Let’s discuss the brand new track Si Usare by Virusi Mbaya.

In the rugged streets of Kibra, Virusi Mbaya, a hip-hop veteran, just dropped his latest banger, “Si Usare.”

This track prominently samples the iconic Saree by Kenyan legendary rapper E-Sir.

The fact that Virusi, an underground rapper for years, chose to sample an artist whose style was once dismissed as “Kapuka” two decades ago adds an interesting angle to Kenyan rap politics.

“Si Usare” by Virusi Mbaya samples E-Sir’s “Saree”

The Backstory of “Si Usare” by Virusi Mbaya Beat

Back in the 2000s, Lucas Bikedo dared to push the boundaries of the Kenyan sound at his Ogopa Deejays, launching the Kapuka experiment. A mad scientist of music, he fused bhangra, dancehall, Lingala, and hip-hop beats into a concoction that had heads turning. But not everyone was vibing to his bold moves. 

Producers, rappers, and a faction of fans vehemently attacked him. This was an era when pioneering producers like Musyoka and Ted Josiah were creating hardcore hip-hop beats for Kalamashaka and the Ukoo Flani outfit.

However, Lucas Bikedo was on a different wavelength. He aimed to get people on their feet when others were penning protest anthems. It was a clash of visions. 

On the flip side, producer Tim Rimbui and rappers Abbas Kubaff and Bamboo went all in with a diss track suitably titled Kapuka,” throwing fuel into the feud. 

The chorus reflected the sentiments loud and clear, a defiant anthem that rang out with, “kapuka this kapuka that, ndio watu wakatike, watu wakatike…”

It was a war cry, a musical rebellion against the prevailing Kapuka wave. This wasn’t just a diss track but a musical manifesto and a call for a revolution against the infectious Ogopa beats that had gripped the airwaves. 

Fast forward to today, and Kenyan rappers heavily inspired by the likes of Ukoo Flani are now digging into E-Sir’s catalog for samples and sparks of creative ignition. The ghosts of E-Sir’s legacy are louder among contemporary Kenyan rappers despite having recorded fewer than 15 tracks. 

Ares66 Samples “Leo ni Leo” by E-Sir…

E-Sir’s influence is experiencing a triumphant revival and is unmistakably evident in the latest project by hip-hop producer, Ares66. The track “Leo,” extracted from the adrenaline-soaked “Gangsta Points” album, boldly samples  E- Sir’s “Leo ni Leo.”

It offers a nostalgic experience of Kenya’s rap history.

In a High on Bars exclusive interview, Ares66 candidly shared his creative process, disclosing a deep connection to E-Sir’s work. The temptation to sample the entire track lingered, a thought cut only by the legal complexities awaiting in the shadows. Ironically, a genre that rejected E-Sir now props up his music, symbolizing Kenya’s hip-hop evolution.

Virusi Mbaya, a prominent hardcore disciple of Ukoo Flani and K South, has followed suit with his latest track. Virusi alongside producer Alex Vice takes a bold step into the past, sampling the beat from E-Sir’s “Saree,” with Virusi adopting the same theme and message conveyed by E-Sir.

The homage extends to the single’s cover where Virusi strategically places the Ogopa Deejays logo, a calculated move reminiscent of E-Sir’s iconic association with the Ogopa brand. It pays respects to the roots that laid the foundation.

“Si Usare” by Virusi Mbaya may not immediately stand out. But it’s the opening line that delivers a lyrical depth worth pondering. The words, “kufikiria future sana ndio iliamsha shetani za past” (“thinking too much about the future woke up the demons of the past”) serve as a vital reflection on our daily struggles. Virusi reveals a confession “Shut up kiasi maspirit za E-Sir zinanibongesha anadai nkikusare kuna venye atajibondesha” which shows the impact of the song on him.

“Si Usare” by Virusi Mbaya Overshadowed by the Original

Engaging with the online debate, @wyckiewicked219, a keen-eyed fan, weighed in on the YouTube audio. He compared Virusi Mbaya’s recent rendition of “Si Usare” and E-Sir’s original masterpiece. The critique was candid. He noted, “Somehow the mastering in the original is better than this.”

One could argue that E-Sir’s rendition was the more captivating of the two. Adding an interesting aspect to this dialogue is that E-Sir, who tragically passed away in 2003, had made the original “Saree” and reimagined it with a remix titled “Saree Remix” for his album.

Virusi Mbaya’s choice to sample E-Sir’s work ignites an intellectual conversation about the enduring legacy. E-Sir’s impact is felt across three different generations of Kenyan fans.

The traces of E-Sir’s influence reverberate through the beats of “Si Usare” by Virusi Mbaya. Now, the question becomes: What’s your take on “Si Usare” by Virusi Mbaya? 

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

RATING: 2.3 Out Of 5

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