among the best rappers on the continent. He has been steadily gaining fans from the rest of Africa, especially in West Africa. He recently collaborated with a top African rapper from Senegal, Sarkodie, in a song that was well received. Khaligraph has been one of the most consistent artists in the country and has become quite influential. Recently, after he made an appeal to the government, he led a delegation of artistes in meeting the deputy president William Ruto to negotiate for the lifting of lockdowns on counties.
6. Nyashinski. 403k
Nyashinski is a Kenyan darling by all accounts. He took a long break from music when he and his family moved abroad. When he did come back, he took the Kenyan music industry by storm and seems to only be getting better. His channel so far has 74 million views and has multiple videos with more than 5 million views each. His latest banger, a collaboration with Chris Kaiga, has 8.5 million views in 5 months.
7. Nadia Mukami – 348k
There’s no 24 year old Kenyan making waves like Nadia Mukami. In two years, she has transitioned from a nobody into a queen in Kenyan music. Her prowess in swahili lyricism and her melodious voice have won over the hearts of Kenyans. Her music video “Nipe Yote” got 700,000 views in 2 weeks on YouTube, which is remarkable by Kenyan standards. She seems set to take over East Africa.
8. Akothee Kenya – 318k
Akothee is one of the more controversial Kenyan celebrities. This controversy helped when she started her music career. However, Akothee has produced legitimately great songs over the years. She is the only Kenyan artist to have collaborated with Diamond Platnumz and Flavour of Nigeria. She has also won an Afrima award for Best Female Artist in East Africa. She is among the top ten most followed Kenyans on Instagram and one of the super moms with great achievements that we celebrated on this year’s Mother’s Day. She juggles her music career with raising 5 children and running her businesses, most notable of which is Akothee Safaris.
9. Ethic Entertainment – 312k
Ethic is one of the most famous music groups in Kenya and is the only Gengeton group to make it to this list. Every official music video that they have released has gotten over 1 million views. Pandana, their most popular song on YouTube, has 6.7 million views and is the 3rd most viewed Gengeton song in Kenya.
10. King Kaka – 290k
Rabbit aka King Kaka is a well known Kenyan rapper. He was rising in popularity until he decided to start using his music for activism. His first song in this direction, “Wajinga Nyinyi,” went viral and got him into trouble with politicians like governor Anne Waiguru. After Wajinga Nyinyi, his music videos have become less popular in general, probably because of their activist stance.
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Successful YouTubers in this generation make a lot of money and comedians are among the best performing individuals on YouTube. Getting enough subscribers to earn good money is a tough journey but it’s usually the only way for comedians to monetize their art. There are hundreds of comedians on YouTube trying to make it big. Only a few have gotten to a point where they can live off their comedy. Below is a list of the most successful Kenyan comedians on YouTube.
1. Henry Desagu – 550k subscribers
He calls himself the prince of Mwihoko. Among his distinctive features are his Kikuyu accent and his love for kitenge shirts. When he was starting out, he used to create multiple fake accounts on YouTube which he would use to comment on his videos to give the illusion of popularity among viewers. Today, however, he effortlessly gets tens of thousands of views within days of releasing his videos. You will find his videos every now and then on the trending list. Below is one of the most popular Desagu videos, with 2 million views in 10 months.
2. Eric Omondi – 509k
Eric Omondi is the king of Kenyan comedy in the eyes of many people. The fact that he is second on this list only highlights just how successful Desagu has been. Eric, who is also the second most followed Kenyan on Instagram, started out on the Churchill Show and has consistently built his brand to become a top comedian not only in Kenya and East Africa but also on the continent. He won a continental award for comedy and used that to give himself the title of “President of Comedy Africa.” He is keen on fulfilling his presidential duty of entertaining Africans. His latest project towards that is the controversial Wife Material show, which had been stopped but is expected to resume this May.
3. Flaqo Raz – 346k
Flaqo is most widely known for his “Otis” and “Mama Otis” videos, which are much loved and often go viral. The most remarkable and perhaps the most attractive thing about Flaqo as a comedian is that he can play up to five characters in one of his skits. A typical Flaqo video will involve witty and comic exchanges among Otis, his mother and his father with Flaqo playing all three roles. If you don’t know this and someone told you that the mother throwing slippers and insults is the same person as the son ducking and trying to run away, you would not believe it. Flaqo’s extraordinary creativity have seen him rise, especially during the initial part of the pandemic when people spent more time online.
