Sheng, rap and popular music (i.e. Shrap) is a new genre making waves among music die-hards thanks to a group of young and talented creatives who came up with this vibe. It has taken advantage of the digitization of music and availability of democratic platforms that can be accessed by everyone who has internet to rival some major genres like genge, kapuka and now even hip hop.
It’s a movement that comes at a time when the country is trying so hard to identify with a specific genre in a nation with numerous tribes having diverse cultures. The journey, however, hasn’t been as easy as one may think now that the music is popular and appreciated by a majority of youth. The term Shrap, about five years ago, was nothing but another random word.
But today, it’s the term every young aspiring artiste wants to associate themselves with. Why is that so? Let’s walk down memory lane with the pioneer of shrap, Boutross Munene aka Shrapgod. Boutross Munene, often referred to as the Shrapgod, has made a name for himself and his AD Family as the face of shrap music in the country.
Boutross, having had the privilege of experiencing the evolution of sheng in the country says he finds a lot of comfort and fun in creating shrap music. “I was brought up at a place called H-Town, along Mbagathi road, so we were in the middle between the boujee and the ghetto and I wanted to create music that speaks and relates to both audiences. That’s how I got the vibe of shrap but by then it wasn’t shrap. In fact, we didn’t even have a name for it!” says Boutross.
He fell in love with music at a young age. At only 12, he had already started writing his own music and doing freestyles in school. His mother wasn’t receptive of the idea at the time though. In 2013, he decided to consider music as a career path even though his mother wasn’t for it. That’s the same year that Shrap was born.
Having grown up and experienced life from an almost similar lens with the likes of Dope I Mean and Kay Green, Boutross decided to create music with his AD family which was already in existence from way back. “I remember we had just come from a rave and we were at Jovvie’s place, about four or five guys and two chicks.
We were recording a song called ‘brown paper’ and everyone was like we need a name for our sound. Everybody began suggesting some crazy names until Jovvie Jov said Shrap. And everybody was like yeah!” Boutross explains the birth of Shrap.
Previously, they had classified their music under trap but after the birth of Shrap, they decided to create a ‘Shraplife’ movement and fully focus on Shrap music. Ever since 2013, the group of young talented individuals have pushed the genre relentlessly.
“It hasn’t been an easy journey though, especially considering the fact that we were introducing something entirely different into the industry. Most people weren’t open to the idea at first. I recall my first performance having only about fifteen people.” Narrates Shrapgod on how tough it was to create a niche for their new genre. It’s understandable though bearing in mind that it was a time when the country was entangled with the chains of Naija music. And it’s all normal. People always fear change.
The Shrap movement has been on the rise ever since then, gaining popularity among the youth from all over the country. After doing several songs and even featuring on celebrated Kenyan rapper Octopizzo’s song, ‘Tergat gang’, Boutross and his AD Family embarked on creating a platform for all Shrap artistes to showcase their talents and connect with their fans.
The AD Family initiated the Shrapnite tour which kicked off in campuses and has been running since 2017. So far, they have done two major tours in 11 top universities around the country and provided a platform for over 135 upcoming artistes to showcase their talents. They credited most of the effort to their manager Musau ‘smallz’ for putting in a lot of work in organising the campus tours despite lacking strong corporate support. The initiative is gathering pace and becoming more and more popular among the youth.
In addition to that, they have also organized six shrap events in Nairobi. “We decided to organize these events to bring in diversity in some of our popular hangout hubs. If you look keenly, you will notice that there is so much segregation within them. Every hub has its own specific type of audience, but that wasn’t what we wanted. We wanted to eradicate this tendency and create events that could relate to everyone. Shrap connects with everyone, because it has soul in it, rap in it, trap in it and sheng which relates with us locally. We were out to make a statement and bring disruption within the entertainment scene.” states Boutross.
AD Family has also been hugely known for their music rivalry with huge rap acts like Khaligraph Jones and his Khali Kartel. They never hesitate to release a cypher immediately the Khali Cartel strikes. However, Boutross says that their latest cypher wasn’t all about beefing or rivalry. “It was more of asserting a statement to all industry players. We weren’t just addressing Khali Cartel, we were speaking to everyone. We were making a statement that Shraplife is here to stay and this is our time!”
Shrap’s upsurge has seen the likes of Boutross attract even international attention hence landing some very lucrative deals. He recently got nominated to the Empawa Africa Music Foundation program, an initiative by Nigerian artiste Mr. Eazi in partnership with Google to promote African artistes. He was one of the few artistes chosen from East Africa including our very own Nikita Kering who got a chance to record some really good music with the foundation.
The ‘Safi’ hitmaker is currently working on a 25 song mixtape dubbed 6 views to 8K that is set to be released some time in August this year. He says this is the biggest project that he has ever worked on in his music career. The Shrapgod even explores his singing talents in the mixtape apart from just rapping and trapping.
“Shrap is like a fluid, it can go either way and that’s why I always say am a singer. I can’t say I’m a rapper or a singer. I can do both,” stresses Boutross. He even mentions the likes of Boondocks, whom he credits for trying something new. He states that their new ‘shrapuka’ sound is very unique. He also mentions that we should expect the likes of Miss Karun, Wakadinali, Zikki and many more to be announced before the launch to feature in the mixtape.
He states that even though he is done with the project, he would have loved the likes of Bien and Petra to have featured in it. “I love Petra’s vibe and I think that her trap vibe can really harmonize well with my sound. Then Bien just has his own kind of swag you know… I think we can create something incredible for the ladies haha…” Boutross concludes.
“For us Shrap is all about diversity and inclusivity. We want to relate to everyone in a Kenyan way. We want to create a legacy doing this!”
This story was featured in The Outsyder Magazine inside The Nairobian.