There's a global musical shift taking place right under our noses, and the question is who will be left out of the movement? The biggest names in the industry... Beyonce, Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj and even Lady Gaga herself have fused this genre into their 'traditional' sounds to create massive hits that have rocked international charts for weeks on end.
The phenomenon is house music: A broad genre that encompasses trance, dance and techno and is gradually taking route in the Kenyan entertainment scene as well. Today we introduce you to Hype Pack, an outfit that seeks to mould 'Kenyan house music' adn take it to the next level.
The group intitally started as the 'Demi-Gods' back in mid 2011, but later changed their name to 'Hype Pack' with the release of their first single 'Teenager' which has proved to be a hit wherever they perform. They've struggled to get their music on the mainstream channels in the country but say they've faced countless challenges; including a rigid radio industry and a 'fixated' mindset.
We had a sit down with Hype Pack recently at our offices, and this is what they had to say:
Ghafla!: So tell us, who is Hype Pack?
Hype Pack: Well, we’re a diverse group of talented young guys who include Tracy, Fred, Marcus, Lenny, Raul and Truffles. We reckon we’re the first unique house outfit of its kind… We do house music with an edge and add some hip hop to the mix
Ghafla!: Talk to us about your first single ‘Teenager’. Is it out?
Hype Pack: The single is basically done… The inspiration behind it: You know that excitement you have when you get your ID for the first time? That was a massive thing because all of us were now adults and all the freedom we could possibly want as well as get into the clubs and party joints we couldn’t get into before. The song is basically a celebration of what it is to be young and energetic, with a promising future.
Ghafla!: How does the fusion of Hip hop and Urban House work out for you?
Hype Pack: It’s fun because you get to hear guys like LMFAO and Chris Brown and say, ‘that’s dope stuff’. That’s where music is headed; all the big names are mixing their individual music with house beats. What we want to do is mix our music with the Kenyan hype and party scene, and see where it leads.
Ghafla!: You said you’re working on the video to ‘Teenager’. Will it be out soon? What should we expect?
Hype Pack: We’re doing it real soon. In fact we’re just working on the script, the location is set. It will be massive and you definitely should expect something different.
Ghafla!: Is there other new music Hype Pack is working on?
Hype Pack: We’re working on a new single, 21st century, a song about where we’ve come from and where we’re going to. Look out for it, you won’t be disappointed.
Ghafla!: What made you venture into house music, out of all genres?
Hype Pack: Hmm… Ultimately, house music is party music, it’s a party! That’s why we called ourselves Hype Pack in the first place. It’s about having mad energy and not about being depressing or low. As a wrap up, house music means a lot to us… Just look at the huge success of the likes of Guetta, LMFAO and even dubstep
Ghafla!: Speaking of artistes, who’s your favourite?
Hype Pack: Definitely David Guetta, he’s a sick producer.
Ghafla!: Guetta vs Avicii?
Hype Pack: Guetta, of course!
Ghafla!: Ok, keeping it local, what do you think about the house music scene in Kenya?
Hype Pack: Firstly, there’s a huge number of DJs playing it in the clubs and at parties across the country. As Hype Pack, we even had the opportunity of performing at the Art and Beer festival earlier this year. The sad thing is, most of what is played around is not house music from Kenya. Only the likes of Muthoni the Drummer Queen and Just a Band are touching the edges of this genre and daring to be different. We’ve heard of SLR and Sleepless Society…and also there’s us of course *laughs heartily*. Kenya is yet to open up that market but it will be interesting to see where it heads.
South Africa is doing it in a big way using Kwaito… We think everyone is headed there and it’s a matter of developing a unique sound! Music again is also business: You don’t want you’re fans listening to stuff from abroad and yet you can offer it to them right here and arguably in a better way. You just have to be interesting and daring.
Ghafla!: What do you think will help the house music industry (in Kenya) develop?
Hype Pack: For starters, South Africa have a lot of originality, they fuse it with their own beats. It will be house music but with a South African twist. We can’t stress it enough; you have to be original, and not too western. You want to give fans that amazing mix…that uniqueness
Ghafla!: Now that we’re on it, what is unique about Hype Pack?