4. Monk Kenyan Comedian – 302k
Monk has been immensely successful. One of his most popular uploads is a two minute video about an unusually faithful Kenyan man successfully withstanding an onslaught by a beautiful girl. It has an unbelievable 11 Million views!! Monk has capitalized on the experiences of young Kenyans and has become an expert at using relatable situations to draw laughs from his audience.
5. Mca Tricky – 275k
Mca Tricky first began cracking our ribs on NTV’s Churchill Show. His character was a street kid from Nairobi. He grew immensely popular and used this to build himself a platform online. He is one among the multiple comedians who have interned at Churchill’s show and gone on to make a successful career for themselves in the industry.
6. Sammy Kioko – 274k
Sammy Kioko is another one of Churchill Show’s alumni. He has made a name for himself in online comedy by recreating funny high school experiences. He has partnered with Mwalimu Tom, another comedian on this list. Together, they release comedy videos set in school. The show they run on YouTube reminds one of Tahidi High. It’s a high level production usually set in a very convincing school environment and with multiple extras. These videos are popular and have collectively gathered 16 million views on his YouTube channel.
7. Tales of the Crazy Kennar – 261k.
The Crazy Kennar makes his audience laugh by recreating funny social occurrences and making fun of various elements in society. A lot of his content is derived from the world of dating. For example, a popular video of his shows a lady and a man who are talking in a room, each with intentions that are the exact opposite of the other’s. In another video, an SDA faithful who has been heartbroken decides to drown his sorrows with fanta and multiple KDFs.
8. Alex Mathenge – 234k
Alex dresses up as a policeman and exploits all the weird and funny habits Kenyan police have to make his audience laugh. He has paired up with multiple comedians including Henry Desagu and Mca Tricky to released viral videos. Recently, in Ringtone’s alleged arrest which was staged as part of the publicity effort for an upcoming song, officer Alex was the police officer who made the arrest. He has even shot some comedy with politician Kalonzo Musyoka and has released a music video that has so far racked up 1.5M views.
9. Tom Daktari – 217k
Tom Daktari and Sammy Kioko were recently interviewed by Churchill. In the interview, they shared their experience and journey in comedy. Tom Daktari is most known for his role as the teacher alongside Sammy Kioko who plays a student. Together, this duo has released a lot of funny content based on high school experiences, putting both of them among the most followed comedians on YouTube.
10. Ujinga Za Victor Naman – 182k
Rounding up our list is Victor Naman and his stupid antiques, as his channel name suggests. Victor’s stupidity on YouTube has earned him over 30 million views on YouTube. On his YouTube home page, Victor has placed a video that he did imitating Raila in 2018. The video has only 445 views. On the same page is a video of him getting arrested that he did two years later. It has 1.3 million views. It’s a perfect way to summarize the excruciating journey that each of the individuals on this list has gone through to get to where they are.
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1. Elsa Majimbo
Elsa is arguably the most accomplished 19 year old Kenyan. At the start of the pandemic in 2020, she had 7k followers on Ig. Now, she has 2.3M followers, among them Rihanna. How did she make that leap in one year? Well, she made people laugh. Kenyans didn’t find her funny before she became world famous but people from the rest of the world can’t get enough of her.
She has been featured on Vogue, Forbes and the New York Times. She has been interviewed by America’s Larry Madowo, Anderson Cooper. She has paid partnerships with Rihanna’s Fenty, MAC, Valentino and Bumble. She won the E! People’s Choice Award for African Social Star in 2020, defeating Sho Madjozi and Miss Universe 2019, Zozibini Tunzi from South Africa. People outside Kenya love her immensely. She has been praised by Forbes Women Africa for inspiring confidence and by Beyonce for being a rule breaker.
She has an Ig show, BedTime with Elsa, on which she has hosted various international stars, including Usain Bolt. Elsa is a girl with great achievements already but she also has great dreams and we can’t wait to see how her journey will go.
2. Trio Mio
I submit to you the most remarkable 16 year old in Kenya who is most probably also the most remarkable high schooler. Seriously, we were not ready for Trio Mio. He hit Kenya like a tsunami. It’s not only that the kid has been on a track with Mejja, or that his Cheza Kama Wewe remix got 6.3 million views on YouTube in 5 months. It’s also that he is super talented and that he seems to have a knack for giving us really great music.
