Ashimba on our minds

When it comes to Tanzanian music playing in Kenya, mainstream bongo flava dominates. But that should’nt mean there is nothing different coming from TZ.
Our newest listening experience is Ashimba you may have heard some of his music played during January’s R&S .

He is a singer, guitarist and songwriter from Bagamoyo, Tanzania. His music is fuses traditional and modern in a style that echoes Senegalese singer Yossou N’ Dour. Story telling, proverbs are part and parcel of his songwriting. He sings in Swahili and traditional Tanzanian languages.
His album is titled Nuru Nyikani (Swahili for light in the wilderness) and includes the must listens Maisha and Yaya featuring Nakaaya.
We met his producer Jakob Poll during the Kenya Music Week in Sarit Centre, Nairobi where he had come to promote MaishaMusic, a Danish-Tanzaina label looking to promote East African music across the globe. He was also featured during the Afrobased festival Blankets and Wine in Nairobi.

Check out his myspace page:
And more of his music on

I’m a BlackStar


We are currently feeling Jay Ghartey. He is Ghanaian singer whose mix of urban and Ghana rhythms is quite cool. He looks a little bit like Kenyan neosoul singer Shu.


Just a little bit. But apart from the ‘African in diaspora’ vibe they both have, their styles are different.
The song that inspired this post is titled Blackstar the Accra mix has a funky touch of African house.
Sample the lyrics:
“But I keep on, cos my soul don’t break/
And they try to get in our way but them never gonna slow us down/
Don’t matter the things they say cos we come from the underground/
It’s the African’s time to shine…
We’ll never run
We’ll always be here
I’m a Blackstar, ye I’m a Blackstar, no matter where you are, you’re a Blackstar”

More info and music can be found on

Playlist 101

Since we began Rhythm & Spoken early last year we have featured a diverse neo-soul/ raregroove playlist with the recent addition of African music. We usually get inquiries from the audience regarding songs that we play during and after performances. Here are the recent most popular inquiries…


Of Nigerian and German heritage, Ayo’s music is the kind that creeps up and envelopes you in warmth. Her videos are even more interesting with African scenes form the 70s or modern day Lagos.

Album Review-Ayo

Ayo’s album is an eye opener. Her falsetto and guitar strums seem innocent at first listen but on further inspection reveal a lot on pain, love and laughter. She is playful in Life is real and loving in Only you. A sure hit Help is coming is a hopeful ode to struggle. Life is real is my current favourite, the video is simple but fun, set in Lagos it shows the singer dancing in the streets with children and women and the break down: “”Me I be Ayo ogunmakin fear no foe I am real from head to toe just like my heart and like my soul” always makes me smile.

Asa (pron. Asha)

Nigerian singer whose music has garnered a popular following in Africa and the diaspora. She is without doubt a gifted vocalist whose music can soften even the hardest of souls.

Album review

Asa sings in English, pidgin and a her native Yoruba. Popular songs include Jailer, Bi Banke and Fire on the Mountain. Her self titled debut album is really good, it’s the kind of music to play on a sunny sunday afternoon while enjoying a glass of chilled wine. I have also discovered it reduces road rage.

My current favourite is SubwayI have come from far away/ To see this go down the drain/ I have waited patiently and this is what I get/ Emotionally failing me /My whole wide world is caving in/ I’m not so free to express myself /The woman in me Wo wo wo don’t fade away ” Simply amazing. you can read more on Asa at:

Freshly Ground

Freshly Ground are a South African band whose video – Pot belly, caught my eye. They are creative in a way that is very subtle and their music is self assured and fresh. It still has the tell-tell South African rhythms but their amazing fusion of african drums guiter, jazz, pop and dance offset by lead singer Zo’s distinct voice really sets them apart. Albums Ma Cherie, Nomvula and Jik Jika are must have cds for Afro-soul/folk lovers.

Album review-Ma Cherie

This is my current favourite of all their albums. I am biased because it contains Pot belly of course. Its thoughtful, fun and kind of sexy in its on home grown, Freshly Ground way.

Baby Tonight is a nice mid tempo track with echoes of Paul Simon. Fired up is the coolest. I am still absorbing this album but I must assure you it does not disappoint. Check them out on