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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