Shin City: Nyashinski is the G.O.A.T, let's end this discussion

Shin City: Nyashinski is the G.O.A.T, let's end this discussion

Rapper Nyashinski during one of his performances at his Shin City solo concert.

Nyashinski has consistently told us that he is not one of our ordinary Kenyan musicians. That he is not cut from the same cloth as most of our Drake wannabes.

He continuously tells us that he moves different, moves stealthily, moves in his own lane and moves boldly. Time and again, Nyashinski reminds us that nothing he does is random, that his every move is calculated; carefully, masterfully, tactfully, and with two spoonfuls of the Midas touch.

Numerous times, through his music, Nyashinski – real name Nyamari Ongegu - tells us to stop comparing him with other Kenyan rappers because there is no comparison to even begin with; he is the god (small 'g' but one no less) and they’re just little characters in his universe.

He is the Alpha and Omega of rap, the beginning and end. He is the Michael Jordan – or LeBron James, depending on which generation you grew up in - of Kenyan rap. Nyashinski says other rappers are not in his league, they’re not even playing the same sport as he.

But he doesn’t say it in a rude manner, I mean, he’s cocky about it, but he’s not dismissive, he’s more brutally honest about it. Nyashinski rapping about his genius is like Jay Z rapping about being rich; it sounds cocky, but it’s still an unavoidable truth.

Like he said recently, "Niko na mafans wengi na hio sio ku flex, ni facts..."

It’s something he has spoken about since his return to the music industry. In ‘Now you know’, the single that first officially announced his return five years ago, Nyashinski quips; “Sija-rap kutoka kitu ka ’06 hivi / Trust me, siwezi rust mimi / Ata niache mziki miaka hamsini, nikirudi bado nawacrash nyinyi…”

In ‘Aminia’, the hard-hitting one-half of his 2017 double-release, he says: “Wanajiita lyricists, kwa hizi interviews / Na mimi tu ndio nimetoa lyric video ika-hit a million views.”

In ‘Glory’, the first track off his debut album dubbed ‘Lucky You’ released in 2020, he says: “Vision nikimeditate, najionanga number one / Na hii hapa si democracy, and my time in office just begun.”

In ‘G.O.A.T’, he proclaims himself a living legend, rapping: “I’m the best ever / Lose? Never / Can’t complain / Already in the Hall of Fame and I’m still playing / GOAT s**t, I’m forever in my own lane.”

Heck, he even talks about himself being the standard of quality, ‘KEBS’, and says that the only two people truly ever deserving of being on the list of the greatest Kenyan rappers of all time are “mi na king wa South C.” That’s E-Sir, I presume, a man whose finesse and great artistry is visible today as it were a decade ago when he died in that road accident.

Nyashinski’s greatness is in the way he writes; his pen bleeds so many philosophical, thought-provoking bars he could’ve been a professor if he didn’t choose the booth. It’s in the almost poetic way he raps about weed. It’s in his nature, the way he operates; Nyashinski is so scarce there’s actually a whole debate about whether or not he actually even owns a smartphone, and why he follows only his wife on Instagram. He was asked about this during his concert rehearsal a couple weeks ago and he replied in the most Nyashinski way ever; with bars - “Unapenda nikilost, hutaki unione kila saa / Ni supply na demand, Ukiniona mara ya first unashtuka, ya pili unaanza kusema naharibu brand…”

The Nyashinski of today is a far cry from the teen boy we saw in Kleptomaniax years ago. He’s still a great lyricist, he’s still dreadlocked, but his thoughts and dreams and the way he pursues his craft have changed. In ‘Glory’ he says; “Tangu niende solo si life imechange.” He’s more mature now, more deliberate, and more mindful about a lot of things; key among them whom he associates with, what he puts out to the world, and the space his fans occupy in his heart.

Make no mistake, Nyashinski is the greatest Kenyan artiste of all time. He knows it. He has embraced it, and he’s fully settling into that throne. If there ever was any doubt about this, he erased it all this past weekend when he staged his much-hyped ‘Shin City’ concert.

Shin City

Shin City was Nyashinski’s way of finally inviting his fans, and the world, into his mind. He opened his heart and soul and bared it all for everyone to see. It was his rare moment of vulnerability. He revealed as much as he possibly could, without saying anything too openly, but through his art and creative mindset.

