Millennials have their own unique taste, thus when it comes to music, it’s quite diverse. The songs that shaped the Millennial generation range from hits to underground anthems.
The millennial generation has best experienced the growth of technology and that resonates through their attachment to music. With the growing ease of access to varied artists and their creations, the millennials relate best to the tracks they enjoy.
In our millennial series today, we take a closer look at the top 10 millennial queens in the EAST AFRICAN Music Industry. These are female artists that rocked the Millennial generation (people born between the mid-1980s through the year 2000), that we’re still listening to today.
Saida Karoli is a traditionalist Tanzanian singer and performer who has staged live shows in all the EastAfrican countries of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC. She was a hot cake in EastAfrica with her popular songs Mapenzi Kizunguzungu, Kitobero, Kaisiki, Nishike, Orugambo and Salome “Maria Salome”, a song from her first album Chambua kama Karanga reached number three in airplay on Tanzanian radio. After the song’s success in Uganda, she became popularly known there as Wanchekecha, a nickname derived from the lyrics of the song.
In style, Karoli’s music is described as natural with mellow vocals and hypnotically rhythmicism. Though she sings primarily in her native tongue Haya, her lyrics also incorporate extensive common East African Language Swahilli and the occasional phrase in English.
Saida has been off the scene for a while but her music has still earned her much, In 2013, her song ‘Maria Salome’ was featured in the Tyler Perry produced movie Peeples. Also in 2016, Diamond Platnumz also paid her royalties for redoing her song Salome.
One of the last times she was in Uganda, Saida Karoli was taught a lesson she will never forget. It is said she was only given Shs20,000 which was not even enough for a bus back to Tanzania. She swore never to return to Uganda but like they say, never say never. Today, one would say that Tanzania’s Zuchu is moving in Saida’s shoes because of their resembling style.
The musician has not been doing great and blames her misfortunes on unprofessional managers who used and dumped her. She said she used to get very little from album sales but Diamond gave her 25 per cent of total revenue collected from her Salome song.
Popularly known by the mononym Juliana, Juliana Kanyomozi is a Ugandan female musician, actress, and entertainer. Juliana rose to fame in the late 1990s as one half of the all-girl duo I-Jay, with Iryn Namubiru.
The group’s single titled Vive la Vie was a popular record on Ugandan radio stations at that time. After the duo disbanded, Juliana launched a solo career Juliana started singing professionally in 1999, when she was part of the millennium song that featured so many other Ugandan artists. She recorded her first song and that was a time she used to perform at Sabrina’s. Back then in 2000, we remember you were in a music group called I-JAY.
Her first album was Nabikoowa which was released in 2005 and Kanyimbe which was released in 2007. In the early 2000’s Kanyomozi has also collaborated with Bobi Wine on songs such as: “Taata Wa Baana Yaani?” (Who is the Father of the Kids?) and “Maama Mbiire”. She worked with Sweet Kid on the track “Sirinaayo Mulala” (I don’t have anyone else) and with Klear Kut on the song “All I Wanna Know”.
At one time, Juliana hosted a morning radio program on Capital FM Radio in Kampala, the capital of Uganda and the largest city in that country. All this strengthened her position as a star celebrity something that kept her up there in the entertainment circles. She recently gave birth to a son, Taj and currently away from the music chats, hopefully she returns with more bangers soon.
Amani, real names Cecilia Wairimu is one of the few Kenyan artists that revolutionarized the Kenyan music business. She started out by signing a record deal with the Ogopa Deejays in 1999.
Her debut single “Move On” was a radio hit. She released her follow-up singles “Tahidi” and “Papii” in 2001. Her 2002 collaboration with Nameless, titled “Ninanoki“, was a major national hit. Her later singles include “Talk to You” (featuring Patonee and Big Pin), “Bad Boy” (featuring Nyashinski ), Usiwe Mbali (featuring AY), “Tamani”, “Missing My Baby”, and “Tonight”.
Her debut album, Tamani, was released in 2006. In 2010, Amani was featured on “Hands Across The World”, a song written and produced by R. Kelly. The song serves as the first release for the African supergroup One 8In 2014, she collaborated with Ugandan dynamic duo the late Moses Radio and WEASLE on a collabo “Kiboko changu”. Years that followed thereafter, Amani got born again with ‘My God’ and ‘Upendo’ being some of her songs as a born again Christian. This new leaf came as both a surprise and shock to her fans but she stated she was there to stay.