Hype Pack: Hmm…well, I probably shouldn’t say this but I will: We don’t have a group leader. (Really?) Yes. When we air our views, we all just click. We’re all independent and agree that everyone is free to share their ideas and opinions. People have been asking who the leader of the group is and we tell them the same thing over and over and they’re just amazed by the synchrony in the group.
Ghafla!: Let’s talk about media, have you approached any or had airplay?
Hype Pack: We’ve been to very many in fact, especially stations around Nairobi including One FM countless numbers of times, Capital FM, Kiss FM and HomeBoyz Radio. Of course they all tell you that your music has to go through the ‘music listening committee’ or something, but we don’t get the fruits of our labour, we don’t know what happens after that.
Maybe the local (music or radio) industry is afraid of new sounds? I don’t know. Someone told us that it’s not just about taking the CD to them, but about whom you know there. *shrugs*
Ghafla!: Do you think we need some change in the (music, media or radio) industry?
Hype Pack: Definitely we do. People need to be more open minded: people got trapped way back by the more ‘traditional or established’ sounds of say genge, kapuka and bongo. They need to realize that there are a lot more artists out there. Talented people whose music deserves to be listened to a lot more than what we’re mostly hearing on the radio or seeing on TV?
Ghafla!: Did anyone help Hype Pack get where they are?
Hype Pack: We owe a lot to one K-Letta and UK based Nicole Slade who hooked us up with him in the first place. At the beginning, some producer here in Kenya heard our music and went on to post links of our music to everyone he knew. He then told us to send a link to Nicole who loved what she heard and asked us if we’re signed. That was just the beginning... She then posted it to K-Letta.
Interestingly, there’s a time a leading afro house fusion artiste approached us, wanting to use the beat to ‘teenager’ but we said no because we know (the established artist) would have made a hit with the tune. Other positive vibe has come from some fans during performances we’ve had. We basically come off stage and people applaud us and tell us what a great job we did and how we’re already at the level of the likes of Camp Mulla. The thing is: we know we have the potential… People just sleep on you but when they wake up and hear you, they say WHAT??? Where have you been all this time?
Ghafla!: Any performances you may be looking forward to in the near future?
Hype Pack: Taking you a bit back, people didn’t know much about us but when we performed at the recent Art and Beer festival, the opportunity really opened up our eyes to the potential that we knew we had. Guys would even come up to us and take pictures of us. In fact, we’re being called back for the second Art and Beer Festival in July, as well as being scheduled to make a debut appearance at the Sawa Sawa festival. Also for the upcoming Chaguo La Teeniez Awards set for later this month, we’re really pushing to perform there.
Ghafla!: What were your most challenging moments?
Hype Pack: Every single moment has been a challenge. You need to understand that we’ve come from far. There’s a time we went to Ng’ara to record on some guy’s iPhone but the dude bounced on us. We then got a stroke of luck by getting a HD camera, but we found out the mic wasn’t working. After that we got a working one but then the memory card got spoilt. Then we finally got something that works.
We did our first recording is a studio, but the producer had some serious issues so it was really tough working there. Then we met with some producer in Kikuyu town called Lawrence, who was really great to work with and actually did the audio for ‘teenager’. The radio sagas really put us down but we thought ahead and decided to make a unique video. We aren’t giving up.
Ghafla!: What’s your most interesting moment?
Hype Pack: That would have to be when guys started billing us as Camp Mulla’s biggest competition. You have to market your music aggressively; there has to be competition in the game, otherwise the guys who are already ‘there’ will become lazy. Consider how far they’ve come and the places they’re going…
Ghafla!: What artistes do you look up to (locally and internationally)?
Hype Pack: There’s no local (house music) artiste really, we don’t want to limit ourselves. Most of them don’t do our form of music. We’d be happy if we do something like LMFAO, Big Sean, DOP or Lil Wayne. There are big artists in Kenya but we’re looking at it as (global) competition.
Ghafla!: Any words for other (struggling) artists like you?
Hype Pack: You have to be original. You’re content has to be dope, also work on the instrumentals. You can have good lyrics but the tune kills it. The tune is what sticks. If music is your calling, stick to it. Don’t live someone else’s dream though. It’s a lot of hard work.
Ghafla!: What are your final words?
Hype Pack: Hype Pack is the next big thing. We know we will be big!
Have a listen to the hit single 'Teenager' below...