Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Swahili-tongued devils: Kenya’s heavy metal at the crossroads of identity

Buy Article:

$18.00 + tax (Refund Policy)

With an interested global audience noting the rise of rock and heavy metal throughout Africa, Internet-savvy Kenyan musicians have taken advantage of this attention by promoting their bands to audiences over the world. One aspect that separates Kenyan rock and metal musicians from their western contemporaries is the confrontation between tradition and modernity, which is a debate also being discussed in various metal communities throughout Africa. Fearful of being noted as a novelty, many acts throughout Kenya are reticent to infuse tradition into their music. As accommodating as heavy metal is to such infusions, many omit tradition out of respect for their influences, or, more so, to make a bold statement in their communities: one of rejection, and defiance of their cultural upbringing. But others feel the inclusion of musical traditions is imperative and the only way the world will ever know that African metal bands exist. Many also feel the infusion of tradition would allow for a broader interpretation of rock and metal in their own communities without ostracizing their newfound global identity as ‘rockers’, and metalheads’. From over twenty interviews conducted in the country, this article addresses these questions: Can heavy metal music be a connection to Kenyan culture for audiences both inside and outside of Africa? Is language perhaps a way into the culture of African metal musicians, and, if so, how is African language being used in Kenya’s metal communities? Furthermore, how has the cosmopolitan identity of Kenyan musicians survived the turmoil of the past and influenced their music?
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics

Keywords: African Music; African Studies; Kenya; Nairobi; Swahili language; heavy metal

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Independent Researcher

Publication date: 01 September 2016

More about this publication?
  • Metal Music Studies is the journal of the International Society for Metal Music Studies.

    The aims of the journal are:
    • To provide an intellectual hub for the International Society of Metal Music Studies and a vehicle to promote the development of metal music studies;
    • To be the focus for research and theory in metal music studies – a multidisciplinary (and interdisciplinary) subject field that engages with a range of parent disciplines, including (but not limited to) sociology, musicology, humanities, cultural studies, geography, philosophy, psychology, history, natural sciences;
    • To publish high-quality, world-class research, theory and shorter articles that cross over from the industry and the scene;
    • To be a world leader in interdisciplinary studies and be a unique resource for metal music studies.
  • Editorial Board
  • Information for Authors
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Intellect Books page
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more