Tanzanian recording artist and singer-songwriter Ali Kiba is very popular in East Africa but he is starting to gain an international following as well. Singing in his native Swahili, Kiba has buttery smooth vocals that often float over danceable rhythms. An example of Kiba’s style can be found in his 2014 hit “Mwana”. The official music video for this Tanzanian Music Awards Song of the Year has over 13.5 million views.
Kiba’s style is often described as either Afropop or bongo flava. The latter is Tanzanian hip-hop, a genre that is heavily influenced by American hip-hop but also reggae, R&B, dancehall music, and traditional Tanzanian styles such as taarab and dansi. This style is usually sung in either Swahili or English. For Kiba, singing in his native Swahili means a chance to “contribute in the growth of my national language.” When asked if his language is a deterrent for international audiences, he points out that Tanzanians have frequently enjoyed music from other countries in languages they didn’t understand. “Language plays part in understanding music,” he says, “but if the music is good, language does not matter.” He also says that because he sings well, audiences in countries like Finland often sing along to his songs, even if they don’t understand the lyrics.
Like many leading music stars, Kiba is also famous for something outside of his actual music. He has a long-standing feud with another Tanzanian musician, Diamond Platnumz. The feud reportedly began when the two recorded a collaboration together that never ended up being released. Ali has said that Diamond didn’t want to be outshined by his vocal talent. The two are continually trying to one-up each other, in an effort to anoint one of them the king of bongo flava. Recently, Kiba’s younger brother and fellow musician Abdu fanned the flames, much to Ali’s delight. As is often the case with feuding stars, the rivalry may well make both Kiba and Platnumz better in their quest to be the best.
Kiba was signed by Sony Music Entertainment in 2016. In 2017, he became director of Rockstar4000, a Pan African music and entertainment production company. His most recent hits are “Seduce Me” and “Maumivu Per Day”.
In his personal life, exciting rumors abound about the heartthrob’s upcoming wedding to his Kenyan girlfriend Amina Khaleef. Ali’s brother Abdu reportedly confirmed the rumors and said they will happen this month. Some of the rumors suggested March 2 for the date of the nuptials but that either didn’t happen or it’s being kept a secret. If there is still to be a wedding, there’s no word on what hair color Kiba will be sporting.
Are you a fan of Ali Kiba’s music?
(Photo Credits: Author: Gift Charles; Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0 )