LADY JAY DEE
With a career that spans over 2 decades in the industry, most of which have been enjoyed at the top of her game, there is little doubt that she’s paved the way for other women to also engage in music. Lady Jaydee, real names Judith Wambura Mbibo has already cemented her status as an icon in Tanzania’s music industry
Unlike other artistes who’ve fallen from the face of the earth after gaining fame, Jaydee has maintained her status by forging a uniquely consistence path in the entertainment industry, and through it all she’s had to battle some roadblocks cast her way.
Jaydee has tried to stay relevant over the years amid competition from new generation artists, earlier this year she released her eighth studio album which she explained did not intend to earn money from but to celebrate her two decades in the music industry.
Nazizi is a Kenyan hip hop/reggae/dancehall artist Popularly known as ‘The First Lady’, she released her first single ‘Ni sawa tu’ when she was 16 years old. The song was an instant hit in both local and regional markets. She viewed her unique status as the first and, at the time, only female hip-hop artist in Kenya as an opportunity to improve and develop as a musician. In the years since, her versatility has seen her emerge as one of the few artists in Kenya that seem to effortlessly slip between different music genres.
Nazizi has had a successful solo career in addition to being a member of the popular Kenyan group, Necessary Noize; the East African group, East African Bashment Crew (EABC); and, the newly formed all female MC international hip hop group, Lyrikal Roses. She also completed a joint album with Jamaican reggae star Ginjah. The 11 track album, ‘Motherland’ was released in January 2012. As a solo artist, Nazizi released a number of singles including dancehall hits, ‘Take the People Away’ and ‘Can’t Have Mi Man’. ‘Take the People Away’ was nominated for a Channel O Video Music Award (2011).
Her first solo album, ‘African Youth’, was released in May 2008. It is a mix of hip-hop, dancehall and reggae songs that reflect her talent in the different genres that she most enjoys. From the upbeat and fun ‘Jump and Shout’ to the urgency of ‘Jeshi’, the album does not disappoint. The group Necessary Noize has released two albums; ‘Necessary Noize’ (2003) and ‘Kenyan Gal, Kenyan Boy’ (2005). Hit singles include ‘Clang Clang’, ‘Lovers Rock’, ‘Kenyan Gal Kenyan Boy’, ‘Bless My Room’ and ‘Tension’.
Nazizi Hirji has of late had both good and bad times almost in equal measure. She once packed her belongings and moved from Nairobi to Lamu to start life afresh.
Iryn’s first attempt at success in the music industry came in 1995 when she joined singers-cum-rapper DJs Ragga Dee, and Molar Messe, as the group Da Hommies. Her first individual single “Learn to say good bye” appeared on the group’s subsequent album. Soon afterwards, she had her first stage appearance in September 1995.
In 1999, she joined Juliana Kanyomozi, her former schoolmate at Namasagali College, to form theR&B all-girl group called I-Jay. In 2000, they released their first 7 track album titled “WAIT” which included songs “Wait RMX (Ft Steve Jean)”, “Not Good Enough”, “Mwana”, “Wait”, “Emirimu”, “Vivi LA Vi” and “Two To Make It True…”, which received moderate air play on radio stations in Uganda.
Soon after the release of their record, Namubiru left for France and the group disbanded. This break up led to speculation that the two separated on unfriendly terms however, they both denied such rumors’. While in France, she formed the Afro-Soul group Nujeli with and they released ENSI LP.
In 2006, Namubiru collaborated with singer Bebe Cool in the songs “Simbalala” and “Lwaki Onzannyilako?”.However, Namubiru’s widespread success was in 2006, when she released her album Nkuweeki?. Since then, Namubiru released the songs “Y’ono”, “Lwaki”, “Bonna Obasinga”, “Begombeko”, “Birowoozo”, for which she has received various awards in the Ugandan music industry.
In 2011, Namubiru won in four categories of the 2011 Pearl of Africa Music Awards (PAM). She won in the categories of Artist of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and Best RnB Single of the Year.
Ray C real names Rehema Chalamila is one of the initiators of Tanzanian afro pop sound specifically bongo flava. Before venturing into music, she worked as a presenter for the Dar es Salam-based Clouds FM radio station something that smoothened her transition into music with a steady ready fanbase. . She released her debut album “Mapenzi Yangu” in 2003.
