The Kenyan Music Industry & the Kenyan Matatu Culture

19th June 2020 BY Junior Rebel

One of the most notable things, when you come to Nairobi, is the public transportation. We have a unique transport system, generally referred to as “Matatu Culture”. The matatus are mini-busses but customized to fit a particular design, with a big and loud sound system, party lights, big LED screens (some with small personal screens behind every passenger seat) and graffiti. They are notorious for playing very loud music, which is very attractive and appealing to the youths who will only board if the bus has the above.

Today we focus on how this culture is a big part of the Kenyan music industry. Keeping in mind that most of the music played in the matatus, comes from popular and upcoming DJs. They play a lot of local content and also popular songs. Most of the popular songs in Kenya and even Kenyan musicians are a product of the culture. Once your song hits the matatus, there is a very big chance that it’s going to blow up, since the matatus travel to different parts of the city, which gives you a diversified audience for your product.

The unique aspect for this type of marketing, for the artists and also the DJs, is that the listener has no choice, but to listen to the music that’s being played. People heading to work and off work, will sit there in the long traffic jams and listen to whatever song the driver plays. So you can imagine your song being played to different sets of people, which gives the musicians free publicity.


This has become so popular, that artists will take their music to the matatu DJs instead of giving it to different radio stations. The matatu culture has supported the music industry so much, and sometimes you just take the Matatu, so you get to listen what’s poppin in the streets.

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