R&B and Soul in Uganda are slowly demanding more attention thanks to some thriving young blood like the singer/guitarist, Kenneth Mugabi. Kenneth recently released his debut album titled “Kibunomu”, an excellent 11-track effort that is dominantly Afro-Soul.
After a couple of listens, I’ve decided to walk you through my highlights and the overall experience of listening to the album as a whole.
Kenneth Mugabi on the Kibun’omu album.
Omusheshe, a term used to refer mainly to Banyankore, is a song that has a joyful/jubilation mood to it as Kenneth states how he has met a Munyankore girl. He uses a clever approach, going on to predict his future with the girl right up to the looks their daughter will have.
It’s one that invites you to dance with a momentary switch-up in the 3rd verse that is more suited for the traditional Ankole styles of dancing. Its energy definitely makes for a good album-starter.
Nambi paints a picture of the way young people in rural areas who were in love often interacted, having to sneak out of home and meet by the well. It has nice percussion coupled with a prominent tube-fiddle and starts off very lean with Kenneth singing softly, eventually building into a more majestic piece with the singer’s voice getting bolder and hitting higher notes.
I really commend the writing on this one as it manages to come off as serious and witty at the same time.
The title track, Kibun’omu, for me is the 1st track on the album where Kenneth’s performance completely outcompetes the rest of the other components of the song (instruments…). It is founded on a good concept that refers to an object/something that is seen only by one person instantaneously.
Kenneth sings about an elusive girl that he hasn’t gotten to see as often as he desires to, begging for her to show herself. If you’ve been in an “I wish I could see her again” situation, the emotions his voice is soaked in will surely arise in you.
On the song Naki, Kenneth details the process he goes through when getting ready to meet the person that has left him infatuated and whose love he seeks in return. The preening, the nervousness and everything in between.
I like this song because it brings back memories of such attempts, and also because it has a very bouncy guitar melody that pauses occasionally letting you continue in that state of motion. Kenneth’s witty side is at its fullest on this song but he still maintains a great deal of emotion in his voice especially in the chorus.
Mumuleete talks about the person that led Kenneth to the church and the word of God, and it does have that upbeat energy of a fast praise hymn. I like this song mainly because of the saxophone which really brings out the joy in his message and also the subtle organ.
The closing track, Janzi, is undoubtedly my favorite track on the album. On this song, Kenneth brings out the happiness and general positive energy that the girl he loves has brought into his life. It is purely a song to dance to, bearing a tiny hint of the native Kidandali sound with splendid drumming and an additional glow from the excellently played xylophone.
Kenneth performs well on a number of other tracks like Rita, Katambaala, Ileng and Amaaso g’otulo which make up the softer, ballad-like side of the album. He also does well in handling the energy throughout the album, selecting and positioning the songs in a manner that doesn’t make me lose interest midway or appreciate any of the tracks any less than I could have.
Most if not all the songs are inspired, influenced or are in some way about a girl but this doesn’t make the experience monotonous as Kenneth Mugabi makes each song very unique while keeping the album short (only 43 minutes).
As an Afro-Soul artist, this album is definitely a boss move that puts Kenneth Mugabi out of the amateur league so make sure you go and get yourself a copy.