Her music has toured Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Mozambique, China, United Kingdom, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Sweden, USA, Australia, Thailand, South Africa, India, Nigeria and other countries.
Her albums Mapenzi Yangu (2003), Na Wewe Milele (2004), Sogea Sogea (2006), Touch Me (2008) all did well on the continent hence winning the biggest regional music awards of the days.
Wahu is a celebrated music artist who has made a name in the music industry since the early days of this 2000 decade. The singer who is also known as Rosemary is an accomplished songwriter, actress, entrepreneur and a former model. The famous track ‘Sweet love’ catapulted Wahu into Stardom.
This ‘Sweet love’ hit maker has been in the industry for 18 years. Her first single was ‘Niangalie’ and it was well received. The pop singer is married to an award-winning artist David Mathenge famously referred to as Nameless; another well accomplished artist not only in Kenya but across the continent.
Those asking what she’s all up to now, WAHU took a New life direction, She recently made headlines after she turned a new leaf and began to sing gospel music. Wahu said, “I had my first completely genuine discussion with God then, I told him that He needed to let me know why He created me, and what I’m supposed to be doing here on earth. God answered my prayer then through a DVD by the late Dr Myles Munroe titled “Purpose”.
Chance Nalubega is famously recalled as one of the music crooners in the 1990s East Africa was endowed with. She involved herself in the music industry since she was 10years old.
She made her debut under Gomiba Band with hits like Nsula Eyo “Omutima Gunuma”. During her time, Chance Nalubega managed to drop over 7 music albums that she recorded in Kasiwukira Studios, Lusyn Enterprises, and Dr. Tee’s Studio on the most recent album.
Chance Nalubega has five music albums to her name, including Abalungi Balumya, Mwami Kulikayo, Abenugu, Dear Wange and I will love you. Her songs include; Guma Omwoyo, Omusheshe, Abalungi Balumya, Mwami Kulikayo, Balinsekerela, Byansobera, Dear Wange, Omukwano Guluma and Abatesi on which she collaborated with Goodlyfe Crew, Radio and Weasel, among others. Chance Nalubega hopes to return strong from a musical break.
After almost 15years of dulling, together with Sheebah Karungi, Chance came back to the music scene in 2021 with a remix of her song “Kale maama”
Ndagire started out as a theatre acteress, at age 15, which still a student at Kampala High School. She went on to join the Black Pearls of Omugave Ndugwa in 1987, where she starred in several plays up until 1993. While there, she co-wrote her first play titled “Engabo Y’addako”. Later Ndagire, together with Kato Lubwama and Ahraf Simwogerere formed their own group the Diamonds’ Ensemble and they wrote several plays.
Ndagire says she got into music by accident. ‘Theatre shows usually have original songs produced as part of the production. I guess that’s where I started out, and before I knew it I was becoming a recording artist.’ In the early 2000’s and late 90’s, music within theatre plays was a real deal somethinhg that probably enabled Mariam Ndagire to blossom out in the music scene too. Shes one of the founding members of the urban local band music in Uganda today.
Ndagire is so passionate about helping young talent find themselves in the performing arts; that is he reason that she started The Next Ugandan Music, an American Idol-style show.
In 2015 Ndagire was appointed by AFRICA MAGIC VIEWERS’ CHOICE AWARDS AMVCA to be part of the JURY. In 2019 Ndagire was appointed as a committee member of the Grand Jury of the GOLDEN MOVIE AWARDS AFRICA
Keeping in tune with that, Music has always been big in young people’s lives—and so have the stars behind their favorite songs. With the rise of social media and the alternate routes being carved for young artists to climb (or catapult) to fame, this has been never been more true.
Where pop stars once seemed out of reach, these days, young consumers can interact with their favorite musicians directly as well as get a glimpse into their daily lives. On top of that, social media is a breeding ground for young musicians, giving them an opportunity to subvert the normal path to fame by simply going viral—which also gives young consumers the opportunity to feel like they’ve hand-selected their generation’s next stars by hitting “like” and “share.”
Just look at the mega success story that is Lil Nas X, the artist behind Old Town Road, who landed his record deal after going viral on TikTok. In fact, nearly half of 13-37-year-olds tell us they’ve discovered a new musician or song through a social media video, and two-thirds say they’re interested in their favorite musicians’ personal lives, not just their music.
Who is the musician you feel best represents your generation? Share with us in the comment section.