Nyamari Ongengu (Nyashinski), 37


It’s challenging enough to become successful in the competitive world of contemporary music, but to do so twice over, in between a hiatus, is difficult enough.

Underneath the calm demeanour of Nyamari Ongegu, popularly known as Nyashinski, lies an artist who has a knack for streetwise lyrics and uplifting tunes, delivered in a combination of melodic vocals and tough rhymes.

His career started as a member of the Kleptomaniax group along with his school mates, Robert Manyasa (Roba) and Collins Majale (Collo).

“We got the phone number to the Ogopa DJs producers which we would call from a phone booth at school and for a long time there was no response. Then one day our call was answered and we were invited to the studio to record our first song.”

The rest of the story is music to the ears, so to speak.

Kleptomaniax enjoyed big urban hits like “Haree”, “Swing Swing” and “Tuendelee” which were essentially rap songs with a melodic edge provided by Nyashinski.

“Our debut album showed us the world and we were able to travel and perform at shows across Kenya, East Africa, Europe and the US and gain experience of the music business.”

“When you get to the fork on the road, people take different paths, so my path was to leave the country and head to the US,” says Nyashinski. He would spend the next decade in the US, driving
a commercial trailer in between sessions in the studio.

While on a visit back home in December 2015, he met up with his old friend Nameless who persuaded him to record the collaboration, “Letigo”, released in February 2016.

One of his singles, “Mungu Pekee” was the wildly successful, with the video hitting one million views on YouTube.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint, so I plan on being here for a long time,” says the artiste who this year married his longtime girlfriend, fashion designer Zia Bett.

“Just like everyone else, I have sad and happy days, and there is so much more to life than stardom. What is more important to me now is how my music makes you feel,” he says.

–Bill Odidi