To do this, Nyashinski took up the Carnivore Grounds in Nairobi and divided it into two sections; the Shin City itself, and the main arena of the concert.

Yes, Shin City was an actual city, or rather an artistic representation of one. There were street signs everywhere, mostly named after his songs and other things he’s passionate about; there was Glory Street and Now-You-Know Street and Fashion Street et cetera.

Right at the entrance was a big black Mercedes Benz G-Wagon, kind of like the one he rides around in with Naiboi in the video of the song ‘Black’. There was a cute little sign next to it that explained what a machine like that means to him, that it was a representation of who he is and who he can be. You know how he raps “Zetu ni ma-German, zenu piki piki’ in the song ‘Hapo Tu’? Yeah, he really does mean it.

At the centre of the city was this cute caricature of Nyashinski in huge Barmuriat-size shoes, a long jacket that went up to below his knees, Geeky glasses and dreadlocks, with a sign on top of his head proclaiming ‘Welcome to Shin City.’ The animated character was named ‘Chillah Man’, and the board next to it said it represented Shinski’s life journey, compounded with all the ups and the downs he has had to go through to get to where he is today.

There was a red photo booth with a vintage telephone in it. There were swings and a small podium with a phone mounted on a stand that kept rotating. There was a small church named Glory that was the soul of Shin City; it carried the hope in the vision, reminding his fans to always find inner peace when external forces overwhelm them. I did not actually witness any, but the organizers said a few people got married in there. Of course, the marriages were deemed nullified upon exit of the venue, because you cannot go back home to your parents in Nyeri and introduce them to a woman you married in a church made of boxes at a concert while drunk out of your behind as your wife. If your parents are anything like mine, they’ll probably lock you in the granary and shave your hair using a hot iron box.

At 9:50pm, on the main arena side of the event, a ten-minute countdown emerged on the screen, and screams of “Nyashinski! Nyashinski!” rent the air. The crowd was ready and roaring to go.

Upon lapse of the countdown, a 5-minute monologue of a conversation between Nyashinski and, presumably, God was played. It detailed his journey, up to and including his 10-year musical hiatus and eventual return. At 10:05pm, he walked onto the stage – clad in all black everything, vest and all - and the crowd went bonkers.

He performed the first song of his set, ‘Too much on my mind’, then performed another narration live on stage this time, after which he belted out the second song – ‘G.O.A.T’. At some point during the late minutes of his performance within the first hour, something was lowered down to him on stage from above, it happened to be a jacket; white with red sleeves, a love heart on the back, and inscribed ‘Shin City’ towards the left part of the chest.

About a month prior to the concert, Nyashinski had announced that there would be no curtain raisers at the event; that it would just be him singing and rapping and vibing with his fans for a couple of hours or so. Which means nobody was really expecting it when Chris Kaiga joined Nyashinski on stage to perform their 2020 smash collabo, ‘Hapo Tu,’ alongside his dancers.

Similarly, the crowd shouted their voices hoarse when, a few minutes to midnight, Femi One – in her usual colourful self – rocked up on stage and absolutely wrecked their performance of ‘Properly.’ After that, I was lowkey praying that he would bring out Collo and Rawbar to help him sing their Kleptomaniax hits but that is a dream I love to see another day.

At midnight, Nyashinski declared that what he had just given was “a 20-year lesson in Kenyan music.” Then he said, “Either I’m extremely lucky, blessed, or both.” Then he went on to perform for nearly another hour, before introducing his band members and team and calling it a night.

The man from Kisii performed for over two-and-a-half hours and yet, when he was giving his vote of thanks, the crowd was still chanting out songs that he hadn’t performed that they wanted him to, like ‘Fathela.’ That’s legend status right there.

For what was touted as a one-man show, Nyashinki pulled a more than impressive crowd, selling out the VIP section and having thousands of people at the regular section.

His performance was something out of this world, and one probably only one other group of Kenyan artistes could pull; I’ll give you a hint, they’re a band and they’re not in the country at present. The production of Shin City was nothing short of amazing. The overall setup, the show scripting by Ian ‘Sketch’ Arunga, the musical direction by Cedo, the choreography, the seamless flow of scenes, Nyashinski and his team put their absolute best foot forward.

Shinski, as he is popularly known, had a point and he proved it on that day. That he is a G.O.A.T and that discussion should end at that. He is a genius, he is masterpiece. 

Nyashinski is immortal.


Nyashinski Kenyan music Shin City

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