Every time I listen to a Trio Mio song, his lyrics leave me in awe. Most young musicians in Kenya, especially in Gengeton, write lyrics so that they can rhyme or sound interesting. But Trio… his lyrics are clearly very well thought out. Additionally, they have heavy content. You’ll find him singing about juggling school with music or handling fame while young. And he still finds a way to make it sound interesting. Honestly, it’s very clever and I can’t wait to see how he’ll evolve as he learns and grows. Trio Mio should be gazetted as a national treasure.
3. Yasmeen Saiedi
If you want to know how remarkable Yasmeen is, consider this: I don’t watch television and the only time I come close to a television is when I pass by a hotel. But still, I learnt about this show on Citizen called Maria. I kept hearing Maria this, Maria that until I was burning with curiosity to know who this Maria is, to at least see her face. I never did watch Maria, but I met her in interviews, including the one on Churchill Show. I could not help falling in love with her. And I wasn’t alone. More than 2 million televisions are tuned to Citizen Tv every day and the number of people who watched and loved Maria are definitely more.
You don’t climb a mountain from the top but Yasmeen seems to have done just that, she started her career at 100%. For a Kenyan actor, I don’t think it gets better than what Yasmeen had in Maria. And that makes me worry, especially in the light of recent stories like those of Miss Morgan and Omosh of Tahidi High. But if someone can go upwards from 100%, then it is Maria. She seems more than capable and I wish her all the best. Meanwhile, she is the most famous and popular 20 year old in Kenya.
4. Azziad Nasenya
I like numbers because they don’t lie. Azziad has 1M followers on Ig. She is also the most followed Kenyan on Tiktok and recently hit the 1M mark. With such stats, you should place respect on her name. She catapulted into fame when she did a tiktok video of the song Utawezana. After that video, Kenyans and East Africans fell for her, me included.
What lured me onto the Azziad bandwagon are two things. First, she is quite the hard-worker. The consistency with which she uploads content impresses me, especially because getting a simple Tiktok video right can be frustratingly difficult. Secondly, she is not just your average Tiktoker. She is a girl with big dreams. I’m talking Hollywood level dreams and it looks like she is doing everything right to make her dreams come true.
She has her own show on YouTube, where she has been exploring the stories behind the shoe closets of Kenya’s biggest celebrities. She also recently landed a gig on the television show Selina. I support Azziad because I want to see her in Hollywood, like Lupita. I believe she has what it takes and when she gets there, I can tell everyone who cares to listen that I was part of the journey from day one. It amazes me just how little it takes to be happy.
5. Nikita Kering
I’m in love with Nikita Kering. It’s her voice for me, and the international standards she holds herself to. Honestly, take a song like “Never Let You Go.” The lyrics, the voice, the group of schools English, the video concept… they’re all deserving of a global stage. If we don’t give Nikita a shot at the grammies, we will have failed her. That’s one of the things that keeps me up at night. Well, that and the bedbugs.
But seriously, the realization that Nikita will probably never fulfill her potential because she was born in Kenya pains me. I mean, she was the youngest ever nominee on the biggest continental awards show, Afrimma, in 2019. At 17, she went on to win not one but 2 awards: Best Female Artist in East Africa and Revelation of the African Continent. Hello?
She’s a national treasure but maybe like the athletes who change their citizenship and become Arabians, she should move to America, or at the very least, South Africa. Because, as patriotic as I am, I’m not sure we are going to do what’s best for her. It’s like if Messi was born in Kenya. It would be such a waste. There’s nothing else to say except that corruption is a bitch.
Can we get 2022 candidates (from legislators to the President) who’ll make sure that our Messis and Nikitas won’t go to waste or is that too much to ask?
6. Foi Wambui
To some, Foi Wambui is a lifestyle digital content creator who is growing in popularity on YouTube and Instagram. To others, Foi is an actor, whose most recent role in ShowMax’s Crime and Justice alongside legendary Sarah Hassan generated a lot of positive buzz on social media. And yet Foi’s portfolio doesn’t end there. It also includes a career in television and radio. Currently, Foi, alongside singer and actress Patricia Kihoro, host a show on DSTV’s Honey Africa TV. On the show, called Yes! Ndio! Beeni!, Foi and Patricia help men across Africa propose to their girlfriends in unique ways.
