For over 15 years, Sauti Sol reigned supreme as Kenya’s most revered band. Since their formation in 2005, their inventive vocal harmonies and guitar grooves captivated East Africa.
The team, composed of members Bien-Aimé Baraza, Willis Chimano, Savara Mudigi, and guitarist Polycarp Otieno pioneered a fresh sound, dominating the landscape.
Beyond the borders, collaborations with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Nigeria’s Burna Boy, Yemi Alade, Patoranking, American artist India Arie, Tanzanians Vanessa Mdee, Ali Kiba, South African musicians Sun-El, Sho Madjozi cemented their international stardom.
Sauti Sol have split to pursue solo careers
Bien Aime is already ruling the airwaves with “Alusa Why Are You Topless” while Savara has set up base in South Africa where he records.
This suggests some form of irreparable division.
With each commanding distinct fanbases, splitting numbers may relegate them from kings to independents.
Enter the new king, Otile Brown
This fallout is clear according the latest analysis done by Research 8020 Limited on the top 10 Kenyan artists’ rankings. For the first time in over a decade, Sauti Sol no longer holds the top spot they seemed destined to keep forever.
Instead, a new king has emerged – Otile Brown. After years of climbing the charts, the spirited upstart has dethroned Kenya’s kings.
In just over 10 years, Otile Brown’s rise has been remarkable.
Since his 2013 debut, the now 29-year-old has shown relentless drive, collaborating with artists like Sanaipei Tande and Khaligraph Jones.
However, his 2022 smash “Dusuma” with Meddy proved his superstar status, exceeding 40 million streams.
Now in 2024, Otile has achieved the unthinkable, seizing Kenya’s crown from Sauti Sol.
Otile’s journey from a humble songwriter to conquering the kingdom in a decade is inspirational. Through sheer determination and talent, he has exceeded expectations. What is amazing is the fact that he maybe just getting started.
Glorious Sauti Sol reign
Research 8020 Limited’s 2024 rankings confirm Otile’s meteoric ascent, vaulting from number 3 to claim the top spot.
Though disappointing for the veterans, Sauti Sol’s loyal fans kept classics like “Melanin” streaming to maintain second position. However, with members going solo, their dominance may soon end entirely.
But as per now, holding onto number two is still a testament to their glorious reign.
Despite going on indefinite hiatus, Sauti Sol united across social media in May 2023, expressing gratitude for their incredible run and promising to pursue individual passions while remaining lifelong friends.
While this sounds touching, it also likely signals the sunset of their glorious reign, with no promise of future collective music.
If Otile Brown continues on this trajectory and keeps on working tirelessly, he seems poised to rule the roost.
This has also been noted by corporates now moving in to secure partnerships with Otile Brown.
In June 2022, Otile Brown entered into a partnership with Chinese phone manufacturer Tecno Mobile to become the brand ambassador for the Tecno Camon 19 series. The deal, at the time was reported to be worth millions of shillings.
According to Research 8020 Limited’s Research Manager Mr. Silas, Otile is clearly on an upward rise.
“Otile Brown has been on a steady rise since he kicked off his career. His rise has been meteoric and to this point where he commands the Kenyan Music scene is a sight to marvel at. We just have to wait and see what more he has in store for us,” Silas stated.
Has the Sol generation been overthrown?
The king has clearly been overthrown for now – and Otile Brown has seized the throne.
However, compared to Sauti Sol, his ability to lead Kenyan music forward remains unproven. Can he maintain this pinnacle amidst rising challengers? Can he also maintain the consistency?
The main dilemma here is – Sauti Sol reigned for 18 years and wooed many hearts. Collectively, Sauti Sol have over 80 songs on their list. So, can Otile match such longevity, stardom, and generate impact? Only time will tell.
In general, the wider music industry is healthier than ever, with stiff competition breeding innovation. A change of the guard has occurred, but who wears the crown next is uncertain. The fire driving these talents ensures Kenyan music will keep ascending to new heights.
We may never see another band like Sauti Sol, who defined an era with their inimitable chemistry. Their split marks the end of something special.
Yet the door now opens for fresh stars to transform pop culture.
Honorable mentions are Wakadinali who also made it to Research 8020 Limited’s top 20. Probably we all should be on the lookout for this group as they will probably take over from where Sauti Sol left off.
To see who else made the top 10 Kenyan artists list, check Research 8020’s latest rankings.