With a degree in Broadcast Journalism which she got from USIU in 2020, Foi seems set to go really far. While she was still a student, she worked with Shujaaz magazine as a radio show host and as a TV presenter for Switch TV’s entertainment show, Switch Board. This is a 23 year old Kenyan living her best life and her space is definitely one to watch.
7. Sylvia Saru
Sylvia Saru aka Ssaru wa Manyaru is turning 19 this May. She has been quite a remarkable 18 year old and a remarkable minor too. In November 2019, when she was 17, she released her first music video, Nyama. She quickly rose to fame and in the two years since, has gone on to feature in songs with heavyweights like Bahati, Khaligraph and Mejja and become one of the most successful and youngest female musicians in Kenya.
Ssaru was the first girl to make herself a name in the Gengeton Industry – which is heavily male dominated. And you don’t get into Gengeton if you can’t spit a few explicit lines. So, when she was a minor, millions were listening to Ssaru spit lyrics such as, “Cheki, utamu ni ya keki keki, najua unapenda vitu tasty, nikona boobs I’m chesty, unataka nudes ucheki, najua stingo za Imenti…” and so forth. Also, in the process of endearing herself to her target audience, she associated herself with weed and got the unshakeable tag, “Ssaru wa Manyaru.”
In her Nimerudi Tena freestyle released in August 2020, she defended herself regarding the explicit nature of her music, singing, “nilikuwa niwashow hizi ni mistari mi sipendi hii kitu sana.”
It takes great determination to achieve the success that she has in the male dominated industry she is in. It can’t be easy to let people associate you with certain things just to make it as a musician. And that’s part of what makes Ssaru remarkable. She has potential and the resolve to realize it. As she turns 19, we wish her all the best and can’t wait to see her rise to the highest heights possible.
8. Bey T
While counting our treasures in the entertainment industry, Bey T is definitely among them. She oozes an international vybe that is hard to forget through her lyrics, her videos and her English. In Kenya, the problem that artists of international quality face is that they get a slow start. Normally, what should happen is the love by your country men propels you onto the international stage, like in Diamond’s case or in Nadia Mukami’s case. Nadia and Diamond sing in the popular language of their people so it’s easy for them to get popular support right away, like Gengeton musicians.
Nadia’s star is extremely bright but there is a limit to how far she can go singing in Swahili. A girl like Bey T, however, singing in English, stands to conquer more of Africa and more of the world. The same comparison can be made between Njugush who is wildly popular in Kenya and Elsa Majimbo, who is popular among English speakers worldwide. Elsa will always have more to conquer and will therefore achieve more.
At 21, Bey T is already making steps to conquer the world. She was one of the finalists of Mr Eazy’s Africa wide Empawa music program. She has already been in a collaboration with South African sensation, Shekhinah. And, according to the numbers, Bey T, though moving slower than the likes of Nadia, is doing well. Her most popular music video on YouTube has 1.8M views, which is no small feat. Also, as far as concerts go, hers have been successful enough. May she conquer the world.
Oh, and if you’ve not experienced Khali Cartel 3, you are missing out. You’ll find the best of Bey T there.
9. Thee Pluto
Robert Kamau is his official name but many know him as Thee Pluto, especially on Instagram where he has quite a following. He is a fashion icon and it can confidently be said that no 21 year old in the country drips like he does. He is still a university student, pursuing Economics, and is the deputy national coordinator for the Kenya Universities Students Organization. He works with several modelling agencies in the country and wants to be an actor in future.
10. Anita Soina
This 21 year old, among other achievements, has written a book. That’s right. It’s called The Green War and in it, she shares her journey, challenges and plans to stop environmental degradation. She has a personal website, which she uses to promote her environmental conservation agenda. She also runs a community based organization, spice warriors, which is dedicated to protecting the environment.
In addition, she runs a tree planting program and a mentor-ship program, both of which you can support through her website. Her book goes for sh. 999, and she uses part of the proceeds to make Kenya greener by planting trees. She’s Wangari Maathai in the making and we wish her all the best.
Yes, it’s not lost on me that there are only 2 men in this list. If you feel there’s someone we’ve left out, please comment below. Follow DekuTrends on all social media to keep up with us.
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